For most of my career as an elementary music educator, I worked at low-income and high-needs school districts. Many of my students didn't enjoy reading because it was hard for them or they struggled to find stories they enjoyed. I quickly learned that interactive books or those with interactive opportunities captivated even my most reluctant students.
The problem? There weren't that many of them. And tying them into my music ed curriculum was sometimes a stretch.
My search for music picture books
I started asking around the elementary music community to learn what storybooks other educators used in their classrooms. There were three types of picture books that popped up again and again:
Non-fiction biographies of musicians and composers
Books about instruments (like THIS IS MUSIC: DRUM or TUBBY THE TUBA)
Sweet, inspirational stories (like THE BEAR AND THE PIANO)
How it started
At first, I just told my ideas verbally. My students and I would act them out or I'd throw some chicken scratch drawings up on the dry erase board. And the result was better than I could have hoped for. I had a ton of fun...and so did the kids.
After some encouragement from my husband, I decided to take the leap of faith and figure out how to publish a picture book. I'm not going to lie, it was overwhelming. There was a lot to learn and even more that I hadn't considered. But I was determined to make my dream a reality, so I pushed forward.
At first, I wanted to pursue traditional publishing so I started querying agents. (Looking back at what I submitted...I wish I'd done more research first!) Literary agents felt that my books were a risk - there were titles out there like mine and they weren't exactly "mass market."
I had a choice. I could change my manuscripts, write something else, or I could self-publish.
I decided to self-publish my musical picture books and the results were better than I ever could have hoped.
I'll be honest, at first, no one knew my books existed - I made a lot of mistakes that cost me time and money. (That's why I have a blog that teaches others how to get their books published!) But once I figured out the business side of things, music teachers everywhere started sending me pictures and videos of their students reading my stories. Of them learning, growing, and being inspired.
My heart feels full just thinking about it.
So why do I write children's music books?
I guess the better question is...why not?