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Music: Picture Books For Kids

Music is often mentioned as something that helps all areas of a child's development from emotional, social, intellectual, motor skills, and language to literacy in general. Wow, if one thing can make such a difference we should probably spend a little more time learning about it. This list of books should give you a great start to learn about music with your little ones!

Top 10 Books About Music

Les & Ronnie Step Out book
#1
Les & Ronnie Step Out
Written and illustrated by Andrew Kolb
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Meet a left and right foot who are a pair of complete opposites! Full of clever, giggle-inducing details, this lively odd-couple tale celebrates what makes us all unique, as well as the power of friendship to bring us together despite our differences. Feet come in twos, so they need to step out together. But Les and Ronnie often find it hard to cooperate. Les likes having a clean sock and being responsible. Ronnie is fine with a dirty sock and loves letting loose. Les is straight-laced while Ronnie doesn’t even care about laces. What’s a duo to do?

Giant Dance Party book
#2
Giant Dance Party
Written by Betsy Bird and illustrated by Brandon Dorman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Betsy Bird knows all there is to know about kids and books. She is the New York Public Library’s youth collections specialist, she writes a blog hosted by School Library Journal, and has served on the Newbery Medal committee. Now Betsy Bird has written a children’s book of her own, Giant Dance Party. In this rollicking picture book, a group of giants shows up at Lexy’s door wanting dance lessons. After some initial hesitation, Lexy is happy to teach them, and her dance classes end with all her students—as well as Lexy herself—overcoming their fears and putting on a boogying performance. Brandon Dorman, an award-winning artist whose work can be found in The Wizard, and on the covers of Fablehaven and Goosebumps, brings the giants and their dance moves to life with his full-color illustrations.

Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin book
#3
Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin
Written by Lloyd Moss and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This book does a wonderful job introducing little ones to musical vocabulary, and there's also great rhyming and alliteration. This book counts to ten in numbers and in the names for different sizes of musical groups, such as a quartet. The colorful illustrations and text display many different instruments, and little one's will learn to say "encore!" when they want more. :)

When this book begins, the trombone is playing all by itself. But soon a trumpet makes a duet, a french horn a trio, and so on until the entire orchestra is assembled on stage. Written in elegant and rhythmic verse and illustrated with playful and flowing artwork, this unique counting book is the perfect introduction to musical groups. Readers of all ages are sure to shout "Encore!" when they reach the final page of this joyous celebration of classical music.

Elvis Presley's Love Me Tender book
#4
Elvis Presley's Love Me Tender
Written by Elvis Presley and illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

The king of rock-and-roll’s #1 hit song “Love Me Tender” is now an endearing picture book Adapted from the unforgettable classic song, Elvis Presley’s Love MeTender is a heartwarming ode to the special bond between children and the adults who love and care for them–be they parents, grandparents, adoptive parents, aunts, uncles, or guardians. With its simple, timeless message, Elvis Presley’s Love Me Tender is destined to join Guess How Much I Love You as a baby shower staple. And the sweet, inclusive illustrations make it a book every family will treasure “all through the years, ’till the end of time.”

Music for Mister Moon book
#5
Music for Mister Moon
Written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin Stead
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

After shy cello player Harriet Henry accidentally knocks the moon out of the sky, the moon becomes her friend, and Harriet gains the courage to share her music.

Guitar Genius book
#6
Guitar Genius
Written by Kim Tomsic and illustrated by Brett Helquist
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

This is the story of how Les Paul created the world's first solid- body electric guitar, countless other inventions that changed modern music, and one truly epic career in rock and roll. How to make a microphone? A broomstick, a cinderblock, a telephone, a radio. How to make an electric guitar? A record player's arm, a speaker, some tape. How to make a legendary inventor? A few tools, a lot of curiosity, and an endless faith in what is possible. Featuring richly detailed, dynamic illustrations by Brett Helquist, this unforgettable biography will resonate with inventive readers young and old.

Shark in the Dark book
#7
Shark in the Dark
Written by Peter Bently and illustrated by Ben Cort
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

The shark has been lurking in the deep, dark sea, searching for a fishy snack. He's big and he's mean and he's always hungry. Tired of fleeing the shark, the other seas creatures come up with a plan. If they all work together it might be possible to teach the shark a lesson he'll never forget. With a lively rhyming text; bright, expressive illustrations; and a playful die-cut cover, this is one shark's tale that will be a hit either at story hour . . . or feeding time.

I Got the Rhythm book
#8
I Got the Rhythm
Written by Connie Scholfield-Morrison and illustrated by Frank Morrison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

On a simple trip to the park, the joy of music overtakes a mother and daughter. The little girl hears a rhythm coming from the world around her- from butterflies, to street performers, to ice cream sellers everything is musical! She sniffs, snaps, and shakes her way into the heart of the beat, finally busting out in an impromptu dance, which all the kids join in on! Award-winning illustrator Frank Morrison and Connie Schofield-Morrison, capture the beat of the street, to create a rollicking read that will get any kid in the mood to boogie.

The Piano book
#9
The Piano
Written by Juha Virta and illustrated by Marika Maijala
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

What do you do when a piano shows up in your yard? Take a cat-nap? Use it as a coffee table? What's a band to do when one of its instruments goes missing? And what does a yellow sock have to do with anything?

Music Is for Everyone book
#10
Music Is for Everyone
Written by Jill Barber and illustrated by Sydney Smith
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Music is for Everyone is sure to get you excited about making music! Singer-songwriter Jill Barber takes her young readers through many different kinds of music—hip-hop, jazz, classical, folk—and instruments in an energetic, rhyming tour. Sydney Smith’s gleeful illustrations capture all the joy that comes from making music in all its forms!

Table of Contents
Jump to books about Music and...

Books About Music and Musical-instruments

Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin book
#1
Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin
Written by Lloyd Moss and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This book does a wonderful job introducing little ones to musical vocabulary, and there's also great rhyming and alliteration. This book counts to ten in numbers and in the names for different sizes of musical groups, such as a quartet. The colorful illustrations and text display many different instruments, and little one's will learn to say "encore!" when they want more. :)

When this book begins, the trombone is playing all by itself. But soon a trumpet makes a duet, a french horn a trio, and so on until the entire orchestra is assembled on stage. Written in elegant and rhythmic verse and illustrated with playful and flowing artwork, this unique counting book is the perfect introduction to musical groups. Readers of all ages are sure to shout "Encore!" when they reach the final page of this joyous celebration of classical music.

Music Is for Everyone book
#2
Music Is for Everyone
Written by Jill Barber and illustrated by Sydney Smith
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Music is for Everyone is sure to get you excited about making music! Singer-songwriter Jill Barber takes her young readers through many different kinds of music—hip-hop, jazz, classical, folk—and instruments in an energetic, rhyming tour. Sydney Smith’s gleeful illustrations capture all the joy that comes from making music in all its forms!

Charlie Parker Played Be Bop book
#3
Charlie Parker Played Be Bop
Written and illustrated by Chris Raschka
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Introduces the famous saxophonist and his style of jazz known as bebop.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Ada's Violin - A town built on a landfill. A community in need of hope. A girl with a dream. A man with a vision. An ingenious idea.

  2. The Piano - What do you do when a piano shows up in your yard? Take a cat-nap? Use it as a coffee table? What's a band to do when one of its instruments goes missing? And what does a yellow sock have to do with anything?

  3. Bats in the Band - When the weather warms up, bats take advantage of an empty theater to stage a concert.

  4. This Jazz Man - In this toe-tapping jazz tribute, the traditional "This Old Man" gets a swinging makeover, and some of the era's best musicians take center stage. The tuneful text and vibrant illustrations bop, slide, and shimmy across the page as Satchmo plays one, Bojangles plays two . . . right on down the line to Charles Mingus, who plays nine, plucking strings that sound "divine." Easy on the ear and the eye, this playful introduction to nine jazz giants will teach children to count—and will give them every reason to get up and dance! Includes a brief biography of each musician.

Want to see 8 more children's books about music and musical-instruments?

How about children's books about musical-instruments?

Books About Music and Dance

Giant Dance Party book
#1
Giant Dance Party
Written by Betsy Bird and illustrated by Brandon Dorman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Betsy Bird knows all there is to know about kids and books. She is the New York Public Library’s youth collections specialist, she writes a blog hosted by School Library Journal, and has served on the Newbery Medal committee. Now Betsy Bird has written a children’s book of her own, Giant Dance Party. In this rollicking picture book, a group of giants shows up at Lexy’s door wanting dance lessons. After some initial hesitation, Lexy is happy to teach them, and her dance classes end with all her students—as well as Lexy herself—overcoming their fears and putting on a boogying performance. Brandon Dorman, an award-winning artist whose work can be found in The Wizard, and on the covers of Fablehaven and Goosebumps, brings the giants and their dance moves to life with his full-color illustrations.

Monster Boogie book
#2
Monster Boogie
Written by Laurie Berkner and illustrated by Ben Clanton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Laurie Berkner, “the queen of children’s music” (People), pairs the lyrics of her infectious hit song with Ben Clanton’s whimsical illustrations in this groovy and adorable picture book—a must-have for fans of Laurie, dancing, and all things monstrous! I’m the biggest monster that you’ve ever seen! My eyes are purple and my teeth are green. I’m big and I’m scary, you know what I mean? And this is what I like to do... Boogie away those bedtime fears and embrace your inner monster with Monster Boogie, based on Laurie Berkner’s irresistibly fun song and featuring lively, playful artwork by Ben Clanton! I do the monster boogie. So can you! Rraaaahhh!

Feel the Beat book
#3
Feel the Beat
Written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Kristi Valiant
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

An irresistible book of poems about dancing that mimic the rhythms of social dances from cha-cha to two-step, by the acclaimed author of Mirror Mirror Marilyn Singer has crafted a vibrant collection of poems celebrating all forms of social dance from samba and salsa to tango and hip-hop. The rhythm of each poem mimics the beat of the dances’ steps. Together with Kristi Valiant’s dynamic illustrations, the poems create a window to all the ways dance enters our lives and exists throughout many cultures. This ingenious collection will inspire readers to get up and move! Included with the book is an audio CD of the author reading each poem accompanied by original music from composer Jonathon Roberts.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Log Driver's Waltz - 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.

  2. Little Leonardo's Fascinating World of the Arts - "Little Leonardo's Fascinating World of the Arts is a great way to encourage kids' interests in all manner of artistic pursuits that they might aspire to. This volume introduces children to the many different types of creative fields in the arts including drawing and painting, music and dance, writing, design, architecture, and photography."--Publisher's description.

Want to see more children's books about dance?

Books About Music and Biography

Guitar Genius book
#1
Guitar Genius
Written by Kim Tomsic and illustrated by Brett Helquist
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

This is the story of how Les Paul created the world's first solid- body electric guitar, countless other inventions that changed modern music, and one truly epic career in rock and roll. How to make a microphone? A broomstick, a cinderblock, a telephone, a radio. How to make an electric guitar? A record player's arm, a speaker, some tape. How to make a legendary inventor? A few tools, a lot of curiosity, and an endless faith in what is possible. Featuring richly detailed, dynamic illustrations by Brett Helquist, this unforgettable biography will resonate with inventive readers young and old.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart book
#2
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Written by Isabel Muñoz and illustrated by Jane Kent
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

Meet composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and learn about his life and music in this engagingly illustrated biography. Wolfgang Amadeus rose to fame as a child genius who wrote his first piece at the age of five, spent a lifetime making music for archbishops and emperors, and created countless compositions until his untimely death at only 35 years old. This engaging biography explores his amazing career, from when Mozart began his musical studies under his father's tutelage; through his time as a court composer, musician, and concertmaster; to his final work in honor of the coronation of Leopold II as King of Bohemia. Along the way, we find out about Mozart's travels and the great composers he met, his difficulties with his rich benefactors, his financial struggles, his marriage and family, and his final illness. Appealing illustrations, information on his breakthroughs and successes, and an index of major events reveal how Mozart left his mark on humanity. A timeline and simple quiz help kids test their understanding and knowledge.

The Music in George's Head book
#3
The Music in George's Head
Written by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Stacy Innerst
picture book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

George Gershwin heard music all the time—at home, at school, even on New York City's busy streets. Classical, ragtime, blues, and jazz—George's head was filled with a whole lot of razzmatazz! With rhythmic swirls of words and pictures, author Suzanne Slade and illustrator Stacy Innerst beautifully reveal just how brilliantly Gershwin combined various kinds of music to create his masterpiece, Rhapsody in Blue, a surprising and whirlwind composition of notes, sounds, and one long wail of a clarinet. Includes author's note, timeline, and bibliography.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Antonio's Music - Antonio loved to create music, and everyone loved to listen to it. But then, Antonio's music was forgotten for many years. Was Antonio's music gone forever?

  2. When Paul Met Artie - Long before they became one of the most beloved and successful duos of all time, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were just two kids growing up in Queens, New York—best friends who met in a sixthgrade production of Alice in Wonderland and bonded over girls, baseball, and rock ’n’ roll. As teens, they practiced singing into a tape recorder, building harmonies that blended their now-famous voices until they sounded just right. They wrote songs together, pursued big-time music producers, and dreamed of becoming stars, never imagining how far their music would take them. Against a backdrop of street-corner doowop gangs, the electrifying beginnings of rock ’n’ roll, and the rise of the counterculture folk music scene, G. Neri and David Litchfield chronicle the path that led two young boys from Queens to teenage stardom and back to obscurity, before finding their own true voices and captivating the world with their talent. Back matter includes an afterword, a discography, a bibliography, and a fascinating list of song influences

  3. Strange Fruit - The audience was completely silent the first time Billie Holiday performed a song called ""Strange Fruit."" In the 1930s, Billie was known as a performer of jazz and blues music, but this song wasn't either of those things. It was a song about injustice, and it would change her life forever. Discover how two outsiders--Billie Holiday, a young black woman raised in poverty, and Abel Meeropol, the son of Jewish immigrants--combined their talents to create a song that challenged racism and paved the way for the Civil Rights movement.""The audience was completely silent the first time Billie Holiday performed a song called ""Strange Fruit."" In the 1930s, Billie was known as a performer of jazz and blues music, but this song wasn't either of those things. It was a song about injustice, and it would change her life forever. Discover how two outsiders--Billie Holiday, a young black woman raised in poverty, and Abel Meeropol, the son of Jewish immigrants--combined their talents to create a song that challenged racism and paved the way for the Civil Rights movement.

  4. When Bob Met Woody - "Hey hey, Woody Guthrie, I wrote you a song..." When Bob finished, Woody's face lit up like the sun. Bob Dylan is a musical icon, an American legend, and, quite simply, a poet. But before he became Bob Dylan, he was Bob Zimmerman, a kid from rural Minnesota. This lyrical and gorgeously illustrated picture book biography follows Bob as he renames himself after his favorite poet, Dylan Thomas, and leaves his Michigan mining town to pursue his love of music in New York City. There, he meets his folk music hero and future mentor, Woody Guthrie, changing his life forever.

Want to see more children's books about biography?

Books About Music and Family

Elvis Presley's Love Me Tender book
#1
Elvis Presley's Love Me Tender
Written by Elvis Presley and illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

The king of rock-and-roll’s #1 hit song “Love Me Tender” is now an endearing picture book Adapted from the unforgettable classic song, Elvis Presley’s Love MeTender is a heartwarming ode to the special bond between children and the adults who love and care for them–be they parents, grandparents, adoptive parents, aunts, uncles, or guardians. With its simple, timeless message, Elvis Presley’s Love Me Tender is destined to join Guess How Much I Love You as a baby shower staple. And the sweet, inclusive illustrations make it a book every family will treasure “all through the years, ’till the end of time.”

Sing, Don't Cry book
#2
Sing, Don't Cry
Written and illustrated by Angela Dominguez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Once a year, Abuelo comes from Mexico to visit his family. He brings his guitar, his music—and his memories. In this story inspired by the life of Apolinar Navarrete Diaz—author Angela Dominguez’s grandfather and a successful mariachi musician—Abuelo and his grandchildren sing through the bad times and the good. Lifting their voices and their spirits, they realize that true happiness comes from singing together.

Carlos Santana book
#3
Carlos Santana
Written by Gary Golio and illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

Discover the childhood story of Carlos Santana in Gary Golio's ""Sound of the Heart, Song of the World"", featuring illustrations by Rudy Gutierrez, the internationally celebrated artist who created the iconic Santana ""Shaman"" CD cover. Carlos Santana grew up surrounded by music. His father, a beloved mariachi performer, teaches his son how to play the violin when he is only six years old. But when Carlos discovers American blues, he is captivated by the raw honesty of the music. Unable to think of anything else, he loses all interest in the violin. When Carlos finally receives his first guitar, his whole life begins to change. From his early exposure to mariachi to his successful fusing of rock, blues, jazz, and Latin influences, here is the childhood story of a legendary musician.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Lorraine - The songs they sang always lifted their spirits--on good days or bad it was joyful to hear it.And even when storms hit those Tennessee hills,the music they played made their worries stand still.Grammy Award-winning, founding member of Old Crow Medicine Show, Ketch Secor, and award-winning illustrator Higgins Bond bring an Americana fable to life in this bold, sweeping story. Pa Paw and Lorraine spend their days celebrating life with the music of the Tennessee hills. But when a fearsome storm rolls through, the two must rely on the power of music to get them through.

  2. A Tuba Christmas - With a family that loves music as much as hers does, it was only a matter of time before it was Ava's turn to pick out an instrument. Her mother plays the piano, her father plays the violin, and one brother plays the cello while the other plays the clarinet. As soon as Ava selects an instrument, she will be able to join them as they practice for the annual holiday concert. And her family has definite ideas on what instrument Ava should select, from the piano to the flute to the violin. But Ava isn't interested in any of them. Ava wants to play the tuba. And she gets her wish. But playing the tuba isn't as easy as it seems. And there is no place for a tuba in the annual concert. But with the encouragement of her music teacher, Ava finds a place for her and her tuba in a special holiday celebration.

Want to see more children's books about family?

Books About Music and Animals

Today Is Monday book
#1
Today Is Monday
Written and illustrated by Eric Carle
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Learn the days of the week with bestselling author/illustrator Eric Carle through song! String beans, spaghetti, ZOOOOP, roast beef, fresh fish, chicken and ice cream are the delicious fare during the week in this popular children’s song. Until Sunday. Then, all the world’s children are invited to come together and share in the meal. Celebrated artist Eric Carle brings new energy to these much-loved verses as lively animals parade across the page, munching on favorite dishes, and introducing young readers to the names of the days of the week. Both art and song invite children to join in the procession and sing along.

Rabbityness book
#2
Rabbityness
Written and illustrated by Jo Empson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Tells the story of a rabbit whose love of music and art inspires other rabbits even after he disappears.

A is for Alliguitar: Musical Alphabeasts book
#3
A is for Alliguitar: Musical Alphabeasts
Written by Nancy Raines Day and illustrated by Herb Leonard
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A wacky safari that is sure to strike a chord with kids! For each letter of the alphabet, this clever book of rhymes presents a cross between an animal and a musical instrument. From newtubas and mandolions to drumonkeys and pigolos, kids will have a blast during this musical safari. Zany illustrations accompany each creation.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Kitty Alone - Kitty Alone is the latest in a series of captivating picture books, each based on a beloved songtale from the great American folk music heritage. This beautifully illustrated version sets the song in the Appalachian Mountains and uses a bobcat, called a "woods ghost" by locals, as the title character. Like the other titles in the First Steps in Music series, Kitty Alone includes song history and notation, along with a free download link for the song, sung by Jill Trinka.

  2. Michael Hague's Treasury of Christmas Carols - Collects four Christmas carols filled with animals celebrating Noel, from a dandified bunny dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh to bears, rabbits, and chipmunks awaiting their hot bowls of figgy pudding.

  3. Jingle-Jingle - When Mr. Horse invites all the barnyard animals into his sleigh, Cat, Dog, Pig, and Duck are soon holding on tight, dashing through the snow, and flying over fields, until they reach the hill! By the creator of Clip-Clop.

  4. The Bass Plays the Bass and Other Homographs - Playing a variety of musical instruments, animals on a concert tour introduce words that are spelled the same but sound different and have different meanings, such as tear (to cry) and tear (to rip).

Want to see more children's books about animals?

Books About Music and History

Lift Every Voice and Sing book
#1
Lift Every Voice and Sing
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

First written by a schoolteacher and activist in 1900 and then declared the official African American National Anthem by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1919, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” has been a cornerstone hymn chronicling the black experience for more than one hundred years. Lyrics to this moving history are paired with the linocuts of Elizabeth Catlett, a Harlem Renaissance artist best known for her unique representations of the struggles and triumphs of black men, women, and children. Newly back in print and updated with a fresh design as well as an introduction from beloved author and illustrator Ashley Bryan, Lift Every Voice and Sing is a more relevant than ever celebration of black lives.

Elvis Is King! book
#2
Elvis Is King!
Written by Jonah Winter and illustrated by Red Nose Studio
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Here's the perfect book for anyone who wants to introduce rock 'n' roll and its king to the child in their lives. In single- page "chapters" with titles like "The First Cheeseburger Ever Eaten by Elvis" and "Shazam! A Blond Boy Turns into a Black-Haired Teenager," readers can follow key moments in Presley's life, from his birth on the wrong side of the railroad tracks in the Deep South, to playing his first guitar in grade school, to being so nervous during a performance as a teenager that he starts shaking . . . and changes the world! Jonah Winter and Red Nose Studio have created a tour-de-force that captures a boy's loneliness and longing, along with the energy and excitement, passion, and raw talent that was Elvis Presley.

Jazz Day book
#3
Jazz Day
Written by Roxane Orgill and illustrated by Francis Vallejo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

What happens when you invite as many jazz musicians as you can to pose for a photo in 1950s Harlem? Playful verse and glorious artwork capture an iconic moment for American jazz. When Esquire magazine planned an issue to salute the American jazz scene in 1958, graphic designer Art Kane pitched a crazy idea: how about gathering a group of beloved jazz musicians and photographing them? He didn't own a good camera, didn't know if any musicians would show up, and insisted on setting up the shoot in front of a Harlem brownstone. Could he pull it off? In a captivating collection of poems, Roxane Orgill steps into the frame of Harlem 1958, bringing to life the musicians' mischief and quirks, their memorable style, and the vivacious atmosphere of a Harlem block full of kids on a hot summer's day. Francis Vallejo's vibrant, detailed, and wonderfully expressive paintings do loving justice to the larger-than-life quality of jazz musicians of the era. Includes bios of several of the fifty-seven musicians, an author's note, sources, a bibliography, and a foldout of Art Kane's famous photograph.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Hello, I'm Johnny Cash - There’s never been anyone like music legend Johnny Cash. His deep voice is instantly recognizable, and his heartfelt songs resonate with listeners of all ages and backgrounds. G. Neri captures Johnny’s story in beautiful free verse, portraying an ordinary boy with an extraordinary talent who grew up in extreme poverty, faced incredible challenges, and ultimately found his calling by always being true to the gift of his voice. A. G. Ford’s luscious paintings of the dramatic southern landscape of Johnny Cash’s childhood illuminate this portrait of a legend, taking us from his humble beginnings to his enormous success on the world stage.

  2. Duke Ellington's Nutcracker Suite - It's a challenge to transform the "Nutcracker Suite's" romantic orchestra into jumpin' jazz melodies, but that's exactly what Duke Ellington and his collaborator, Billy Strayhorn, did. Ellington's band memebers were not so sure that a classical ballet could become a cool-cat jazz number. But Duke and Billy, inspired by their travels and by musical styles past and present, infused the composition with Vegas glitz, Hollywood glamour, and even a little New York jazz. CD recording of the Ellington/Strayhorn composition included.

Want to see more children's books about history?

Books About Music and Christmas

The Sound Orchestra: The Nutcracker book
#1
The Sound Orchestra: The Nutcracker
Written and illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Follow Clara on a magical Christmas adventure in this retelling of the classic ballet story. Watch the Nutcracker battle the Mouse King, meet the Sugar Plum Fairy and journey to the Land of Sweets, where wonder and excitement await... Including music from: 'The Dance of the Reed Flutes', 'The Waltz of Flowers' and 'The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy'.

The Gifts They Gave book
#2
The Gifts They Gave
Written and illustrated by Patricia Eubank
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

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.

The Twelve Days of Christmas in Tennessee book
#3
The Twelve Days of Christmas in Tennessee
Written by Alice Faye Duncan and illustrated by Mary Uhles
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The Volunteer state is GREAT! When Carly visits her cousin Teddy in Tennessee for Christmas, she discovers how amazing it is. She hikes the Great Smoky Mountains, dances to bluegrass music, tastes Nashville’s famous hot chicken, and meets more than one Elvis Presley. Every day, Teddy gives her a special Tennessee gift, from 12 rockers rocking and 11 eagles nesting to a mockingbird in a tulip poplar tree.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Great Joy - It is just before Christmas when an organ grinder and monkey appear on the street outside Frances’s apartment. When it’s quiet she can hear their music, and when she looks out her window at midnight, she sees them sleeping outside. Finally the day of the Christmas pageant arrives, but when it’s Frances’s turn to speak, all she can think about is the organ grinder’s sad eyes—until a door opens just in time, and she finds the perfect words to share. With this luminous tale, Kate DiCamillo pairs with Bagram Ibatoulline to offer a timeless holiday gift.

  2. Drummer Boy - In a wintry little town, a drummer boy appears on a child’s doorstep. And when it is still and quiet, the drummer boy plays, boom pum pum boom pum, and warms the child’s heart. But one day the drummer boy is accidentally knocked into the trash, sending him on a journey he never imagined–a journey on which he continues to play his drum, warming the hearts of others, from a rat to an owl to a snowman. And in a touching conclusion, his own heart is warmed as he plays to his most perfect audience: the baby in a manger. Loren Long brings this story of an unforgettable little drummer boy to vivid life with his timeless and magical art.

  3. Mr. Noisy and the Silent Night - In this Christmas-themed Mr. Men book, Mr. Quiet might get the peaceful Christmas he’s always wanted! Poor Mr. Quiet doesn’t look forward to Christmas—it’s too noisy for him! Noisy decorations, noisy carol singers, a noisy postman delivering Christmas cards, and, noisiest of all, an annual visit from Mr. Noisy himself! But this Christmas, a snowstorm might give Mr. Quiet the silence he so desperately craves.

  4. Silent Night - A warm and wonderful story of the creation of the timeless hymn, Silent Night, and its creator Joseph Mohr. Silent Night celebrates the 200th anniversary of the beloved hymn, and shares the story behind the creation of one of the world's most recognizable tunes.

Want to see more children's books about Christmas?

Epilogue

24 books that are just too good to leave off of our music list.

  1. Les & Ronnie Step Out - Meet a left and right foot who are a pair of complete opposites! Full of clever, giggle-inducing details, this lively odd-couple tale celebrates what makes us all unique, as well as the power of friendship to bring us together despite our differences. Feet come in twos, so they need to step out together. But Les and Ronnie often find it hard to cooperate. Les likes having a clean sock and being responsible. Ronnie is fine with a dirty sock and loves letting loose. Les is straight-laced while Ronnie doesn’t even care about laces. What’s a duo to do?

  2. Music for Mister Moon - After shy cello player Harriet Henry accidentally knocks the moon out of the sky, the moon becomes her friend, and Harriet gains the courage to share her music.

  3. Shark in the Dark - The shark has been lurking in the deep, dark sea, searching for a fishy snack. He's big and he's mean and he's always hungry. Tired of fleeing the shark, the other seas creatures come up with a plan. If they all work together it might be possible to teach the shark a lesson he'll never forget. With a lively rhyming text; bright, expressive illustrations; and a playful die-cut cover, this is one shark's tale that will be a hit either at story hour . . . or feeding time.

  4. I Got the Rhythm - On a simple trip to the park, the joy of music overtakes a mother and daughter. The little girl hears a rhythm coming from the world around her- from butterflies, to street performers, to ice cream sellers everything is musical! She sniffs, snaps, and shakes her way into the heart of the beat, finally busting out in an impromptu dance, which all the kids join in on! Award-winning illustrator Frank Morrison and Connie Schofield-Morrison, capture the beat of the street, to create a rollicking read that will get any kid in the mood to boogie.

  1. Violet's Music - From the days she banged her rattle in the crib, Violet has been looking for friends to share her love of music.

  2. Bach to the Rescue!!! - Every famous piece of art has an origin story--even Bach's Goldberg Variations! When the richest dude in town can't sleep, he hires a much-less-rich dude named Johann Gottlieb Goldberg to play him lullabies on the harpsichord. Goldberg does an OK job, but as the Rich Dude hollers for Goldberg each night, he wakes up the whole town in the process. As the town gets sleepier and sleepier and grumpier and grumpier, Goldberg worries he may be out of a job soon. But then, the one and only Bach enters the scene with a series of lullabies composed specifically for the Rich Dude. And, thus, the Goldberg Variations are born! This zany, nontraditional nonfiction picture book comes from the inimitable Tom Angleberger, author of the bestselling Origami Yoda series.

  3. Because - Mo Willems, a number one New York Times best-selling author and illustrator, composes a powerful symphony of chance, discovery, persistence, and magic in this moving tale of a young girl's journey to center stage. Illustrator Amber Ren brings Willems' music to life, conducting a stunning picture book debut.

  4. Rockabet - Are you ready to rock A to Z? Let's roll through some music history! ROCKABET: CLASSIC EDITION introduces classic artists of rock 'n' roll in catchy couplets. This fun book promotes the arts, literacy, and learning the ABC's. Cute illustrations depict musicians in a childlike manner. Reading rocks!

  1. In the Hall of the Mountain King - Based on the 1867 play Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen, set to Edvard Grieg's musical masterpiece, author and music teacher Allison Flannery captures the wonder and imagination of childhood while also providing an age-appropriate, entertaining introduction to music theory and appreciation. Children, educators, and parents will be delighted by Vesper Stamper's beautiful watercolors that bring Flannery's retelling to life. Come sing, dance and explore with Peer to Greig's music on the included CD.

  2. Can You Hear It? - Presents an introduction to music and musical instruments, through the matching of excerpts of classical music with art works selected from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

  3. The Walkabout Orchestra - The orchestra have an important concert to play… but all the musicians have gone walkabout! Can you help the Maestro and his faithful assistant to track them down using clues from their postcards? Take a trip from Reykjavik to Rio, through Greek islands, Venetian canals and Egyptian pyramids in this search-and-find tour of the world and learn all the instruments of the orchestra as you work your way through this spotting extravaganza.

  4. Battle of the Pirate Bands - Pirates from across the seven seas are gathering for the greatest of pirate competitions. But when the prize trophy is stolen, the Monkey Pirates are framed as the thieves. Can the crew clear their nearly-fearless names? A glossary, discussion questions, and writing prompts round out this exciting adventure story.

  1. Mole Music - Feeling that something is missing in his simple life, Mole acquires a violin and learns to make beautiful, joyful music.

  2. Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf - Despite Grandfather's warning about wolves in the forest, Peter and his animal friends capture one.

  3. Five Little Speckled Frogs - "Five Little Speckled Frogs, sitting on a hollow log, eating some most delicious bugs. Yum, yum!" This picture book beautifully illustrates the familiar children's song through watercolor, collage and graphic design. Children and adults can easily read or sing the repetitive text while they count down from five. Watch for patterns by keeping an eye on the frogs and those "most delicious bugs."

  4. Ten Little Fingers - An illustrated board book with words and music to a song celebrating all the things a child can make ten fingers do, including shutting them up tight and opening them wide.

  1. I Ate a Cicada Today - Based on a song of outrageous rhymes, I Ate a Cicada Today is a humorous children's picture book illustrated in ink and watercolor drawings. Each two-page spread features a verse of the song, including such fanciful scenarios as "I peppered a leopard" and "I hid a giant squid." The accompanying CD is a guitar vocal performance of the song by author/illustrator Jeff Crossan, who interjects each verse with a short, spoken aside for added comic punch.

  2. Mr. Mergler, Beethoven, and Me - Not long after arriving in North America from China, a young girl and her father bump into a kind old man at their local park. They have no idea that he has been teaching young people music for over fifty years. Mr. Mergler can hear music in a way that most of us can’t, and he knows this little girl has a talent that, with encouragement, will grow into something magical. He gives her a gift that will tie them together forever

  3. Ella Queen of Jazz - Ella Fitzgerald sang the blues and she sang them good. Ella and her fellas were on the way up! It seemed like nothing could stop her, until the biggest club in town refused to let her play… and all because of her colour. But when all hope seemed lost, little did Ella imagine that a Hollywood star would step in to help. The inspiring, true story of how a remarkable friendship between Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe was born – and how they worked together to overcome prejudice and adversity.

  4. City Street Beat - In City Street Beat, a young girl travels along a city's twisty road on her way to a friend’s house. Together, they embark on an adventure, taking in all the city’s sights and sounds. They hear the tippy, tappy clack of high heels on the sidewalk; the strumming and drumming of a three-piece band; the flipping and flapping of dancing pigeons; and more. The girls move and groove to the rock-n-roll and razz-ma-tazz of the city’s hip-hop beat using all five senses until at last it’s time to say good-bye.

  1. The Croc Who Rocked - All alone, in a quiet part of the jungle, Little Croc hatches. He may be small, but he has a big voice and loves to sing. But the other animals don't like his snap-snap song and send him away. As time passes, he becomes a big croc, and his song gets better and louder, but he is lonely. He asks some birds to teach him their song, hoping the other animals might accept him. All goes well until he gets carried away, snap-snaps in the middle of the song, and is sent away. As he sings sadly to himself by the river, his song attracts an unexpected crowd of admirers, who finally join in on the music.

  2. The Concert in the Park - A little boy plays his harmonica, alone under the trees. Soon he discovers a lonely rabbit playing his piano, and he joins in. One by one other forest animals gather, some to play their instruments, some to listen. A little bird has no instrument, but her song completes the effort, turning solitary musicians into a glorious orchestra.

  3. The Phlunk's Worldwide Symphony - From South America to Asia to Africa, the sound of Earth's children playing musical instruments rises to create a symphony like no other. With their singing, dancing, playing and stamping the Phlunk doesn't stand a chance, he simply has to dance! 'The Phlunk's Worldwide Symphony' features a reassuring, gently rhythmic poem by singer-songwriter Lou Rhodes and is fully illustrated in a unique, organic style by Tori Elliott.

  4. She'll Be Coming 'round the Mountain - She'll be coming round the mountain, when she comes. Toot, Toot! How will she arrive next? Featuring a range of vehicles, activities and sounds, this catchy song is a delightful way to learn new words. Bouncy illustrations, innovative die cutting and popular rhymes make Books with Holes a must for every child.

Did you enjoy our music book recommendations? Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!

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