What’s one of the best ways to make a jazz fan for life? Start early. The books listed below can help, and they’re just 10 out of many excellent jazz-related children’s books that have been published in the past quarter-century or so. No rankings here, as these titles aren’t all meant for the same age group—although kids from preschool to middle school and beyond are likely to get a kick out of each one.
Before John Was a Jazz Giant by Carole Boston Weatherford (illustrated by Sean Qualls) - Henry Holt, 2008
The titular John is Coltrane; Weatherford tells the story of his youth in 1930s North Carolina and how it inspired his later music. Meanwhile, Qualls works moody magic with a color palette that seems to anticipate the saxophonist’s ’50s and ’60s masterpieces.
Mick Carlon: Riding on Duke’s Train (Leapfrog Press, 2011)
Roxane Orgill and Leonard Jenkins (illustrator): If I Only Had a Horn: Young Louis Armstrong (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2002)
Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney: Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra (Hyperion, 1998)