Jazz Baby - Bebop

By Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrations by Laura Freeman


  • understanding the author’s message
  • connecting personal experiences with a story
  • reading with expression, emphasizing rhythm and rhyme
  • understanding alliterative and figurative language

Supportive Text Features:

  • familiar words and concepts
  • repetitive phrases and rhyming
  • common sound words

Essential Components of Reading Instruction:

Phonemic awareness: rhyming
Phonics: initial consonant blends and digraphs
Vocabulary: jazz, rhythm, thump, shimmy, plink, jitterbug, bass, sizzles, hippity, boogie; contractions
Fluency: reread the story independently or with a partner
Comprehension: determine what is important, make connections, ask questions

High-frequency Words: the, in, your, as, it, and, all, day, make, them, if, you, a, that, you, all, long

Getting Ready to Read

  1. Introduce the concept and vocabulary by asking open-ended questions:
    • How do people make music? What are some instruments people use to make music?
    • What kinds of music do you like?
    • Many people like to dance to music. What kinds of dances might you do to your favorite kinds of music?
  2. Connect children’s past experiences with the book vocabulary:
    • Call children’s attention to the title. Read: “Jazz Baby.” Make sure they understand that jazz is a type of music and talk about what the title means.
    • Ask children to use the title and picture on the cover to predict what might happen in the story.
    • Show the back cover and read the copy. Ask children to think about what a jazzy beat might sound like.
    • Have children suggest some words they might read in the story.
    • Give children the book and have them look at the pictures. Ask them to tell what happens in the story as they turn the pages.
  3. Remind children of the strategies they know and can use with unfamiliar words:
    • Ask them, “What will you do if you come to a word you don’t know?”
    • Encourage children to look for chunks of words they know and to blend the sounds quickly.
    • Suggest that children read on past an unfamiliar word in order to use the context of the story to unlock the word.
    • Tell children also to think about what they know about making music and dancing. Then encourage them to choose a word that makes sense in the sentence.
  4. Be aware of the following book and text features:
    • The book contains numerous high-frequency words and many other familiar words.
    • Pages 2 and 3, with publisher information and dedications, also contain an illustration that introduces all the children in the story.
    • The story is written as a rhythmic poem. The second and fourth lines of each verse rhyme.
    • Each verse begins with the same phrase, set in curved type.
    • The sentences are broken into phrases to create rhythm and meaning.
    • Several sentences have no stated subject.
    • Alliterative words and phrases and sound words are used to mimic the sounds of the band and describe the dances.
    • The pictures support and extend the text, but much of the story is contained in the text.

Reading the Book

  1. Set a purpose by telling children to read about what the children do when they join the jazz band.

  2. Have children read the first few pages silently. Each child should be reading at his or her own pace. Check for understanding with simple comments such as: “Tell me how the story begins,” or “How is this story different from most of the stories we have been reading?” Then direct children to continue reading. As they read, watch for indications of comprehension: changes in facial expressions, rhythmic movements, giggles, audible comments, rereading, turning back to a page.

  3. Look for these reading behaviors during children’s first reading:
    • Do they rely on the print while reading?
    • Do they have a strong sight vocabulary?
    • Do they use known sound chunks to read unknown words?
    • Are they monitoring meaning and rereading when they lose meaning?
    • Do they easily move from page to page?
    • Are they using punctuation and phrasing to gain meaning?
    • Do they make accurate predictions?
    • Can they connect the text to their own experiences?
    • Do they react to the text even though they are reading silently?
  4. As children read, note what they are doing. Help them build independence by being available, but not intervening too quickly. Watch for changes in children’s facial expressions and use these as signals to ask questions such as: “What made you smile?” or “Do you need some help?” Also encourage children’s attempts by making comments such as: “I like how you are reading,” or “That was a good strategy.”

  5. Possible teaching points to address based on your observations:
    • Review how to find a known part or sound chunk in an unknown word.
    • Show children how to use analogies to move from the known to the unknown when encountering new words.
    • Review using grammar (syntax) to unlock words by considering the sentence structure or parts of speech in the sentence.
    • Review how to determine what is important in a sentence or story.
    • Explore the message and feeling the author is trying to convey.
    • Model asking questions or making “I wonder . . .” statements to extend comprehension.
    • Review using punctuation marks to guide the meaning-making process and to reading with expression.
    • Explore how punctuation, line breaks, phrasing, rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, and figurative language all help make the story sound like music when read aloud.
    • Work with words from the story with initial consonant blends and digraphs: blow, please, plink, pluck, drum, snap, strike, strings, sway, swing; shake, shimmy, thump. Explore other words with these sounds.
    • Call attention to the following contractions: you’ve, you’re. Review the use of an apostrophe to take the place of the missing letters.
    • Model how to revisit the text to find specific examples or ideas in the story. Revisit JAZZ BABY to review the meaning of the title and to find descriptive, figurative language that adds to the fun and flavor of the story.

After the First Reading

  1. Have children confirm their predictions about what happened in the story.

  2. Elicit children’s ideas about how the band members felt as they played their instruments or danced. What might someone listening or watching feel?

  3. Reread page 5 together. Discuss the meaning of “You’ve got music in your hands.” What other parts of our bodies might have music in them? How could we show this?

  4. Connect children’s own experiences to the story with a discussion of any live musical performances they have seen. Who made the music? What instruments were used? Did people dance? If so, how did they dance? Encourage children to use some of the words from the book, or other descriptive and figurative language, to describe their experiences.

  5. Have small groups of children work in pairs to practice reading the book aloud and acting out the verses. As one group reads, the other group may clap their hands, snap their fingers, and/or dance.

Second Reading

  1. Have children reread the book silently or to a partner.

  2. This is a time for assessment. While they are reading, watch what children do and what they use from the teaching time. Alternatively, you might take a running record on one child as an assessment of the child’s reading behavior.

Cross-Curricular Activities

Art: Have children listen to some jazz music and then finger paint in response to how the beat, rhythm, or melody of the music makes them feel. As an alternative, give children crayons or markers and let them draw as they listen to the music. Before starting, talk about colors and the feelings some colors convey. Also make sure children understand that they do not have to draw specific objects; abstract “designs” are fine.

Music: Make a chart of all the descriptive and figurative words and phrases in JAZZ BABY that describe music and dancing. Then play a variety of jazz pieces for children. Have them match words and phrases from the book to parts of the music.
    If you wish to explore music in more depth, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra has a website for students and teachers with suggestions for many interesting activities.

Science: Talk with children about the sounds made by some of their favorite classroom rhythm instruments. What actions are needed to create the sounds? (rubbing, blowing, hitting, and so on) Explore how sounds can be altered to make them louder, softer, or different.
Next, explain how all instruments create vibrations in some way to produce sounds. If a tuning fork is available, strike it and then put one end into water. The ripples show how vibrations travel invisibly. In the same way, the sound vibrations produced by instruments travel invisibly to listeners’ ears.

Math: Introduce the following musical terms and explain what they mean: solo, duet, trio, quartet, quintet, sextet, septet, octet. Then display groupings of objects or shapes to represent the numbers one through eight. Ask children to match the musical words with the groups of objects or number of sides of the shapes. Finally, make a chart listing the words for musical groups and have children illustrate them with groups of objects or shapes. If shapes are used, talk about why there are no matches for a solo and duet.

Social Studies: Read IF I ONLY HAD A HORN: YOUNG LOUIS ARMSTRONG by Roxane Orgill. This is a biography of Louis Armstrong, the famous jazz musician. Talk about his life and choose one or more phrases from the JAZZ BABY to describe his music.
Use picture books to investigate the lives of some other jazz singers and musicians. Then discuss with children the contributions musicians make to people’s lives, their communities, and the world.

Writing: Have children brainstorm a list of other possible poems to write such as “Soccer Baby,” “Dance Baby,” “Book Baby,” or “Frog Baby.” Choose one and write a class poem/story modeled after JAZZ BABY.

Guided Reading with
Bebé musical

Guided Reading™: H        DRA: 14        Intervention: 14
16 pages, 182 words

Children reading at guided reading level H are moving into an early fluent stage of reading. All the directions given for the introduction, first reading, and second reading of the English edition can be used with the Spanish edition of the book. The focus of the teacher’s support should be on building comprehension, fluency, confidence, and independence. To read the book successfully, children need the same kinds of support as their English-speaking classmates. Second language learners often benefit from acting out new words, seeing pictures, and talking about them using concrete examples.

The Spanish edition has many familiar words. In Spanish, the grammatical construction to show something is pleasant or that it is liked is an idiom. Call children’s attention to the phrase: “A Abu le gusta jugar . . .” on page 8. Show them how the same construction is used on page 12 in the phrase, “A Tata le encantan . . .” Also point out the use of an exclamation point at both the beginning and end of the exclamatory phrase on pages 8 and sentence on page 16. The marks appear “upside down” at the beginning and “right side up” at the end.

Discuss with children the difference between the inclusive word “abuelo” and the more personal, endearing words “Abu” and “Tata.” Ask children to share the special words or names they have for their own grandparents. Explore the origins of the names.

The book language used may differ from children’s oral language. Comparing any differences will help children read and understand the story. Also help children understand that we often speak differently than we write, and that both ways of using language are important.


About This Title

Guided Reading:




Interest Level:

Grades PreK - 2

Reading Level:

Grades 1 - 1


Poetry, Music, Multiethnic interest, Dance, Cultural Diversity, Optimism/Enthusiasm, People In Motion


Bebop African American English Grades PreK-2, Emergent Dual Language, Emergent English, Bebop English Guided Reading Level H, Bebop Realistic Fiction Collection Grades PreK-2, Dual Language Levels D-I Collection, Diverse Backgrounds Collection English 6PK, Multicultural Collection 10, Multicultural Collection 12, Multicultural Collection 13, Multicultural Collection 14, Multicultural Collection 15, Multicultural Collection 11, Reading Recovery Bebop Books collection, Multicultural Collection 16, Bebop English Fiction, Infant Toddler Instructional Interactions

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