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Folk Songs: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about folk songs?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to folk songs. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about folk songs.

Our list includes board books and picture books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

When it comes to children’s stories about folk songs, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves! to popular sellers like There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly to some of our favorite hidden gems like Hush Little Baby.

We hope this list of kids books about folk songs can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

Old MacDonald Had a Truck
Written by Steve Goetz & illustrated by Eda Kaban
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Old MacDonald had a farm E-I-E-I-O. And on that farm he had a…TRUCK?! With a DIG, DIG here and a SCOOP, SCOOP there, this board book edition of the wildly popular picture book introduces favorite machines—like the excavator, dump truck, bulldozer, and more—and will have the vehicle-obsessed of all ages reading and singing along.

Hush Little Baby
Written & illustrated by Sylvia Long
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

In this variation on the classic lullaby, a mother soothes her child to sleep with the promise of such things as a quilt, a banjo tune, and the sights and sounds of nature.

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
Written & illustrated by Simms Taback
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

An old favorite as you’ve never seen it before! Everyone knows the song about the old lady who swallowed a fly, a spider, a bird, and even worse, but who’s ever seen what’s going on inside the old lady’s stomach? With this inventive die-cut artwork, Simms Tabak gives us a rollicking, eye-popping version of the well-loved poem.

Old MacDonald Had a Farm in Oregon
Written by Forrest Everett & illustrated by Mary Sergeeva
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

Old MacDonald had a farm . . . in Oregon! In this delightful Oregon twist on the familiar farm tune, the sea lion goes bark bark here, the beaver goes chuck chuck there, and everywhere’s there’s lots of Oregon pride. This chunky layered board book cleverly reveals each Oregon animal and, when closed, forms an adorable pickup truck! Friendly Oregon animals and scenery fill the pages of this irresistible book for kids.

Hush, Little Alien
Written & illustrated by Daniel Kirk
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-18

Based on the bedtime favorite Hush, Little Baby, this adorable board-book edition takes a trip complete with goonie birds and shooting stars as an alien dad sings his little alien a good-night lullaby.

  • The Twelve Days of Christmas - With art so stunning it glistens like freshly fallen snow, this cozy Christmas tale is an essential treasure for anyone celebrating the holiday season! Bursting with gorgeous illustrations that accompany the lyrics to this classic carol, the festive artwork and jolly characters capture all the merriment of the popular Yuletide tune. Randall’s style feels charmingly classic while also strikingly contemporary, making this particular partidge in a pear tree the perfect one for the modern reader. The joyful pictures and beloved song are sure to make this a recurring holiday favorite.

  • Old Mikamba Had a Farm - This fabulous version of the classic nursery song “Old MacDonald” introduces children to a menagerie of African animals and their sounds. It is beautifully illustrated by Caldecott Honor winner Rachel Isadora, with her signature collage-style artwork. Old Mikamba had a farm, E-I-E-I-O. And on this farm he had . . . a giraffe, a baboon, and an elephant! Meet Old Mikamba, who watches over a wide variety of animals on his game farm in the plains of Africa. Children will discover a whole new set of fun animal sounds as they are invited to sing along and roar with the lions, bellow with the rhino, whinny with the zebras, honk with the wildebeests, and more! A wonderful introduction to African wildlife that is great fun to read aloud, this truly irresistible rendition of a beloved song includes a list of animal fun facts and gives children a huge variety of animal sounds to imitate as they pore over the detailed animals, landscapes and patterns in the stunning illustrations.

  • The Twelve days of Christmas - Jan Brett’s The Twelve Days of Christmas has long been a holiday favorite. Now this classic picture book has been redesigned for maximum legibility as a charming board book, perfect for sharing the wonder and magic of Christmas with Jan Brett’s youngest fans.

  • The Gifts They Gave - A gently illustrated adaptation of a beloved Christmas song depicts the baby Jesus in the manger surrounded by a flock of admiring animals who impart their own special gifts, from sheep who donate wool for a warm blanket to doves that coo a lullaby.

Old MacDonald Had a Boat
Written by Steve Goetz & illustrated by Eda Kaban
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Old Mac and Mrs. Mac are at it again! This time, these DIY-happy farmers wield a host of noisy tools—from hammers to sanders, and even a blowtorch—to soup up their rusty old fishing boat. With a BANG BANG here and a BUZZ BUZZ there, this silly, summery sequel to the wildly popular Old MacDonald Had a Truck is sure to make a splash—and have the whole family singing along.

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books!
Written by Lucille Colandro & illustrated by Brynne Barnes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

A twist on the classic tale of “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” takes the story even further as the lady goes about swallowing a variety of items related to school, including books, a ruler, and chalk.

The Twelve Days of Christmas
Written by & illustrated by Laurel Long
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

The astounding talent of Laurel Long brings this beloved song to life with breathtaking style. Set against a lush countryside, each day brings a new gift elegantly rendered. And like in the verses of the song, the previous gifts are repeated in every illustration, giving this striking artwork a hidden aspect, culminating in a staggering spread featuring them all. Readers will pore over every page, searching for golden rings, turtledoves, and all the rest, secretly tucked into each stunning painting.

Laurel Long’s unparalleled style makes this exquisite volume a treasure that will be cherished for years to come.

This Old Man
Written & illustrated by Claire Keay
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

Learn to count and add with this traditional rhyme. Bouncy illustrations, innovative die cutting and popular rhymes make Books with Holes a must for every child. This is a board book edition.

Knick-Knack Paddywhack
Written & illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Caldecott Medal winner Paul O. Zelinsky’s first moving-parts book since the best-selling Wheels on the Bus is a beauty. To the verses of “This Old Man,” an ingenious visual narrative follows a young boy as he ventures outside. Along the way, children can push tabs, turn wheels, or lift flaps to see ten different old men pop out of hiding to play Knick-Knack. Children (and critics) agree that Knick-Knack Paddywhack! takes the interactive book to a new level of imagination.

  • There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves! - A twist on the classic tale of “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” takes the story even further as the lady goes about swallowing up a variety of elements of autumn, including some leaves, a pumpkin, and some hay.

  • Hush, Little Baby - A perfect lullaby! This fresh new board book edition of Shari Halpern’s bright colorful quilt-like collages convey all the warmth and love at the heart of this bedtime classic.

  • There Was a Coyote Who Swallowed a Flea - There was a coyote who swallowed a flea, plucked from his knee, that tickly flea. Yippee-o-Ki-Yee! Skinny ol’ Coyote delights readers of all ages as he swallows his way through this delicious southwestern-flavored retelling of a well-loved rhyme. As Coyote gets bigger, the story gets zanier as a bird, a bull, and even an entire cactus end up as dinner. It’s pure fun for everyone―even that little flea.

  • There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Clover! - There was an Old Lady who swallowed things over and over, and now she’s come back to swallow a clover! She’s back! That lovely old lady has returned just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. Now she’s swallowing items to make the perfect rainbow to hide a pot of gold.

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Turkey!
Written by Lucille Colandro & illustrated by Jared D. Lee
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

The old lady is at it again, and this time she’s swallowing a Turkey . . . she’s always been quirky! You won’t believe why this old lady swallowed a turkey, a ball, a hat, a balloon, a boat, some wheels, and a horn of plenty! Read this book and find out why!

The Log Driver's Waltz
Written by Wade Hemsworth & illustrated by Jennifer Phelan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-99

Acclaimed illustrator Jennifer Phelan reimagines Wade Hemsworth’s iconic log driver in a beautiful, contemporary picture-book adaptation of a beloved Canadian classic. If you ask any girl from the parish around What pleases her most from her head to her toes She’ll say I’m not sure that it’s business of yours But I do like to waltz with a log driver Based on the perennially popular Canadian folk song and animated short film of the same name, The Log Driver’s Waltz showcases a spunky, independent young woman whose parents are keen for her to marry. The town’s well-to-do doctors, merchants, and lawyers try to impress her, but it’s the humble log driver—with his style, grace, and joie de vivre—who captures her attention. When she and the log driver finally meet on the dance floor, their joy leaps off the page. With homages to the original film, and celebrating the flora, fauna, and folk art of this great land, The Log Driver’s Waltz brings a hallmark of Canadian childhood to life.

Old Macdonald Had a Farm
Written by Jane Cabrera
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

A warm reimagining of the beloved folk song with a surprising new twist!

     Take children on a musical journey through Old MacDonald’s farm to learn the sounds of farm animals - and find out what surprises might be in store for Old MacDonald himself! Jane Cabrera accompanies this sing-along classic with high-spirited illustrations and a refreshing text that will have young readers and parents eagerly turning the pages.

     Jane Cabrera’s picture books have received worldwide attention and two Oppenheim Toy Portfolio awards. Her colorful twists on traditional nursery rhymes are a delight to both teachers and parents hoping to engage toddlers in the act of reading.

The Twelve Days of Christmas
Written & illustrated by Alison Jay
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . .

In this beautiful edition of the classic festive song, a happy couple make their way to a lavish Christmas party, discovering wonderful gifts as they go. Alison Jay’s signature crackle-glaze technique makes this illustrated version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” luminous and magical: animals dart across the pages, ladies dance, lords leap, and wintery landscapes sparkle against warm, cozy scenes.

With hidden surprises on every page, this is a book for the whole family to treasure—and sing along to!—year after year.

Drummer Hoff
Written by Barbara Emberley & illustrated by Ed Emberley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

A rhyming, vibrantly illustrated picture book based on the folk song of seven soldiers.

Ed Emberley won the 1968 Caldecott Medal for his bold illustrations for Barbara Emberley’s jaunty adaptation of the cumulative folk song about soldiers who build a magnificent cannon and Drummer Hoff, who fires it off.

  • Frog Went A-courtin' - “A favorite old nursery ballad now appears in resplendent new dress. . . . Illustrator Feodor Rojankovsky somehow manages to combine quaintness with sophistication and his doughty frog, the coy mouse . . . and others make charming company.”—The New York Times Book Review

  • Old Macdonald Had A... Zoo? - An extended retelling of the classic children’s song “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” by beloved author/illustrator Iza Trapani featuring zoo animals running amok on the farmstead. Iza Trapani is known for her clever twists on classic nursery rhymes. This time she outdoes herself with a vist to longtime favorite Old MacDonald. His busy little farm–with a moo, moo here and a moo, moo there is out of controwhen zoo animals like kangaroos, elephants, and hippos join the menagerie. What’s a farmer to do? Iza Trapani’s hilarious, jam-packed illustrations are full of details animal-loving readers will point at with glee. And the sweet ending will keep them giggling until the next reading.

  • Pete the Cat’s 12 Groovy Days of Christmas - A brand-new Pete the Cat Christmas picture book! Pete and his friends are rockin’ and groovin’ while counting down the days to Christmas! Who needs five golden rings, when you can have five onion rings? Join Pete and the gang for one-of-a-kind holiday cheer. He adds a cool-cat spin on a well-known Christmas carol, bringing a hip and energetic spirit to the season. This is a perfect Christmas gift for Pete the Cat fans who are eagerly awaiting Santa’s arrival.

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