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Musicians: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about musicians?

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

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter 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. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.

When it comes to children’s stories about musicians, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Charlie Parker Played Be Bop to popular sellers like Trombone Shorty to some of our favorite hidden gems like Because.

We hope this list of kids books about musicians 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.

Top 10 Books About Musicians

Trombone Shorty book
#1
Trombone Shorty
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A Grammy-nominated headliner for the New Orleans Jazz Fest describes his childhood in Tremâe and how he came to be a bandleader by age six.

Pokko and the Drum book
#2
Pokko and the Drum
Written & illustrated by Matthew Forsythe
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From E.B. White Read Aloud honor artist Matthew Forsythe comes a picture book about a magical drum, an emerald forest, and the little frog who dares to make her own music.

The biggest mistake Pokko’s parents ever made was giving her the drum. When Pokko takes the drum deep into the forest it is so quiet, so very quiet that Pokko decides to play. And before she knows it she is joined by a band of animals —first the raccoon, then the rabbit, then the wolf—and soon the entire forest is following her. Will Pokko hear her father’s voice when he calls her home?

Pokko and the Drum is a story about art, persistence, and a family of frogs living in a mushroom.

Because book
#3
Because
Written & illustrated by Mo Willems
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

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.

Ella Fitzgerald book
#4
Ella Fitzgerald
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara & illustrated by Bàrbara Alca
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Meet Ella Fitzgerald, one of the most influential jazz singers of all time! New in the Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the inspirational life of the First Lady of Song, from her early singing days on the streets of Harlem, to her success as a jazz legend, with the message: ‘It’s not where you come from, but where you’re going that counts.’ With stylish and quirky illustrations and a facts and photo section at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!

Hosea Plays On book
#5
Hosea Plays On
Written by Kathleen M. Blasi & illustrated by Shane W. Evans
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-9

This heartwarming picture book (based on a true story) depicts a day in the life of Hosea Taylor, a musician who—with his charm, talent, and generosity—brought joy to everyone he met.

Every day, Hosea takes the Number 42 bus into the city to play his shiny brass saxophone—and to hopefully earn enough money. Setting up in his favorite place, Hosea makes sweet music as people greet him with a smile, a little girl dances, and crowds surround him. A surprise ending reveals what the money is really for. Kathleen Blasi’s delightful text and Shane Evan’s colorful images capture the real-life closeness between the much-loved Hosea—who shared his passion for music and life with everyone—and his community.

An Author’s Note explains how Blasi learned about Hosea Taylor (1948-2016), and what compelled her to write his story.

Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears book
#6
Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears
Written by Beth Coulton and Corey Rosen Schwartz & illustrated by Nate Wragg
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A rockin’ twist on Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear know how to rock! But they need a new singer, so they audition everyone—the Three Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, and more. To their dismay, no one seems just right.

Could the perfect lead singer be the mysterious girl sleeping on Baby Bear’s keyboard?

This mash up of Goldilocks and the Three Bears and The Voice is a surefire storytime hit.

Music for Mister Moon book
#7
Music for Mister Moon
Written by Philip C. Stead & illustrated by Erin E. 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.

Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe book
#8
Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe
Written by Vivian Kirkfield & illustrated by Alleanna Harris
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe. On the outside, you couldn’t find two girls who looked more different. But on the inside, they were alike—full of hopes and dreams and plans of what might be.

Ella Fitzgerald’s velvety tones and shube-doobie-doos captivated audiences. Jazz greats like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington couldn’t wait to share the stage with her, but still, Ella could not book a performance at one of the biggest clubs in town—one she knew would give her career its biggest break yet.

Marilyn Monroe dazzled on the silver screen with her baby blue eyes and breathy boo-boo-be-doos. But when she asked for better scripts, a choice in who she worked with, and a higher salary, studio bosses refused.

Two women whose voices weren’t being heard. Two women chasing after their dreams and each helping the other to achieve them. This is the inspiring, true story of two incredibly talented women who came together to help each other shine like the stars that they are.

The History of Rock book
#9
The History of Rock
Written by Rita Nabais & illustrated by Joana Raimundo
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The History of Rock: For Big Fans and Little Punks is a magical mystery tour through popular music history, featuring trailblazing acts from the 1950s to the present. Colorful, stylish illustrations bring to life artists like Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Joan Jett, and Madonna, plus bands such as The Beatles, The Clash, Beastie Boys, and Pearl Jam, all of whom have inspired countless boys and girls to become musicians over the past seventy years. Included throughout the book are hand-picked recommendations from every time period, forming an extended playlist of over 1,000 songs that pay tribute to the genre and its many sounds. Divided into thirty-five different chapters, including “Pioneers Of Rock,” “Women At The Helm,” “Smash It,” and “Hard As Rock,” this vivid collection also covers the artistic movements that influenced rock or were influenced by it, such as blues, jazz, soul, and hip hop. What began as a successful Kickstarter campaign is now a must-have for rockers of all ages!

With a Little Help from My Friends book
#10
With a Little Help from My Friends
Written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon & illustrated by Henry Cole
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Celebrate friendship with this lyrical picture book that beautifully illustrates John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s world-renowned words from “With a Little Help from My Friends.”

I get by with a little help from my friends…

In this gorgeously illustrated picture book, the universally loved words to “With a Little Help from My Friends” come vividly to life, showing that sometimes, all you need is a little help from your friends!

Table of Contents
Scroll to books about Musicians and...

Books About Musicians and Social Themes

Pokko and the Drum
Written & illustrated by Matthew Forsythe
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From E.B. White Read Aloud honor artist Matthew Forsythe comes a picture book about a magical drum, an emerald forest, and the little frog who dares to make her own music.

The biggest mistake Pokko’s parents ever made was giving her the drum. When Pokko takes the drum deep into the forest it is so quiet, so very quiet that Pokko decides to play. And before she knows it she is joined by a band of animals —first the raccoon, then the rabbit, then the wolf—and soon the entire forest is following her. Will Pokko hear her father’s voice when he calls her home?

Pokko and the Drum is a story about art, persistence, and a family of frogs living in a mushroom.

Because
Written & illustrated by Mo Willems
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

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.

Hosea Plays On
Written by Kathleen M. Blasi & illustrated by Shane W. Evans
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-9

This heartwarming picture book (based on a true story) depicts a day in the life of Hosea Taylor, a musician who—with his charm, talent, and generosity—brought joy to everyone he met.

Every day, Hosea takes the Number 42 bus into the city to play his shiny brass saxophone—and to hopefully earn enough money. Setting up in his favorite place, Hosea makes sweet music as people greet him with a smile, a little girl dances, and crowds surround him. A surprise ending reveals what the money is really for. Kathleen Blasi’s delightful text and Shane Evan’s colorful images capture the real-life closeness between the much-loved Hosea—who shared his passion for music and life with everyone—and his community.

An Author’s Note explains how Blasi learned about Hosea Taylor (1948-2016), and what compelled her to write his story.

Honorable Mentions
  1. 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.

  2. Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe - Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe. On the outside, you couldn’t find two girls who looked more different. But on the inside, they were alike—full of hopes and dreams and plans of what might be. Ella Fitzgerald’s velvety tones and shube-doobie-doos captivated audiences. Jazz greats like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington couldn’t wait to share the stage with her, but still, Ella could not book a performance at one of the biggest clubs in town—one she knew would give her career its biggest break yet. Marilyn Monroe dazzled on the silver screen with her baby blue eyes and breathy boo-boo-be-doos. But when she asked for better scripts, a choice in who she worked with, and a higher salary, studio bosses refused. Two women whose voices weren’t being heard. Two women chasing after their dreams and each helping the other to achieve them. This is the inspiring, true story of two incredibly talented women who came together to help each other shine like the stars that they are.

  3. Beginners Welcome - The acclaimed author of Where the Watermelons Grow is back with a story perfect for fans of Lynda Mullaly Hunt and Ali Benjamin, about finding friendship after a tragic loss. It’s been eighty-three days since Annie Lee’s daddy died, but she still sees reminders of him everywhere. His record player mysteriously plays his favorite songs, there’s shaving cream in the sink every morning, and the TV keeps flipping to the Duke basketball games he loved. She knows Mama notices it too, but Mama’s been working around the clock to make ends meet. To make matters worse, Annie Lee’s friends ditched her over the summer. She feels completely alone—until she meets Mitch. Though Mitch is tough and confident on the outside, she may need a friend just as badly as Annie Lee. But after losing so much, Annie Lee is afraid to let anyone get too close. And Mitch isn’t the only friend trying to break through Annie Lee’s defenses. Ray, an elderly pianist who plays at a local mall, has been giving her piano lessons. His music is pure magic, and Annie Lee hopes it might be the key to healing her broken heart. But when Ray goes missing, searching for him means breaking a promise to Mitch. Faced with once again losing those who mean the most to her, Annie Lee must make a choice: retreat back into her shell, or risk admitting how much she needs Mitch and Ray—even if it means getting hurt all over again. Just like in her debut, Where the Watermelons Grow, Cindy Baldwin brings her signature twist of magic to this authentically heartfelt story.

  4. Forever Young - Since it first appeared on the 1974 album Planet Waves, “Forever Young” has been one of Bob Dylan’s most beloved songs. Now award-winning artist Paul Rogers gives us a new interpretation of the lyrics. With images inspired by classic Dylan songs and pieces of his life, this is a bold and touching tribute to an anthem whose message will always stay forever young.

Books About Musicians and Rock Musicians

Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears
Written by Beth Coulton and Corey Rosen Schwartz & illustrated by Nate Wragg
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A rockin’ twist on Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear know how to rock! But they need a new singer, so they audition everyone—the Three Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, and more. To their dismay, no one seems just right.

Could the perfect lead singer be the mysterious girl sleeping on Baby Bear’s keyboard?

This mash up of Goldilocks and the Three Bears and The Voice is a surefire storytime hit.

The History of Rock
Written by Rita Nabais & illustrated by Joana Raimundo
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The History of Rock: For Big Fans and Little Punks is a magical mystery tour through popular music history, featuring trailblazing acts from the 1950s to the present. Colorful, stylish illustrations bring to life artists like Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Joan Jett, and Madonna, plus bands such as The Beatles, The Clash, Beastie Boys, and Pearl Jam, all of whom have inspired countless boys and girls to become musicians over the past seventy years. Included throughout the book are hand-picked recommendations from every time period, forming an extended playlist of over 1,000 songs that pay tribute to the genre and its many sounds. Divided into thirty-five different chapters, including “Pioneers Of Rock,” “Women At The Helm,” “Smash It,” and “Hard As Rock,” this vivid collection also covers the artistic movements that influenced rock or were influenced by it, such as blues, jazz, soul, and hip hop. What began as a successful Kickstarter campaign is now a must-have for rockers of all ages!

With a Little Help from My Friends
Written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon & illustrated by Henry Cole
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Celebrate friendship with this lyrical picture book that beautifully illustrates John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s world-renowned words from “With a Little Help from My Friends.”

I get by with a little help from my friends…

In this gorgeously illustrated picture book, the universally loved words to “With a Little Help from My Friends” come vividly to life, showing that sometimes, all you need is a little help from your friends!

Honorable Mentions
  1. 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!

  2. Queen: The Unauthorized Biography -

  3. The Life of - La Vida De Ritchie - Born May 13, 1941, Ritchie Valens was a Mexican-American singer, songwriter, and guitarist. His musical journey at age 5 when his father encouraged him to take up guitar. In high school, he made his performing debut with the band The Silhouettes. At 17, Ritchie recorded his final record, which included classics like “Donna” and “La Bamba”. That record went on to sell over one million copies. To this day, Ritchie Valens’ music lives on in the hearts of many!

  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.

Books About Musicians and 20th Century

Ella Fitzgerald
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara & illustrated by Bàrbara Alca
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Meet Ella Fitzgerald, one of the most influential jazz singers of all time! New in the Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the inspirational life of the First Lady of Song, from her early singing days on the streets of Harlem, to her success as a jazz legend, with the message: ‘It’s not where you come from, but where you’re going that counts.’ With stylish and quirky illustrations and a facts and photo section at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!

When Paul Met Artie
Written by Greg Neri & illustrated by David Litchfield
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

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

Ella Fitzgerald: My First Ella Fitzgerald
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

This board book version of Ella Fitzgerald—an international bestseller in the beloved Little People, BIG DREAMS series—introduces the youngest dreamers to the First Lady of Song, from her early singing days on the streets of Harlem to her success as a jazz legend.

Ella Fitzgerald grew up near Harlem, in New York, where she was surrounded by music and dance. After winning first prize in a talent competition at the Apollo Theater, she went on to tour the world with her pioneering voice. Babies and toddlers will love to snuggle as you read to them the engaging story of this fascinating icon, and will also enjoy exploring the stylish and quirky illustrations of this sturdy board book on their own.

Little People, BIG DREAMS is a best-selling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream.

This empowering series offers inspiring messages to children of all ages, in a range of formats. The board books are told in simple sentences, perfect for reading aloud to babies and toddlers. The hardcover versions present expanded stories for beginning readers. Boxed gift sets allow you to collect a selection of the books by theme. Paper dolls, learning cards, matching games, and other fun learning tools provide even more ways to make the lives of these role models accessible to children.

Inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world with Little People, BIG DREAMS!

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Music in George's Head - 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.

  2. 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.

  3. The Way to Stay in Destiny - Moving in with his resentful Vietnam War veteran uncle, young Theo devotes his time to playing the piano and helping a new friend, baseball fanatic Anabel, investigate a local mystery about famous ballplayer residents. Simultaneous eBook.

Books About Musicians and Musical Instruments

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone
Written by Katheryn Russell-Brown & illustrated by Frank Morrison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

“A biography of African American musician Melba Doretta Liston, a virtuoso musician who played the trombone and composed and arranged music for many of the great jazz musicians of the twentieth century. Includes afterword, discography, and sources”—

Sing, Don't Cry
Written & 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.

Ben's Trumpet
Written & illustrated by Rachel Isadora
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The story of Ben is fiction, but it could be the story of more than one jazz musician who grew up in the twenties. Using the art-deco style of the period, Rachel Isadora not only captures the poignancy and yearning of a youthful talent, but in page after page of striking art seems to convey the very sound of music.

Honorable Mentions
  1. 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.

  2. Charlie Parker Played Be Bop - Introduces the famous saxophonist and his style of jazz known as bebop.

  3. 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? Join Filippa and friends in a whacky adventure when they wake up to find a piano in the front yard. Kids will love the bright and whimsical artwork in this book as they find out how the piano is returned to the band, new friends are found, and music is made.

  4. Play, Mozart, Play! - Introduces very young children to the child prodigy, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, in a tribute to the beauty of listening, looking, imagining, and, above all, playing.

Books About Musicians and History

Irving Berlin
Written by Nancy Churnin & illustrated by James Rey Sanchez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Irving Berlin came to the United States as a refugee from Tsarist Russia, escaping a pogrom that destroyed his village. Growing up on the streets of the lower East Side, the rhythms of jazz and blues inspired his own song-writing career. Starting with his first big hit, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Berlin created the soundtrack for American life with his catchy tunes and irresistible lyrics. With “God Bless America,” he sang his thanks to the country which had given him a home and a chance to express his creative vision.

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music
Written by Margarita Engle & illustrated by Rafael López
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Girls cannot be drummers. Long ago on an island filled with music, no one questioned that rule—until the drum dream girl. In her city of drumbeats, she dreamed of pounding tall congas and tapping small bongós. She had to keep quiet. She had to practice in secret. But when at last her dream-bright music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream. Inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba’s traditional taboo against female drummers, Drum Dream Girl tells an inspiring true story for dreamers everywhere.

Struttin' With Some Barbeque
Written by Patricia Hruby Powell & illustrated by Rachel Himes
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

This is the true story of Lil Hardin Armstrong: pianist, composer, and bandleader in the early days of jazz. Ahead of her time, Lil made a career for herself—and for Louis Armstrong, her modest, unassuming husband. Louis might never have become the groundbreaking jazz player he was, if it hadn’t been for Lil. Scat-inspired verse celebrates how Lil overcame race and gender barriers to become the first lady of the Chicago jazz scene.

Honorable Mentions
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Bird & Diz - When sax player Charlie “Bird” Parker and trumpeter John “Dizzy” Gillespie make music together, they toss notes back and forth like a game of tag and chase each other with sounds. As Dizzy’s cheeks puff out like a frog with glasses, the two friends beep and bop and push each other to create a new kind of music—a thrilling fast jazz full of surprises. Blending a playful, rhythmic narration with expressive illustrations as fluid and dynamic as their subjects, this tribute to the masters of bebop by acclaimed biographer Gary Golio and beloved artist Ed Young will have readers hankering to listen for themselves!

Want to see books about history?

Books About Musicians and Performing Arts

Violet's Music
Written by Angela Johnson & illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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

Band
Written & illustrated by Carles Porta
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Sometimes kids just need a good tickle. Maybe your child is grumpy, or frustrated, or looking for a little extra attention. Well, we have the cure. Reach for Tickle Time!—and like magic, everyone’s bright and sunny and giggling again. Based on the wildly popular song from Boynton’s wildly popular Rhinoceros Tap CD, Tickle Time! is pure irrepressible Boynton, lively in tempo, nimble in rhyme, and filled with irresistible fuzzy cats that cavort from page to page. Plus a few birds, who aren’t the cavorting type. Here’s a book to turn to again and again, because it’s guaranteed to elicit giggles: If you’re feeling blue and you don’t know what to do there is nothing like a TICKLE TIME to make you feel like new. Whether you tickle high or tickle low, tickle fast or tickle slow, it’s the gitchy-gitchy-goo that makes everything worthwhile.

The 5 O'Clock Band
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In this companion to the Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Award-winning Trombone Shorty, join a scrappy young musician named Shorty on a tour of his beloved New Orleans. After letting his band down by missing rehearsal, Shorty has some serious questions about what it means to be a leader. He hits the streets of New Orleans to find some answers and soak up inspiration. Along the way he’ll meet street musicians, a favorite restaurant owner, and the famous Mardi Gras Indians. Each has some NOLA-bred wisdom to share with Shorty about being an artist, a leader, and a friend. In The 5 O’Clock Band, Troy Andrews has crafted another unforgettable love letter to New Orleans illustrated by the incomparable Bryan Collier.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Piano Recital - It’s the day of Momo’s first piano recital. As she nervously waits for her turn to play, she tells herself, “I’ll be okay … I’ll be okay …” Then she hears a voice nearby, also saying, “I’ll be okay … I’ll be okay …” It’s a mouseling! And the little mouse is nervous about her first performance, too. The mouseling invites Momo through a small door backstage, where Momo is amazed to find a miniature theater filled with an audience of finely dressed mice there to watch singers, dancers and circus performers! When it’s the mouseling’s turn, Momo agrees to accompany her on piano. The mouse audience is so appreciative! But then, as she rises to take her bow, Momo is surprised to discover - it isn’t a mouse audience at all! Here’s another magical, dreamlike picture book from Akiko Miyakoshi, the multi-award-winning and internationally bestselling author-illustrator. The imaginative narrative is woven around the common childhood experience of anxiety, felt by performers but also by every child who faces a new life challenge. Momo serves as a wonderful example to children, using the power of her imagination to understand and work through her feelings. Even the youngest readers will be able to follow this story through the beautiful and fantastically detailed illustrations, which perfectly capture Momo’s emotions as she transitions from the real to the imagined and back again.

  2. Mysterious Thelonious - Matches the tones of the diatonic scale to the values of the color wheel in presenting a portrait of the work of the Afro-American jazz musician and composer of “Mysterioso”

  3. Happy Birthday to You! - A group of musicians is traveling to a caf� for a surprise celebration. Press the buttons to hear them play their instruments . . . and join in with the whole band at the end to wish one little otter a very happy birthday! With a flute, guitar, violin, and piano, plus a rousing “big band” chorus and a splendid light-up birthday cake, this delightful little book makes the perfect birthday gift.

  4. Double Bass Blues - A joyous celebration of family, community, and the unifying power of music, perfect for fans of Last Stop on Market Street. Nic is an aspiring musician whose life spans two different worlds—his suburban school where he wows his friends in orchestra, and the busy city streets of his home where he’s jostled by the crowd. Nic makes his way home from a busy day at school with a double bass on his back, the symphony of his surroundings in his heart, and a sweet surprise for the reader at the end of his journey. This is a sweet, melodious picture book about how dedication, music, and family can overcome any obstacle.

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