Nonfiction Monday – Steel Drumming at the Apollo

As an English teacher, I’m always looking for ways to bring nonfiction to my reluctant readers.  These are kids who haven’t discovered reading for pleasure, and many of them are boys.  If I’m lucky, I can sell them on a novel by Walter Dean Myers, Joseph Bruchac,  David Lubar, or Jack Gantos…but nonfiction?  Good luck.

That’s why I was so excited to see a review copy of Steel Drumming at the Apollo from Lee & Low Books.  It’s nonfiction, in the form of a photo essay that follows a group of high school musicians from Schenectady, NY as they compete in a series of Amateur Nights at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem.  As soon as I read the premise of this book, I was hooked — a group of city high school kids who get to play at a place so rich in history and so symbolic of the Harlem Renaissance.   Text by Trish Marx and photographs by Ellen B. Sinisi tell the story in vivid color, featuring details of the competition and the kids’ preparation for it, profiles of the young artists, and backstage snapshots at the Apollo.  The photographs and text bring the young musicians’ steel drumming to life.

The book even includes a cd of the band’s music, tucked in a pocket inside the back cover. And these kids can play!  Their story will be an inspiration to other city kids who dream of making it big.  Steel Drumming at the Apollo is a terrific choice for kids who need a fun, accessible introduction to nonfiction.  They’ll be singing its praises and dancing along as they read.

8 Replies on “Nonfiction Monday – Steel Drumming at the Apollo

  1. I’ve seen that, too. By middle school, though, too many kids are being fed a steady diet of textbook and test prep reading, which is enough to make anyone dislike nonfiction.

  2. Just wondering…

    Kate Messner,
    You came to our school a few weeks ago and I was wondering, do your kids like to write? I do and because you’re an author I was just wondering if they liked to do what you love to do. I’d really like to know.

  3. zoey madill school

    wow!that was alot of fun and interisting. what enspired you to write or who inspired you to write?is it fun to write?i like to write myself.i would haves dreams having a book published of mine. my family says i am very good at writing stories. on my birthday i get a notebook cool pencils and crayons. sometimes when gage and jada is board i read to them.good times! one last question. are you to write anymore books? or are you going to stop on the book spit fire!this was fun!

  4. Erikka madill school

    Did you have fun coming to see us.Hi your hard tack did not taste good.would you let your daughter be a person in the book spitfire?

  5. Andrew Madill

    Thanks for coming to our school. Hard tack is really bad . what is your favorite animal? Do you like the Yankees?

  6. Matthew Madill School

    How many authors have you met? Also how many schools have you gone to this year? Can you come to our school again when you write another book?