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cover of the book Song of the City

Song in the City

illustrated by Jenin Mohammed

On the way to church with her grandmother, Emmalene hears the sounds of the city as music, but Grandma Jean doesn’t notice the song until Emmalene helps her.
cover of the book Song of the City

Share this book

Grandma Jean needs help to hear the song in the city. Take a cue from her and Emmalene and head outside and have students spend 5-10 minutes with eyes closed, listening carefully to the sounds around them. What did they hear? Ask students to make a list that describes the sounds or names the things they heard. Talk as a group about what kids heard. Did they hear some sounds simultaneously? Could they hear distinctive sounds? Were there any sounds that they couldn’t identify? Was there ever a moment when they heard no sounds at all? 

Have students use precise language to write a poem about the sounds they heard and the feelings those sounds evoked. Have students present their poems to their classmates and open discussion about all the things we can hear when we stop to listen.

Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing

  1. Why was it so hard for Grandma Jean to hear the song in the city? Why do you think closing her eyes helped Grandma Jean hear the song that Emmalene was talking about?
  2. What does paying attention to the sounds in your surroundings help you learn about?
  3. How can both the sounds of the city and those of a choir be music? How are they the same? How are they different?
  4. Think of a time when you noticed beauty in something that other people did not. What was the situation? How did it make you feel to be the one to find that beauty?

Related Resources

The Story Behind the Book and an Explanation on Blindness by Daniel Bernstrom
Music to One’s Ears from Book Life
Ideas for Young Learners to Explore Sounds Around Their Neighborhood from Project Learning Tree

Read Along!

NEA Vice President Princess Moss reads Song in the City.

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