My in-laws gave us a beautiful book and recording of Peter and the Wolf many years ago. My children listened to it dozens and times and we all came to love it! My father-in-law, a symphony conductor and composer, used to say that people don’t listen to classical music to get their “cultural vitamins,” they listen because they LOVE it.
If you’d like to instill a love of classical music in your children, Peter and the Wolf is a lovely place to begin.
The story is simple: Peter lives with his grandfather in the forest. One day Peter goes swimming in a nearby pond where he meets a bird and a duck. Each bird thinks the other is odd: “Why can’t you fly?” “Why can’t you swim?” Peter’s cat tries to catch both the bird and the duck, but because one can fly and the other can swim, they each escape the cat. Grandfather reprimands Peter for leaving the safety of the yard because of wolves in forest. Peter thinks grandfather is too cautious. But then a wolf suddenly appears! Can Peter, the cat, the bird, the duck, grandfather capture the wolf and save themselves from being eaten?
Each character is represented by a musical instrument in the piece: the flute is the bird, the oboe is the duck, three horns represent the wolf, the bassoon is grandfather and Peter is all the strings. Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev is a Russian fairytale set to beautiful classical music. It has been recorded dozens of times and is performed often by symphonies around the world. Below is a wonderful version by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra on YouTube.
Or this version from YouTube uses the illustrated book with the narration and symphony orchestra.
Early grade reading/listening level, 40 pages, Classical Music, Published in 1936.