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Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Read + Listen




This lesson is a guided reading experience designed to accompany Jewell Parker Rhodes' book, Bayou Magic. Lesson content was curated by Noah Simpson as part of his work in the Social Justice in K-12 Education course at Portland State University and was designed as an immersive reading and listening experience to ignite radical imagination around race and identity. Each playlist was created with the spirit of the story, time, land, and people directly related to the book and author at the heart.

You may also be interested in our READ + DISCUSS lesson plan based on this same book for other kinds of prompts for conversation with young people.

We imagine many ways to read and enjoy the book and playlist pairing:

  • First, read the book. Then, listen to the playlist while drawing or reflective writing together.

  • On the day that you will be reading the book, start the day out listening to the playlist. Later in the day, read the book together.

  • There is no wrong way to pair these resources. Connections can be explicitly made or the two resources can simply exist and resonate in the space together.

  • You may want to focus on one song in the playlist. Listen actively together. Then, ask your kiddo or student how the music makes them feel and what it makes them think about.


The setting is New Orleans, and it is 9-year-old Maddy’s turn to spend a bayou summer with her Grandmere, who just might be a witch. At Grandmere’s, Maddy begins to learn about the community in Bon Temps that formed after slavery, her family's connection to Mami Wata, and the way the oil pipeline under the water is impacting the natural world. In the end, it is Maddy's legacy to be part of the solution.


This open-ended invitation to read and listen is designed to be part of a larger life-long commitment to anti-racist teaching and learning for the student and the facilitator. Reading Is Resistance sees reading as an opportunity to seed deeper conversations and opportunities for action around racial equity in our communities. We hold the belief that being anti-racist is a process of learning (and unlearning) over time.


Song 1: Whoopin' Blues by Nicholas Payton

Song 2: Neph by Trombone Shorty

Song 3: In the Sweet Bye and Bye by Rebirth Brass Band

Song 4: Hot Sausage Rag by New Birth Brass Band

Song 5: Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans? by Wynton Marsalis

Song 6: Brooklyn by Young Blood Brass Band

Song 7: How Deep Is the Ocean by Doc Cheathum and Nicholas Payton

Song 8: Struttin' with Some Barbecue by The Marsalis Family

Song 9: Drop Me Off in New Orleans by Kermit Ruffins

Song 10: Shallow Water by Donald Harrison


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