Best Books about Jazz Dance & Music for Kids!

Curated by Danielle Pierce-MasterMA Dance / Written & Edited by Samantha BelleroseB.Ed, Dip.Dance(Performing Arts)

Jazz dance is one of the cornerstone styles that students learn at a dance studio or school. And yet so many of the books about dance focus on Ballet! So we have created a list of books that focus on jazz dance for kids!

With the help of Danielle Pierce-Master the writer of our Jazz Dance history articles which you can read here, we have created this list of books about Jazz dance, music and culture for kids to read and learn more about the people who pioneered the iconic and much-loved style.

All the following books can be looked at further by clicking on the image or title through our affiliate links – which help to support the website if you choose to purchase them at no extra cost to you – at Amazon.com.

Jazz ABZ 

Title: Jazz ABZ: An A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits
Author: Wynton Marsalis
Illustrator: Paul Rogers
Ages: 9 – 12

BOOK BLURB: A is for “almighty” Louis Armstrong, whose amazing artistry unfolds in an accumulative poem shaped like the letter he stands for.

As for sax master Sonny Rollins, whose “robust style radiates roundness,” could there be a better tribute than a poetic rondeau?

In an extraordinary feat, Pulitzer Prize-winning jazz composer Wynton Marsalis harmonizes his love and knowledge of jazz’s most celebrated artists with an astounding diversity of poetic forms — from simple blues (Count Basie) to a complex pantoum (Charlie Parker), from a tender sonnet (Sarah Vaughan) to a performance poem snapping the rhythms of Art Blakey to life. 


Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!: A Sonic Adventure

Title: Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!: A Sonic Adventure
Author: Wynton Marsalis
Illustrator: Paul Rogers
Ages: 4 – 8

BOOK BLURB:

What’s that sound? The back door squeeeaks open, sounding like a noisy mouse nearby — eeek, eeeek, eeeek! 

Big trucks on the highway rrrrrrrumble, just as hunger makes a tummy grrrrumble.

Ringing with exuberance and auditory delights, this second collaboration by world-renowned jazz musician and composer Wynton Marsalis and acclaimed illustrator

Paul Rogers takes readers (and listeners) on a rollicking, clanging, clapping tour through the many sounds that fill a neighborhood.


Jazzy Miz Mozetta

Title: Jazzy Miz Mozetta
Author: Brenda C. Roberts
Illustrator: Frank Morrison
Ages: 4 – 8

BOOK BLURB:

“Okay, young cats, let the beat hit your feet.”

One fine evening, Miz Mozetta puts on her firecracker-red dress and heads outside to enjoy the moonlight. When she hears the neighborhood kids’ music, she’s inspired to dance, but her old friends have too many aches and pains to join her.

The kids doubt that Miz Mozetta would be able to keep up with them. So she retreats to her parlor, where she dreams about the old days at the Blue Pearl Ballroom. Just when her feet are itching to get out there and do the jitterbug — friends or no friends — a knock comes on the door, and Miz Mozetta gets some welcome company.

Lively, colorful illustrations and a rhythmic text make for a jazzy dance party that readers will delight in attending again and again.


Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald

Title: Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Candlewick Biographies: Ella Fitzgerald
Author: Roxanne Orgill
Illustrator: Sean Quals
Ages: 8-12

BOOK BLURB: When Ella Fitzgerald danced the Lindy Hop on the streets of 1930s Yonkers, passersby said good-bye to their loose change. But for a girl who was orphaned and hungry, with raggedy clothes and often no place to spend the night, small change was not enough.

One amateur night at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, Ella made a discovery: the dancing beat in her feet could travel up and out of her mouth in a powerful song — and the feeling of being listened to was like a salve to her heart.

With lively prose, Roxane Orgill follows the gutsy Ella from school-girl days to a featured spot with Chick Webb’s band and all the way to her number-one radio hit “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.”

Jazzy mixed-media art by illustrator Sean Qualls brings the singer’s indomitable spirit to life.

Back matter includes resources for further information, and an index.


The Sound that Jazz Makes 

Title: The Sound that Jazz Makes
Author: Carole Boston Weatherford 
Ages: 6 – 8

BOOK BLURB: Two acclaimed picture book talents combine in this award-winning journey through the history and legacy of jazz. Carole Boston Weatherford’s poetic text is perfectly matched with Eric Velasquez’s powerful oil paintings.


Dizzy

Title: Dizzy
Author: Jonah Winter
Illustrator: Sean Qualls
Ages: 4 – 8

BOOK BLURB:

This is the story of Dizzy Gillespie, a real cool cat who must have been born with a horn in his hands, judging from the way he played the trumpet. Jazz was his ticket on a train to better days, and he left his hard life in a small town for New York City and the hottest band around.

But did Dizzy stand straight and play right? NO! He was a clown. He hit high notes, low notes, never-been-heard notes, and before he knew it, Dizzy created a whole new music: BEBOP.

This is a story about a boy who breaks all the rules — and finds his own personal heaven along the way.


This Jazz Man 

Title: This Jazz Man
Author: Karen Ehrhardt
Illustrator: R.G. Roth
Ages: 1-7

BOOK BLURB: In this toe-tapping jazz tribute, the traditional “This Old Man” gets a swinging makeover, and some of the era’s best musicians take center stage.

The tuneful text and vibrant illustrations bop, slide, and shimmy across the page as Satchmo plays one, Bojangles plays two . . . right on down the line to Charles Mingus, who plays nine, plucking strings that sound “divine.”
    
Easy on the ear and the eye, this playful introduction to nine jazz giants will teach children to count–and will give them every reason to get up and dance!


Stompin At the Savoy

Title: Stompin’ at the Savoy: The Story of Norma Miller
Author: Alan Govenar
Illustrator: Martin French 
Ages: 9-12

BOOK BLURB: When she was just five years old, in 1924, Norma Miller knew just what she wanted to do for the rest of her life: she wanted to dance.

It was the Jazz Age, the Harlem Renaissance, and Norma lived behind New York’s Savoy Ballroom, the only dance hall in a still-segregated America where blacks and whites could mingle on the same mahogany floor.

It was in this majestic “home of happy feet” that twelve-year-old Norma first brought the house down, swing-stepping with Twist Mouth George, one of the premier dancers of the day.

Before long, the feisty Norma would rise to fame as one of the first performers of the Lindy Hop, an acrobatic dance style named for Charles Lindbergh’s first solo flight (or “hop”) across the Atlantic.

With the celebrated dance troupe Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, a teenage Norma would cross the Atlantic herself on a tour of Europe and even strut her stuff on the silver screen.


Jazz: My Music, My People 

Title: Jazz: My Music, My People: (ALA Notable Children’s Book
Author: Morgan Monceaux 
Illustrator:
Ages: 11-12

BOOK BLURB: Striking portraits, biographical sketches, personal reminiscences, and collage paintings chronicle the historical evolution of jazz from the perspective of forty African-American musicians who played key roles in its creation.


Rap a Tap Tap 

Title: Rap a Tap Tap: Here’s Bojangles – Think of That!
Author: Leo Dillon & Diane Dillon 
Illustrator: Leo Dillon & Diane Dillon
Ages: 4-8

BOOK BLURB:

With bold paintings and a simple, rhyming text, Caldecott Medalists Leo & Diane Dillon bring young readers a rap a tap tap celebration of dance that will have readers clapping and tapping along.

“There once was a man who danced in the street / He brought pleasure and joy to the people he’d greet / He didn’t just dance, he made art with his feet / Rap a tap tap–think of that!”

This simple book for young children has the added bonus of describing the life of a ground-breaking African-American tap dancer. Bill “Bojangles” Robinson was one of the most popular entertainers of the 1920s-30s.

People said he “talked with his feet,” and in the Dillons’ graceful paintings of old New York, he dances from page to page to the tune of a toe-tapping rhyme. Rap a tap tap–think of that!


Jazz Age Josephine 

Title: Jazz Age Josephine: Dancer, singer–who’s that, who? Why, that’s MISS Josephine Baker, to you!
Author: Jonah Winter 
Illustrator: Marjorie Priceman
Ages: 4-8

BOOK BLURB:

Singer, dancer, actress, and independent dame, Josephine Baker felt life was a performance. She lived by her own rules and helped to shake up the status quo with wild costumes and a you-can’t-tell-me-no attitude that made her famous. She even had a pet leopard in Paris!

From bestselling children’s biographer Jonah Winter and two-time Caldecott Honoree Marjorie Priceman comes a story of a woman the stage could barely contain.

Rising from a poor, segregated upbringing, Josephine Baker was able to break through racial barriers with her own sense of flair and astonishing dance abilities. She was a pillar of steel with a heart of gold—all wrapped up in feathers, sequins, and an infectious rhythm.


Ella Fitzgerald 

Title: Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa
Author: Andrea Pinkney
Illustrator: Brian Pinkney 
Ages: 6-8

BOOK BLURB: Ella Fitzgerald began her life as a singer on the stage of the Apollo Theater when she was just seventeen years old. Her rich voice and vocal innovations brought her fame and a remarkable career than spanned half a century and won her generations of fans around the world.

Acclaimed author Andrea Davis Pinkney has told Ella’s inspiring story in the voice of Scat Cat Monroe, a feline fan whose imagined narrative sings with the infectious rhythms of scat.

Two-time Caldecott Honor winner Brian Pinkney’s dramatic perspectives and fantastical images offer a jazzy improvisation all their own.


Duke Ellington 

Title: Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra
Author: Andrea Pinkney
Illustrator: Brian Pinkney
Ages: 6-8

BOOK BLURB: Another stunning picture book biography of a prominent twentieth-century African-American in the arts, from the creative team behind Alvin Ailey.


Jazz

Title: Jazz
Author: Walter Dean Myers

BOOK BLURB: There’s a crazy syncopation /and it’s tearing through the nation / and it’s bringing sweet elation / to every single tune./ It’s Jazz

One of TIME’s 100 Best Children’s Books of All Time Fifteen poems, infused with the rhythm and wordplay of jazz music, are paired with bold, stylized illustrations of performers and dancers to convey the history and breadth of this unique musical style.

From bebop to New Orleans, from ragtime to boogie, and every style in between, Jazz takes readers on a musical journey from jazz’s beginnings to the present day.

Created by a celebrated father-son team, Jazz is a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and a Kirkus Best Children’s Books Editor’s Choice.

In addition to its colorful and lyrical celebration, the book includes a brief introductory essay about the history and form of jazz, as well as a timeline and glossary of jazz terms.

Coretta Scott King Award Honor for illustration


I see the Rhythm

Title: I See the Rhythm
Author: Toyomi Igus & Michele Wood
Ages: 6+

BOOK BLURB: This award-winning picture book invites children along to dance to the rhythm of swing at the Savoy in Harlem, to rejoice to the rhythm of gospel from a church pew on a Sunday morning, and more.

Each stunning spread—including art, poetic text, a description of the music style, and a time line of selected historical events—encompasses the spirit of the times and the strength of the communities where the music was born.

Toyomi Igus’s lyrical text, matched with artist Michele Wood’s daring vision, captures the feel of each style of music and pays tribute to the musicians who gave the music life.

About the Author

Samantha Bellerose

Samantha is a wife and mother of four kids aged 3-11. She danced and acted from the age of 5 and performed in film clips, on television, and in musical theatre professionally. She also taught dance, but after leaving the profession to backpack through Europe, Canada and the USA with her husband for three years, she then completed an Education Degree and taught within primary schools in Australia. Today she is a business owner with her husband and the creator and writer for Dance Parent 101 where she hopes her previous experience as a dancer, current experience as a dance parent and the research and writing skills she gained completing her education degree will help enlighten parents on their journey with their child through the world of dance.