This is the 2007 winner of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award:
Myers, Walter Dean. 2006. Jazz. Ill. by Christopher Myers. New York: Holiday House.
Here is a Digital Trailer for JAZZ created by graduate student Dionne McLaughlin.
Here is a Readers Guide for JAZZ created by graduate student Cher Loving.
Myers, Walter Dean, and Christopher Myers. Jazz. New York: Holiday House, 2006. Print. ISBN-10: 0-8234-1545-7 ISBN-13:978-0-8234-1545-8
Recommended Age Levels – Ages 8 and up
Summary of Book
Jazz is a salute to the music, history, and the artists of this wonderful style of music. The fifteen poems and excellent pictures will have you ready to go to New Orleans and participate in some Jazz. Put on some Louis Armstrong or Billie Holliday, turn down the lights and enjoy the music while reading to the rhythms of Jazz that inspired this book of poems. This book will be a welcome addition to your library.
“Fifteen poems give a unique spin to music history in this title. The highly acclaimed author opens with a title poem that speaks of the African origins of jazz and "[d]rumming in tongues along the Nile," then swings to an exuberant tribute to Louie Armstrong in which that legendary trumpet player spanks a bad tune "like a naughty boy." The rhythm and word-play of poems such as "Be-Bop" and "Three Voices" will have kids bouncing and repeating lines like "[a] bippety-bop snake can't bite my style" and "[t]hum, thum, thum, and thumming/I feel the ocean rhythm coming." The illustrator brings the intensity of fluid lines and saturated color to his portraits of the jazz world. “-Children's Literature Review
“The father-and-son team behind blues journey creates a scintillating paean to jazz. Walter Dean Myers infuses his lines (and the rests between them) with so much savvy syncopation that readers can't help but be swept up in the rhythms. Christopher Myers lays black-inked acetate over brilliant, saturated acrylics. A cogent introduction, selective glossary and chronology round out this mesmerizing verbal and visual riff on a uniquely American art form.” - Publishers Weekly
“An introduction provides historical and technical background, briefly touching on influences, improvisation, rhythm, and race. Spreads then pulsate with the bold, acrylic-and-ink figures and distorted perspectives that interpret the multiple moods and styles set forth in the text. The 15 selections also celebrate vocals, various instrumental combinations, a funeral procession, and Louis Armstrong; New Orleans as spirit and place is woven throughout. The expressionistic figures are surrounded by high-contrast colors in which the visible brushstrokes curve around their subjects, creating an aura that almost suggests sound waves.” --School Library Journal
Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor
ALA Notable Children’s Book
Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award
Publishers Weekly’s 100 Best Books of the Year
Kirkus Reviews Editor’s Choice
Booklist Editors’ Choice
Booklist Top Ten in Black History
A Book Links Best New Book for the Classroom
Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Text
IRA Notable Book for a Global Society 2007
Hans Christian Andersen Award, Illustrator Honor
New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
NAACP Image Award Nominee for
Outstanding Literary Work—Poetry
Parenting Mom-Tested Book of the Year
Questions to Ask Before Reading
• Can you tell me what jazz is?
• Have you ever listened to jazz? If so, where and with whom?
• Who can tell me what jazz sounds like?
Suggestions for Reading Poems Aloud
• Respect the mood of the poem
• Read slowly enough for the students to piece together the images and meaning
• Read the poem all the way through
• Read in as natural a voice as possible
• Let the students see the poem being read or by giving them a copy or by copying the poem on large paper.
[Georgia Heard. For the Good of the Earth and Sun (pgs. 5-6).]
Follow Up Activities
• What were you able to see or feel after hearing this poem?
• What kind of sounds, if any, were you able to hear?
• Students will discuss the rhythm and sound of poetry, as it can be related to jazz and music in general.
• Why do you think Walter Dean Myer, the author, wrote his poems about jazz in this manner?
• Students will then listen to the poems performed by James “D-Train” Williams and Vaneese Thomas from the CD that accompanies the book. Discussion of the different ways the poems sound from the teacher reading them to the performers on the CD.
• Students will then take turns performing the poems using their own individual styles.
• Re-read the poem Louie, Louie, How You Play So Sweet
• Tell the students that this poem is about Louis Armstrong – Has anyone heard of Louis Armstrong or his music before reading this poem?
• Working in groups, the students will research Louis Armstrong, write a biography about him, his life, how he became interested in music and about his music career.
• Be sure to illustrate your biography with drawings or collage pictures. You are to include a picture of Louis Armstrong.
Research aspects of sound.
• Understand the concepts and differences between force, pitch, volume and vibrations.
• Explore the science of instrument design and construction.
• What is a sound?
• How would you make a loud sound?
• How would you make a soft sound?
• How can you make a different sound?
• What do you see?
• What do you hear?
• What is the source of the vibration?
• What type of medium is the wave traveling through?
• In what direction does the wave appear to travel?
• What happens to the medium as the wave travels?
Design a Reed Instrument
Design and construct your own wind instrument that uses a vibrating reed and makes sounds with four different pitches.
• 6 plastic drinking straws, thin
• 6 plastic drinking straws, thick
• Hole punch
Make a straw reed by cutting a wedge about 1 cm (1/2 inch) long at one end of a plastic drinking straw. Now flatten the reed by pulling it between your thumbnail and forefinger.
To make a longer instrument, flare the end opposite the reed by inserting a pencil and stretching the plastic. Remove the pencil and fit another straw of the same size into the flared end.
Now punch holes in the side of the straw using a hole punch. It will help if you make the holes so they are at the top of the instrument when you play it. Note: don’t punch through both sides of the straw!
To Make a Slide Instrument
Take two straws—one thick and one thin. At one end of the smaller straw, make a reed. Insert the other end of the thin reed straw into the thicker straw.
Experiment with your instrument.
• some empty paper towel rolls
• about 5 rubber bands
• empty tissue box
1. Cut a small hole in one of the two smallest sides of the box.
2. Put the paper towel roll in the hole and tape it in place.
3. Put the rubber bands around the box covering the hole. You can put them around the long way or the short way. Strum your guitar by running your fingertips over the rubber bands, or try plucking each band by itself.
Math and music go hand in hand. You have to be able to count before reading music.
A Time Signature tells you how the music is to be counted. Time signatures consist of two numbers written like a fraction.
The poems in the book Jazz by Walter Dean Myers has a rhythm to them. Learn how to count the music and be able to count the rhythm when reading these poems.
• Put a time signature on the board.
• What does the top number tell you?
• What does the bottom number tell you?
• The beats of the notes are counted as quarter notes, eighth notes or sixteenth notes.
• Practice the time signature by counting. 4/4 means count 4 (top number) quarter notes (bottom number) to each bar. So the pulse, or beat, is counted 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4 and so on.
• What is 4/4, 3/4 and 6/8?
Collaboration with the music teacher would help to reinforce this concept.
The book Jazz has a Glossary of Jazz Terms.
• Students will become familiar with these terms and understand their relationship to the music jazz.
• Student will listen to a variety of jazz music to associate these vocabulary words with the music.
• Students will learn how to tell by the music what is a ballad, boogie, blues, free jazz, etc.
• Students will learn the slang terms related to the music jazz and how they relate to the music.
• After becoming familiar with the vocabulary and music, the students can be divided into two groups. The teacher can play the music for the groups and they can see which group can pick out the terms and types of music. Fun competition and great way for students to use their listening skills.
The book Jazz has a beginning timeline of the history of jazz. The timeline begins with the 1800’s and goes up to the present.
• Students will research the history of jazz and develop an understanding of how this genre evolved.
• Students will work in groups of 4 to construct a timeline of jazz. They will use the timeline at the back of the book Jazz and bring it to the present.
• How has the music changed from the beginning?
• What do ragtime, bebop, swing, hip hop, rap has in common in relationship to jazz?
• The students will present their timeline using posters, PowerPoint’s, brochures, etc. Graphics, pictures, drawings, etc. will be included.
• Students will select one poem from the book Jazz by Walter Dean Myers that spoke to them. They are to create a picture that will depict the poem. They may use collage, drawings, water colors, etc. The poem will need to accompany your drawing.
• A wonderful book to include when celebrating Kwanzaa in December
• Since April is Jazz appreciation month then this would be a great opportunity to use this website that includes lesson plans to introduce or re-introduce the book jazz, poetry or the wonderful music of jazz.
Related web sites
April is Jazz Appreciation Month
Detailed lesson plans about the history, styles, and distinguishing characteristics of jazz.
Jazz Music Internet and Related Website Resources
Resources to use when researching jazz, jazz players, timelines, music, etc.
Jazz Central Station
Artists, reviews, sample music and interview files, artists’ picks, information for jazz students, and an extensive jazz news section await you at this site.
RealAudio Internet Radio Stations
A listing of Internet radio stations playing jazz right now.
NetRadio Jazz offers a choice of jazz styles.
Gallery of Jazz Art and Photos
Wall-to-wall jazz photos and art.
Still Going On
An interactive exhibit celebrating the life and times of African-American composer William Grant Still, with images and audio files.
This site includes a time-line of jazz styles and lots of web links.
William Ransom Hogan Archive of New Orleans Jazz
A listing of the holdings of the archives and a beginner’s introduction to jazz from the archive’s curator.
Archives of African American Music and Culture
This site features extensive links to jazz-related sites.
This site features lesson plans, activities and history of jazz.
National Education Association Jazz in the School’s Curriculum
This is “a web-based curriculum and DVD toolkit that explores jazz as an indigenous American art form and as a means to understand American history.” This is an excellent resource.
Smithsonian Jazz Class
This is a real treasure trove of lesson plans and information related to jazz.
April is Jazz Appreciation Month
Detailed lesson plans about the history, styles, and distinguishing characteristics of jazz.
This site includes biographies, timelines, an interactive game, interviews with musicians and several excellent lesson plans.
The English Room --- 30 Days of Poetry (for middle and high school students)
This site has lessons plans for 30 days of poetry writing. Students will write a different type of poetry each day, such as concrete poetry, synonym poetry, diamonte, contrast poetry, and sense poetry.
Jazz at Lincoln Center
This site includes a wealth of information about activities at the Lincoln Center, including links to information for students and to curriculum guides related to jazz.
Biographies of Jazz Musicians
This site provides links to biography sites for jazz singers and musicians in alphabetical order.
Scholastic: Culture and Change: Black History—History of Jazz
At this site, you are able to listen by audio clips as Wynton Marsalis explains improvisation, explains the Ellington Effect, and gives a short history of bebop.
Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns
This is a companion site to the Ken Burns’s “Jazz” ten-part series.
National Public Radio’s online jazz programs and information site.
Red Hot Jazz
Online recordings of jazz before 1930.
Parker, Robert Andrew. Piano starts here: the young Art Tatum. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2008. Print. ISBN-13: 978-0375839658
Hannah, Jonny. Hot jazz special. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press, 2005. Print. ISBN-13: 978-0763623081
Winter, Jonah, and Sean Qualls. Dizzy. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2006. Print. ISBN-10: 0439507375
Pinkney, Andrea Davis, and J. Brian Pinkney. Ella Fitzgerald: the tale of a vocal virtuosa. New York: Jump at the Sun/Hyperion Books for Children, 2002. Print. ISBN-10: 0786805684
Taylor, Debbie A., and Frank Morrison. Sweet music in Harlem. New York: Lee & Low Books, 2004. Print. ISBN-13: 978-1584301653
Weatherford, Carole Boston, and Sean Qualls. Before John was a jazz giant: A song of John Coltrane. New York: Henry Holt, 2008. Print. ISBN-10: 0805079947
Weinstein, Muriel Harris, and R. Gregory Christie. When Louis Armstrong taught me scat. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2008. Print. ISBN-13: 978-0811851312
Burleigh, Robert, and Marek Los. Lookin' for Bird in the big city. San Diego, Calif.: Harcourt, 2001. Print. ISBN-13: 978-0152020316
Gollub, Matthew, and Karen Hanke. The jazz fly: starring the Jazz Bugs, the Jazz fly, Willie the worm, Nancy the gnat, Sammy the centipede. Santa Rosa, Calif.: Tortuga Press, 2000. Print. ISBN-13: 978-1889910178
Friedman, Carol. Nicky the jazz cat. New York: PowerHouse Books, 2005. Print. ISBN-10: 1576872483
Raschka, Christopher, Richard Allen, and Rory Young. Charlie Parker played be bop. Pine Plains, N.Y.: Live Oak Media, 2000. Print. ISBN-13: 978-0531070956
Young, Judy. R is for Rhyme: a Poetry Alphabet. Sleeping Bear Press, 2010. Print. ISBN-13: 978-1585365197
Giovanni, Nikki, Tony Medina, Willie Perdomo, and Michele Scott. Hip hop speaks to children: a celebration of poetry with a beat. Naperville, Ill.: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2008. Print. ISBN-13: 978-1402210488
Ehrhardt, Karen, Rob Mathes, James Williams, and Robert Roth. This jazz man. Pine Plains, N.Y.: Live Oak Media, 2010. Print. ISBN-13: 978-1430107408
Igus, Toyomi, and Michele Wood. I see the rhythm. San Francisco, CA: Children's Book Press, 1998. Print. ISBN-13: 978-0892392124
About the Author and Illustrator
JERRY MCCREA/THE STAR LEDGER
“Walter Dean Myers grew up in Harlem, the son of a janitor. Today, he’s the author of nearly 100 books that are very popular with teenagers.
Growing up, there was always one person Myers struggled to impress with his writing — his father, Herbert Dean.
Walter and his son Christopher work on books together — as writer and illustrator.”
Go to the website to listen to an interview with Walter Dean Myers and his son, illustrator, Christopher Myers.