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Jazz Appreciation Month for Kids


From Bebop to Big Band, Dixieland to Ragtime, Swing to Latin, Afro-Cuban to Cool: April is Jazz Appreciation Month! Head to the library with your little ones to learn more about jazz’s history, legends, and influence on music today. Discover the spirit of jazz by exploring books and music in the library’s collection or by attending one of our upcoming programs! Read on to learn more.

Developed by Black musicians in early 20th century New Orleans, the most diverse city in the South at the time, jazz drew from an extraordinary blend of African, Caribbean, American, and European influences. A mix of blues, ragtime, and other styles of music, jazz is characterized by its vivacious and rhythmic energy (National Museum of American History). Below are just a few of our favorite children’s titles about the genre:

  • Jazz for Lunch! by Jarrett Dapier
    • A boy and his aunt cook a feast of jazz-inspired dishes. Nat King Cole Slaw, Billie Hollandaise Sauce, and Thelonious Monk Fish are on the menu in this deliciously fun title that is sure to get readers moving with its musical use of words.
  • Playing Through the Turnaround by Mylisa Larsen
    • When budget cuts threaten their music program and favorite teacher, Mr. Lewis, the 5th period students at Connor Eubanks Middle School rally and make a plan to stop the cuts. Their actions prompt a school-wide movement, but will it be enough?
  • Mambo, Mucho, Mambo!  The Dance that Crossed Color Lines by Dean Robbins
    • Jazz and Latin music merge in this nonfiction title about Machito and the Afro Cubans, a groundbreaking Latin Jazz band that performed at the historic Palladium Ballroom in 1940s New York. Together, the band and music hall broke down segregation barriers and encouraged people of all races and backgrounds to embrace the power of music and dance.

Here are a few more books to pique your interest in jazz music:

In addition to reading about jazz, try giving it a listen! Sample different jazz artists on Hoopla, a digital streaming platform available for free with your library card. You’ll find greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, and Miles Davis, as well as lesser-known (but still great!) artists like Shirley Scott and Sonny Stitt.


View live music and films for the whole family! Check out upcoming jazz programs hosted by Varina Library:

  • Jazz in the Afternoon: Jason Jenkins Quartet
    • Saturday, April 15, 2-3:30PM
    • It's Jazz Appreciation Month and the Jason Jenkins Quartet is back to deliver an afternoon of musical entertainment. So get dolled up in your best glad rags and join other cool hepcats in our Grand Stairwell.
  • Jazz Night Cinema: Jazz Ball
    • Wednesday, April 19, 6-7PM
    • Jazz Ball (1956, NR, 56 min.) A made-for-TV musical revue featuring jazz greats from the 1930s to the 1950s.  Source material includes period film and TV performances, as well as "soundies," musical film shorts made during the 1940s. 
  • Jazz Night Cinema: Soul
    • Wednesday, April 26, 6-8PM
    • Soul (2021, PG, 100 min.) Should band teacher Joe follow his dreams? With themes of creativity and perseverance, this award-winning animated movie has an all-star international cast with fantastic jazz music. 
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