Available from Zeezok Publishing, the books can be ordered individually and as a complete set. There are also CDs and study guides available that complement the books. You can also view pdf samples of a few pages from each book.
As a music teacher, I am always looking for ways to incorporate information and knowledge about the lives of the master composers and great musicians into the education of my students. This conveniently segues nicely into our homeschool day! As much as I am passionate about music, I have never wanted to be “that mom” who drilled it into their kids heads so far that it made them hate music. So we work with music a couple times a week, and I try to find stories and things that will help them connect with composers and music in other ways.
When I saw these listed on Zeezok Publishing’s website, I knew I had to request a review copy of a couple of the titles. They generously sent four beautiful books at no charge: Schumann and his Mascott Ziff, Edward MacDowell and His Cabin in the Pines, Stephen Foster and His Little Dog Tray, and Franz Schubert and His Merry Friends. I was in awe upon opening the box of treasures, and couldn’t believe how well done each was. I had been expecting thin little books written in a way that would be short, sweet and to the point so kids could get through the life of the composer easier.
I was in for a terrific surprise! Each book is printed in a font large enough for kids to easily read, but the story is wonderfully written such that kids of all ages really will enjoy it. I caught myself reading ahead on more than one occasion while we read these together. The vocabulary is approximately 3rd-4th grade, but the story is so engaging that if the younger kids have a little trouble, they will want to work to sound it out and not mind asking for help. I loved the story telling style of the books, the writing reminded me of some of the great classics, with lots of colorful descriptions that help little ones stretch their imagination and ability to visualize the author’s descriptions. They have really engaged my twins’ interest in wanting to learn about music and music history, I find them asking very persistently to read more from the current book, every day. I think I will be buying the Paganini book to make the violin loving boy happy!
These books have plenty of pictures to make the visual kids happy, but the writing is what really brings it together, helping develop their vocabulary and understanding of the written word through vivid descriptions. The illustrations are gorgeous black and white line-art drawings that really bring the stories to life, and complement the books’ overall look and feel. The boys have always loved pictures in the books they read, and it has been a difficult transition to some of the “big kid books” which don’t have as many pictures as their Dr. Seuss books do.
The thing I love the most about the great composer series is that there is something for everyone: great historical stories, fantastic illustrations, relevant sheet music in every book, audio CDs you can purchase, and study guides to help with teaching this important subject in your homeschool.