A Life of Song: The Story of Ella Jenkins


Discover the untold story of Ella Jenkins, the First Lady of Children's Music. While many know her from Sesame Street and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, few realize that her groundbreaking career in children's music was rooted in the fight for equality.

A young girl in a segregated Chicago, Ella found her passion for music early on, believing in its potential to bring people together. This biography follows Ella’s trailblazing career from her early life influenced by jazz greats like Cab Calloway to her cross-country tours. Ella brought global sounds and stories to homes and classrooms everywhere and united people at a time of division. A Life of Song: The Story of Ella Jenkins tells the extraordinary story of a woman who has fearlessly crossed boundaries to share music and use it as a tool to fight racism. It's a story that asks readers of all ages, “will YOU sing a song together?”

For ages 6+ 
36 pages
ISBN: 9781737240433
Hardcover, 9” x 11”, full color illustrations


Meet the Author

Ty-Juana Taylor is an endless learner. Born and raised in the small town of Smiths Grove, Kentucky, Ty-Juana received her Masters Degree in Social Welfare and a PhD. in ethnomusicology from UCLA. While always hungry for knowledge, she thinks of herself as being more than just a scholar. Ty-Juana understands the value of community, the power of advocacy, and the importance of valuing the marginalized. She is a proponent of "Because of them, we can" and that echoes in all of her work. Ty-Juana believes it is essential that she uplifts the voices and stories of people of color and the marginalized in all that she does as an educator, advocate, and therapist.

Meet the Illustrator

Jade Johnson is a New Orleans based illustrator. After receiving her BFA in Illustration from the Savannah College of Art and Design, she taught visual arts in non-profit arts education programs until hanging up her apron in 2021. Her work has been recognized by Creative Quarterly, Applied Arts, and the Society of Illustrators.

Customer Reviews

Based on 2 reviews
Dr. Siyu Cai
Beyond the human experience

This is one of the best books I've ever read. There's not enough stars here.

Andrea W.
So Glad I Pre-Ordered this Fantastic Book!

A marvelous book infused with song about a truly remarkable woman, Ella Jenkins, known to some as the “First Lady of Children’s Music”. In this lovely debut from Taylor we hum together through Ella’s magnificent story from first finding her voice as a child, to using that sound as a powerful tool effecting change in the civil rights movement, all the way to her ultimate work of uniting children in song.

A warm glow of accessible illustrations feature a golden melody dancing throughout the whole book, inspiring the reader to sing back in response joining into a group song that continues globally today, in this Ella’s 100th year with us all.

While the artwork and singalong feel will be appreciated by children and caregivers of all ages, the straight forward discussion of Ella’s work using music to fight discrimination and the surrounding challenges, is a truly beautiful framework to share with elementary school children. If using in a bedtime routine, as we did, I recommend putting this book toward the front of your stack to provide ample wiggle room before lights out for all of those really important discussions that may come up.