Music & Visual Arts in Picture Books

Presented by: Mary Beth Bauernschub

Subject Area(s):

Grade Level(s):


Two books with Jazz as an element are explored. By listening to the way they are read, first without and then with music, one book goes through changes in interpretation. Both books’ visual styles are compared and discussed



Raschka, Chris. Charlie Parker Played Be Bop. New York: Orchard Books, 1992.

Raschka, Chris & Allen, Richard. Charlie Parker Played Be Bop. Pine Plains, NY: Live Oak Media (cd or tape), 2003.

Gillespie, Dizzy & Parker, Charlie. Town Hall, New York City, June 22, 1945. A Night in Tunisia. Uptown Records, 2005 (optional selection)

Isadora, Rachel. Ben’s Trumpet. New York: Scholastic, 1979.

Tape/CD player



Charlie/Ben Checklist; Charlie/Ben Venn Diagram (files attached)



For background notes see SM1_CharlieBen.


Direct Instruction: 

·         TL warms class up by showing the cover of Charlie Parker Played Be Bop.  TL asks “What shapes and colors can you see?” and “What are the main subjects on this cover?”  Before reading the book TL informs students that Charlie Parker was a real person and was one of the founders of an improvisational jazz style called be bop.  The author, Chris Raschka was influenced by Parker’s music and wrote this picture book.

·         TL tells students that they will hear the story read 3 times.  They should listen for changes in how the story sounds and how they interpret the meaning (or feel) during each reading.

·         TL conducts the first reading of Charlie Parker Played Be Bop.  Students will then hear two taped versions of the story read by Richard Allen and Chris Raschka, first without music and then with background music.

·         TL introduces and reads Ben’s Trumpet. 


Modeling and guided practice:

·         After each reading of Charlie Parker…, TL leads a guided discussion on students’ observations of words and illustrations.  Some specific questions include: “What shapes or colors do you see in the illustrations?” “What sounds did you hear?” “Did the author read the book differently than I did?” “How did the music change your understanding of the book?”


·         After reading Ben’s Trumpet, TL leads a discussion on the subject, illustrations, and similarities/differences between the two books.


·         Listen to a selection of early jazz trumpet music (e.g., Louis Armstrong’s Memphis Blues) and ask how this music can make a difference in understanding the story.





Independent practice:

·         Students complete 2 worksheets:  Charlie/Ben Checklist and Charlie/Ben Venn Diagram to demonstrate their understanding of the concepts.

·         See SM2_CharlieBen and SM3_CharlieBen.


Sharing and reflecting:

Supporting Files: