Little Melba and Her Big Trombone

By Katheryn Russell-Brown Illustrated by Frank Morrison

Multicultural Picture Book Read Aloud for 5th Grade

A few weeks ago you all learned about Malala Yousafzai.

What did she do that made her famous?

(She became an advocate for girls' education)

Today we are going to learn about Melba Doretta Liston who is also an inspiration to women, she was one of the first women, of any race, to become a world-class trombone player; composer; and arranger.

But before we read our story there are two words that we have to learn.

Hand out note card. One side for each word, and have student write definition on the other side.

Keen: Having or showing eagerness or enthusiasm

When you hear this word in story make action.

Action - put hands by both sides of face while smiling

Mesmerized: Hold the attention of someone.

When you hear this word in story make action.

Action - two fingers pointing to my eyes and then pointing to you

Introduce the story- Little Melba and Her Big Trombone.

Melba was born in 1926 played in big bands during the 1950s and 1960s. This was during a time when segregation was an issue.

What is segregation?

(the separation of an ethnic, racial, religious, or other minority group from the dominant majority)

Melba was the only female jazz trombonist to stand comparison with the best of her male counterparts. Out on the road in the 1950s, she was invariably the only woman musician in traveling bands,

Author: Katheryn Russell-Brown is a Professor of Law and the Director of the Center for Race and Race Relations at the University of Florida. A radio broadcast in 2008 about Liston inspired Russell-Brown to research the musician and eventually to write Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, her first picture book

Illustrator Frank Morrison won several award-winning books published by LEE & LOW BOOKS.

During story question: 1. Why did Melba and her family move to Los Angeles?

(The recession of 1937-38 is sometimes called “the recession within the Depression.” It came at a time when the recovery from the Great Depression was far from complete and the unemployment rate was still very high)

2. Why were people from the south mean to Melba?

(Melba experienced discrimination based on her race and for being a woman in a male-dominated artistic realm. Yet she performed all over the world, received many honors such as Jazz Master designation from the National Endowment for the Arts, and she eventually formed her own band. She was composing as recently as the 1990s)

After story question: 1. What impact did Melba have on music history?

(Melba was one of the first women of any race to become a world-class trombone virtuoso – playing, composing and arranging. Many people believe that she was inspiring, and a role model for women of all ages)

Background knowledge:

This read aloud is planned for fifth graders. "Little Melba and Her Big Trombone" is a picture book about a young women that became a world-class trombone player; composer; and arranger.This particular book demonstrates honor and celebrates diversity, provides in-depth treatment of cultural issues, and is rich in cultural details. This book is from a recommended Multicultural and Anti-Bias Books for Children. It teaches the students about bias and prejudice, promotes respect for diversity, encourages social action and reinforces these addressed in education programs of a world of difference.