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A recent report released by the Center on Educational Policy (opens in a new window) reports that since No Child Left Behind (opens in a new window) was put into effect six years ago, instructional time for almost everything other than reading and math has declined significantly.

Instructional times for art and music are down by 35%; even time spent on social studies and science is down by just about that much (32% and 33% respectively).

But why not combine art, music, social studies, and science into reading — and even math? With the wealth of children’s books available, it seems to me that it’s more than possible — and might even motivate reluctant readers.

We’re close to the end of Black History Month, (opens in a new window) but it’s a celebration that can go well beyond February through words, image, and music — all within the covers of a seemingly simple picture book.

Jazz on a Saturday Night (opens in a new window) by Leo & Diane Dillon (Blue Sky/Scholastic) provides an introduction in words and image to jazz and some of its great artists, and suggests its impact on listeners. An accompanying CD features an introduction to the instruments, sounds, and vocals of jazz.

This is cool stuff for the classroom and beyond: one book that explores a piece of U.S. history, geography (exploring jazz locations and even migration), music (jazz and related forms), art (the work of the Dillons), language arts (reading aloud, speaking about jazz greats, writing about them and their music), and more. And it can all start with just one book.

Maybe it’s time to think about how no child is left behind when wonderful books — like Jazz on a Saturday Night — are opened and enjoyed.

About the Author

Reading Rockets’ children’s literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids’ books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

Publication Date
February 22, 2008