top of page


Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler and R. Gregory Christie

Updated: Aug 12, 2021

K-2 Resource-Jazz Baby
Download PDF • 89KB

Welcome to Jazz Baby

My son is about to turn 9. When he was little, Jazz Baby written by Lisa Wheeler and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie was one of his favorites. He flipped through the pages often, and we even thought that he and jazz baby looked a bit alike. Do you?

Jazz Baby is our first Shelter in Place selection because it's a fun and comforting book for us that we've been reading as a family for years. We think that it might have a positive effect on you, too. This book portrays multiple generations in a family, uses sounds to explore scat and other jazz rhythms, and prepares us for a little down time. We could all use that, yes?

Jazz Baby is also a book that can easily anchor some deeper learning about jazz, family, and American history through the lens of social justice standards. So relax, cuddle up with a kiddo (or a cat) or more, and learn a little bit with Jazz Baby.


Remember how soothing it is to have someone read aloud to you? Experience it through this read aloud of Jazz Baby by Ms. Shay!

Extend the Learning Through Social Justice Standards

This Shelter in Place learning is framed by the Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards, which function as lenses through which we can create anti-bias learning experiences.

The four anchors of these standards are Identity, Diversity, Justice, and Action, and there are differing grade level objectives for grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. For this book, we are focusing in on K-2 grade standards for Identity and Diversity.

Relevant Identity & Diversity Standards for Grades K-2

  • Identity Standard 5: I see that the way my family and I do things is both the same as and different from how other people do things, and I am interested in both.

  • Diversity Standard 7: I can describe some ways that I am similar to and different from people who share my identities and those who have other identities.

  • Diversity Standard 8: I want to know about other people and how our lives and experiences are the same and different.

  • Diversity Standard 10: I find it interesting that groups of people believe different things and live their daily lives in different ways.

Discussion Questions Correlating to the Listed Social Justice Standards Jazz Musician Farnell Newton

In our family, we are lucky to have a resident jazz musician, my husband Farnell Newton. Here are his discussion questions that can be used with the book:

  • Jazz is a music that was born out of the Black experience in America. It combines Negro Spirituals, African music traditions, and classical music from Europe. Does your family listen to jazz music? Who are some of your favorite jazz musicians? If you don't listen to jazz music, what kind of music do you listen to? What kind of music traditions have influenced your family?

  • Jazz Baby describes a family's bedtime or nap routine. What do you notice about what steps the family takes to get the baby ready for bed?

  • What is your family's routine when it's time for nap or bed? How is it similar to Jazz Baby's family? How is it different?

  • What is your favorite part of Jazz Baby's bedtime routine?

  • What is your favorite part of your own bedtime routine?

  • How is your family similar to Jazz Baby's family? How is your family different

  • What would you like to ask Jazz Baby about their family if you could? What would you like to know about Jazz Baby's family that isn't covered in the book?

  • What would you like to share about your family if you had a chance to talk to Jazz Baby?


Put on these chill tunes to mellow out and embody the jazz baby vibe. Curated by Portland jazz trumpeter Noah Simpson, our playlist can be experienced in two ways:

Extend the Learning Through Cultural Resources

Here is a small selection of resources that you can easily use to extend the learning that reading Jazz Baby can inspire. These can be used with children from young to older, depending on who you are engaging in the learning process in your household or classroom.

A resource from the Jazz Educators Network that gives some simple DIY at home exercises to practice improvisation with your kids.

In this video, Hoots the Owl demonstrates scat and leads a call and response song with the kids and adults on Sesame Street. This is a throw back -- be ready for some nostalgia and for your kids to ask why the screen looks so fuzzy.

A resource from Jazz at Lincoln Center's Jazz Academy. This includes a short written description and embedded videos demonstrating different scat techniques.

A resource from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. This highlights various Black American jazz artists with audio clips and descriptions of greats from Ella Fitzgerald to Clark Terry.

In this video, author and illustrator Gregory Christie describes his artistic style and highlights some of his work.


Gratitudes to the author and illustrator of this book and all who contributed to the resources we collected here. Thank you to our readers who are with us on this journey. Take care...


bottom of page