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Music inspires, motivates, and moves us. It dares us to think big and to pursue our dreams. It can even tell the stories in our hearts when words aren’t enough.
Here are 15 children’s books about music and the way music can affect our lives. I hope you enjoy sharing these books with the young people in your life.
Music Is… by Brandon Stousy
This little board book introduces children to the ways that music can affect our senses. What does music look like or sound like? Music can be fast or slow. It can be hard or quiet. It can be electric or acoustic. It can even be ba-da-ba-bass and rat-a-tat-drums! Children from various races and cultural groups are represented. Ages 0 to 3.
Never Play Music Next to the Zoo by John Lithgow
A boy and his family attend an outdoor orchestra concert that happens to be next to a zoo. When the little boy falls asleep in is seat, he gets startled awake and discovers that animals from zoo have broken free from their cages so they could play all of the orchestra instruments. Oh my! Children from various races and cultural groups are represented. Ages 2 to 6.
A child plays outside and reflects on the many, many beautiful things around him. This book is an illustrated version of the famous song What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong. Ages 2 to 6.
One Love by Cedella Marley
A young girl, her friends, her family, and her community join together to clean their neighborhood park. This book is an illustrated version of the famous song One Love by Bob Marley. Children from various races and cultural groups are represented. Ages 3 to 5.
Hey Little Rockabye: A Lullaby for Pet Adoption by Buffy Sainte-Marie
A little girl goes to the animal shelter with her family and finds a puppy she wants to adopt. She sings ‘Hey, hey, little rockabye… you’ve got someone who loves you…’ to comfort him. This book is an illustrated version of the children’s song Hey Little Rockabye by Buffy Sainte-Marie. Ages 3 to 7.
88 Instruments by Chris Barton
A little boy goes to the music store with his family to find an instrument for him to play. There are so many amazing instruments in the store… he feels a bit overwhelmed. Does he want to get the squeeziest instrument? The wheeziest? The easiest? Or the breeziest? Too many choices! Ages 3 to 7.
Gentle Hands and Other Sing-Along Songs for Social-Emotional Learning by Amadee Ricketts
This brightly illustrated children’s book contains 12 children’s melodies about important social-emotions skills children need to know. Songs include Gentle Hands (to the tune of Frere Jacques), A-N-G-E-R (to the tune of B-I-N-G-O), It’s Okay to Ask for Help (to the tune of I’m a Little Teapot), and I Have Feelings (to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star). End pages include resources for parents. Ages 3 to 8.
Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle
A little girl living on the ‘island of music’ and in ‘the city of drumbeats’ loves listening to people play the drums. She loves listening to the conga drums, bongos, and timbales. She dreams of learning how to play the drums, but in her culture, only boys are allowed to play them. What is she going to do? A multicultural story inspired by the life of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, who was Cuba’s first female drummer. Ages 4 to 7.
Chicks Rock! by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
Rocker Chick loves to sing and play her guitar but is too shy to sing and play in front of other people. When she is asked to perform at a show in the barn, Rocker Chick has to find her inner courage. Thankfully, Rocker Chick has her friends to support her and cheer her on! Ages 4 to 8.
Just a Little Music by Mercer Mayer
After going to a parade with his family, Little Critter decides he wants to learn how to play an instrument. He and his dad go into a music store and buy a drum set. Little Critter is excited about his new drums and can’t wait to learn how to play them. Maybe someday he will be a drummer for a rock band! Ages 4 to 8.
Singing in the Rain by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown
It’s spring time and a group of children have gone outside to sing and play in the rain. The children are happy and their hearts are filled with music and love! This book is an illustrated version of the song Singing in the Rain from the Broadway Musical. Ages 4 to 8.
Bear Loves Music by Pang Shuo
Bear loves playing the flute and dancing to the music. She especially loves sharing her music with her friends. But, not all of her friends like the way her flute sounds. What is Bear going to do? Ages 4 to 10.
I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello by Barbara S. Garriel
Do you remember the story about the old lady who swallowed a fly? Well… this story is about a shy fellow who swallows musical instruments, not animals! He swallows a cello, a harp, a fiddle, a saxophone, and a teeny bell, just to name a few. What do you think will happen to him? This is a parody of The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly song by Alan Mills. Ages 5 to 7.
When the Beat Was Born: DJ Cool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill
When Clyde was a young boy in Jamaica, he loved listening to the dance music his next door neighbor played whenever he had a party at his house. Then, when Clyde moved to the Bronx and got a stereo with 6-foot tall speakers, he created his own unique style of playing music with two turntables. This style of music eventually became known as hip-hop. A multicultural story inspired by the life of DJ Cool Herc, the creator of hip-hop music. Ages 6 to 10.
When We Love Someone We Sing to Them: Cuando Amamos Cantamos by Ernesto Javier Martinez
When We Love Someone We Sing to Them is a sweet story about a boy who wants to write a special song for the boy he loves and asks his father to help him write it. After a quiet moment of reflection, his father agrees to help him. A multicultural story inspired by the Mexican tradition of serenata written in both English and Spanish. Ages 7 to 10.