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Books We Love! Bringing the History of Women in Music to the Classroom

Where Are All the Black Female Composers?

By: Nathan Holder

Illustrated by Charity Russell

About: A compilation of information about Black women composers, each with a feature and an original portrait by Charity Russell.

Featured artists: Chiquinha Gonzaga, Nora Holt, Florence Price, Eva Jessye, Shirley Graham Du Bois, Avril Coleridge-Taylor, Undine Smith Moore, Irene Britton Smith, Zenobia Powell Perry, Margaret Bonds, Julia Perry, Dorothy Rudd Moore, Tania León, Eleanor Alberga, Cynthia Cozette Lee, Regina Harris Baiocchi, Pamela Z, Shirley J Thompson, Errollyn Wallen, Nkeiru Okoye, and Cassie Kinoshi.

Recommended age range: 6 and up

Where to buy: Nate Holder

Published: 2020

Nate Holder links: Website

Charity Russell links:


Red Bird Sings:

The Story of Zitkala-Ša,

Native American Author, Musician, and Activist

By: Gina Capaldi and Q. L. Pearce

Illustrated by Gina Capaldi

About: Zitkala-Ša was a Native American composer, musician, and activist who was forced to part ways with her culture but was able to reconnect with her heritage through music.

Featured artist: Zitkala-Ša

Recommended age range: 8 and up

Where to buy it: Birchbark

Published: 2019

Gina Capaldi links:

Q. L. Pearce links:


When Marian Sang

By: Pam Muñoz Ryan

Illustrated by Brian Selznick

About: Marian Anderson captivated an integrated audience of over 75,000 people at the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in 1939. Her voice crossed the barriers of racism to move audiences of all creeds and colors.

Featured artist: Marian Anderson

Recommended age range: 7 and up

Where to buy it: Indiebound

Published: 2002

Pam Muñoz Ryan links: Website

Brian Selznick links:


For the Love of Music:

The Remarkable Story of Maria Anna Mozart

By: Elizabeth Rusch

Illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

About: Maria Anna Mozart was one of Europe’s finest pianists by age 12. A child prodigy like her brother, she toured and shared her music as a young girl; however, unlike Wolfgang, she was discouraged from continuing to pursue music into adulthood. Read about her journey to continue playing music despite this double standard.

Featured artist: Maria Anna Mozart

Recommended age range: 5+

Where to buy it: Penguin

Published: 2011

Elizabeth Rusch links:

Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher links: Website


Leontyne Price:

Voice of a Century

By: Carole Boston Weatherford

Illustrated by Raul Colón

About: Mississippi native Leontyne Price faced racism, poverty, and several more intersectional obstacles on her path to becoming a beloved star of the opera stage. This is the story of she came to be the world’s most famous “Aida.”

Featured artist: Leontyne Price

Recommended age range: 5 and up

Where to buy it: Better World Books

Published: 2014

Carole Boston Weatherford links:

Raul Colón links: Website



Jazz Legend and Civil Rights Activist

By: Alice Brière-Haquet

Illustrated by Bruno Liance

About: Written in the form of a lullaby, this poignant picture book offers a melodic tale that is both a historic account of the iconic Nina Simone and a look at how far we've come and how far we still need to go for social justice and equality.

Featured artist: Nina Simone

Recommended age range: 4 and up

Where to buy it: Thriftbooks

Published: 2017

Alice Brière-Haquet links:

Bruno Liance links:


Dancing Hands:

How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln

By: Margarita Engle

Illustrated by Rafael López

About: The story of a child prodigy and Venezuelan refugee who came to the United States in search of a better life, and whose talent and passion led her to a solo performance at the White House during the Civil War.

Featured artist: Teresa Carreño

Recommended age range: 4 and up

Where to buy it: Kidsbooks

Published: 2019

Margarita Engle links:

Rafael Lopez links:


Strange Fruit:

Billie Holiday and the Power of a Protest Song

By: Gary Golio

Illustrated by Charlotte Riley-Webb

About: Billie Holiday was a Black woman born to two Jewish parents. She used her music to both entertain and educate audiences about the atrocities and injustices of racism. Her first performance of the song “Strange Fruit” changed her life forever.

Featured artist: Billie Holiday

Recommended age range: 8 and up

Where to buy it: Thriftbooks

Published: 2017

Gary Golio links: Website

Charlotte Riley-Webb links: Website


This collection was curated and compiled by Michaela Wright, with editing by Erin Schwab & Ian Vlahović.
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