Enhancing Classroom Music with Picture Books

July 1, 1992 / By: Margaret M. Hoffee

Children’s picture books offer many opportunities for integrating language, visual art, movement and music in the teaching of music to first-grade children. Several different types of books within the picture book genre are available.

Song picture books are perhaps the most obvious type of book for use in the music class. These books can be a wonderful vehicle for introducing a new song or a way of breathing new life into a well-known favorite. Illustrated poetry books offer opportunities for working with recitation, rhythmic or speech ostinati, antiphonal speech or special sound effects.

Some books lend themselves particularly well to instrumental or vocal settings. These are often cumulative stories or stories that have a repeated line or verse.

Because music is woven into the fabric of a child’s life, it is logical that the simple stories and rhymes found in picture books help children grasp musical concepts. Both visual representation and verbal descriptions add another dimension to music learning.

Several books in this genre of literature encourage children’s natural impulse to move. These include those which refer directly to movement or dance and those in which the language or the pictures imply movement.

Two other categories of picture books useful to music are those which give information about music and those which can serve as a vehicle for combining all or several of the above-mentioned experiences.

Picture books can thus be extended from a two-dimensional, oral/visual art form in which children experience the spoken word and a visual interpretation to a multi-media art form which offers children oral, visual, kinesthetic and musical experiences.