Welcome to Jazz book cover image


A Swing-Along celebration of America’s Music, Featuring “When the Saints Go Marching In”

By: Carolyn Sloan

Illustrated by: Jessica Gibson

Published: October 15, 2019

Publisher: Workman Publishing Company


I first fell in love with jazz music after our sons were in their high school’s jazz band. But, I was pretty ignorant about the history of jazz until I was exposed to it. Now I love it and enjoy playing it in the background while reading or working around the house.

Sloan introduces young readers to the history and performance of jazz instruments through a few cats who end up in a jazz club in New Orleans. One of the cats teaches the other two all about the intricacies of jazz music and some history too. Jazz lingo is defined both in the story and in a glossary at the end of the book. The cats have a great time listening to jazz music and joining musicians in a parade at the end of the book.

The best part is children can listen while they read by hitting the buttons for each instrument and example clips as they are explained in the story. Hear the rhythm section and the drum set (my favorite since we have a family of drummers) or listen to all the musicians do some improvisation while playing the song “When the Saints of Marching In”.

The illustrations show the time-period of the beginnings of jazz, fun atmosphere, and vibrant colors to help carry the excitement off the pages. Everyone on the pages is having a blast either playing or listening to the music.

The end of the book also includes a history of jazz music and where it all began, in the Congo Square of New Orleans. There is also a playlist of popular jazz songs. Some of my favorites were listed including “It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing”, “In the Mood”, and “Sing, Sing, Sing”. My favorite is “Birdland” and is definitely one you should have your kids listen to. My hope is that after reading this book with your kids, you pull up some of these songs on your favorite music app and expose your kids to some amazing jazz musicians.

By the end of the book, children will be introduced to instruments, a beat, many jazz musicians, and scat singing. This book would be great for elementary music teachers, homeschooling families, or families that want to introduce their kids to jazz. You should also check out my review of Sloan’s first book WELCOME TO THE SYMPHONY.

Carolyn Sloan is the author of Welcome to the Symphony. A songwriter and musician, she writes music for theater, television, and children. She is also a music educator at the Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn, NY where she lives with her family. As a teacher and conductor, Carolyn Sloan values having children experience music through the joy of actual music-making, teaching them to compose, play, sing, explore and listen with a critical ear.

Jessica Gibson is a mostly self-taught illustrator from Michigan with a passion for everything colorful and joyful, including jazz.

To purchase a copy of WELCOME TO JAZZ, click the photo below:

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Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to make a purchase through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase.

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