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The Theater: Books For Kids

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

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

Our list includes picture books and chapter books. 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.

When it comes to children’s stories about the theater, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Smile to popular sellers like Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! to some of our favorite hidden gems like Chicken Lily.

We hope this list of kids books about the theater 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.

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Chicken Lily
Written by Lori Mortensen & illustrated by Nina Victor Crittenden
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Chicken Lily may be a lot of things—a careful colorer, a patient puzzler, and a quiet hide-and-seeker (she never made a peep!)—but brave has never been one of them. That’s why, when a school-wide poetry jam is announced in class, Lily is terrified. Will she sound like a bird brain?

Although Lily’s friends Baabette and Pigsley try to encourage her, Lily feels like a rotten egg. Finally, Lily realizes that she must put her best claw forward and prove that even chickens aren’t chicken all the time.

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Maisy Goes to a Show
Written & illustrated by Lucy Cousins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Are you ready for the big show? Maisy and her friends show little ones what it’s like to attend their first live performance. Today, Maisy and her friends are off to the theater to see a show starring Flora Fantastica! First they line up to show their tickets. After the usher helps them all find their seats, the lights go down, and Maisy and her friends take in a feast for the senses: dramatic flashing lights, colorful costumes, amazing songs, and lots of exciting characters. From the rise of the curtain through intermission (and snacks) to a standing ovation at the end, Maisy takes her fans on a trip to the theater that makes a new experience familiar and fun.

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Maisy Goes to the Movies: A Maisy First Experiences Book
Written & illustrated by Lucy Cousins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-7

Maisy and her pals discover the magic of the big screen as they go to a movie theater for the first time. Maisy and her friends are so excited! They’re going to see a fun adventure film. With tickets and snacks at the ready, they scramble for seats and settle in for the movie to begin. Cyril’s a little afraid of the dark, but Maisy is happy to hold his hand. When Eddie enthusiastically shouts at the screen, he quickly learns a lesson in movie etiquette! After little ones share this outing with Maisy, they’ll be raring to go on their own movie-theater adventure.

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Second Banana
Written by Blair Thornburgh & illustrated by Kate Berube
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A girl is disappointed with her “rotten” role in the school play—but the show must go on
 
The kids in Mrs. Millet’s class are putting on their annual nutrition pageant. Every kid plays a food. Every kid gets a line. It is a big deal. But this year, there aren’t quite enough parts for everybody. So the class is cast: Fish, Cheese, Broccoli, Blueberry, Banana, and . . . Second Banana. Second Banana feels rotten. She wants to be the ONLY banana!
In this deliciously original school story, Blair Thornburgh and Kate Berube recognize the dreadful disappointment that a casting list can cause—as well as the power of friendship, creative thinking, and a good attitude to turn a rotten situation into one that’s quite ap-peel-ing. Showtime!

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Replay
Written by Sharon Creech
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Leo’s papa stood in the doorway, gazing down at him. “Leo, you make gold from pebbles,” and the way he said it, Leo could tell that this was a good thing. He may have been given a bit part in the school play … but Leo dreams he is the biggest star on Broadway. Sure, his big, noisy family makes him feel like a sardine squashed in a tin … but in his fantasy he gets all the attention he wants. Yes, his papa seems sad and distracted … but Leo imagines him as a boy, tap-dancing and singing with delight. That’s why they call Leo “fog boy.” He’s always dreaming, always replaying things in his brain. He fantasizes about who he is in order to discover who he will become. As an actor in the school play, he is poised and ready for the curtain to open. But in the play that is his life, Leo is eager to discover what part will be his.

Pippa's Island 3: Kira Dreaming book
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Andy & Sandy and the Big Talent Show book
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Gracie Laroo on the Big Screen book
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Pete the Cat: The First Thanksgiving book
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  • Pippa's Island 3: Kira Dreaming - Kira Cove Public School is hosting a talent quest. Cici, Meg, and Charlie couldn’t be more ex- cited to perform, but Pippa gets butter ies at the thought of singing on stage. After a disastrous audition, can Pippa nd a way to smash her stage fright before the VIP concert?

  • Andy & Sandy and the Big Talent Show - Andy and Sandy hit the stage in this fourth book of an easy-to-read picture book series about friendship—from Caldecott and Newbery Honoree Tomie dePaola and Emmy Award–winning writer for the Muppets Jim Lewis. Outgoing Sandy convinces shy Andy to do a dance at the big talent show. The only problem? Andy doesn’t know how to dance! Luckily, Sandy is a good teacher. But when showtime finally arrives, it’s Sandy who freezes up! A true friend through and through, Andy overcomes his shyness to save the performance. Let’s give a standing ovation to friendship! Written in simple words and short, declarative sentences, this book is perfect for little ones just learning to read on their own.

  • Gracie Laroo on the Big Screen - Gracie the pig has a part in a movie with with Tilda Swinetune, the champion swim racer and movie star, but she is upset when she realizes she is just a stunt double—however a small change in the script makes her able to do that and also fulfill her dream with a part of her own.

  • Pete the Cat: The First Thanksgiving - Join Pete in New York Times bestselling artist James Dean’s Pete the Cat picture book series as Pete celebrates Thanksgiving in this groovy lift-the-flap book! Starring in the school Thanksgiving play would make even the coolest cat nervous. But when Pete the Cat gets onstage, he makes learning the story of the first Thanksgiving fun. With thirteen flaps that open to reveal hidden surprises, this book is sure to be a holiday favorite for every Pete the Cat fan.

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It's Showtime!: A Pepper and Frannie Story
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Frannie loves to have an audience. Pepper prefers to perform when no one is around. Pepper and Frannie are best friends, and they both love a good show.

When they decide to stage a performance themselves, Pepper is content to work behind the scenes as Frannie prepares an epic, extravagant spectacle: it will have lights, and action, and drama! She’s just forgetting one thing…to practice her song. When Frannie’s lack of preparation leaves her stuck in front of a crowd, can anything save her act? Luckily Pepper knows just how to help. The show must go on!

Utterly charming, energetic illustrations and simple, funny text highlight the power of celebrating each other’s strengths and working as a team in this return of the lovable pair.

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Miss Tracy Is Spacey!
Written by Dan Gutman & illustrated by Jim Paillot
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

With more than 11 million books sold, the My Weird School series really gets kids reading!

In this ninth book in the new My Weirdest School series, Miss Universe is coming to Ella Mentry School! Her real name is Miss Tracy, and she’s a retired scientist who will teach the students about planets and the solar system. But what happens when A.J. is cast as the planet Uranus in the school play?

Perfect for reluctant readers and word lovers alike, Dan Gutman’s hugely popular My Weird School chapter book series has something for everyone. Don’t miss the hilarious adventures of A.J. and the gang!

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The Incredible Adventures of Mary Jane Mosquito
Written by Tomson Highway & illustrated by Sue Todd
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

Timely, Fun, Challenging and Wise! Tomson Highway’s musical cabaret, The Incredible Adventures of Mary Jane Mosquito, couldn’t be more vividly presented unless you were sitting in the middle seat of the front row watching the Cree playwright, performer, musician and poet himself. The story of a wingless little mosquito from Manitoba has all the whimsy and wise humour any audience could ask for.

The ageless theme of a misfit, who finds her voice through song and who learns to make friends by communicating directly with her audience, is a timely treat for anyone who has felt like an outsider, dealt with bullying, moved to a new place, or was different from the rest of the pack.

The entire script is here, complete with song lyrics, stage directions, Cree vocabulary, and challenging tongue twisters to delight all ages. A perfect book for drama students, teachers, and theatre enthusiasts, this beautiful full-colour volume serves as an interactive read-aloud for the young, or a great way to introduce students to the joys of staging a musical production.

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Smile
Written & illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
picture book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Callie rides an emotional roller coaster while serving on the stage crew for a middle school production of Moon over Mississippi as various relationships start and end, and others never quite get going.

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Unicorn Theater
Written by Dana Simpson
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-12

New York Times Bestselling Author! The second Phoebe and Her Unicorn graphic novel! Summer is here, and Phoebe and Marigold are headed to drama camp. Phoebe’s expecting some quality time with her best friend, but in a surprise twist, Marigold has invited her sister, Florence Unfortunate Nostrils! While the unicorn sisters head to camp in a magical rainbow pod, Phoebe is stuck riding with her parents in their boring car, wondering where it all went wrong. But at Camp Thespis, there are more daunting tasks at hand: writing, producing, and acting in an entirely original play! The second Phoebe and Her Unicorn graphic novel is a sparkling tale of sisterhood and summer fun, as well as a reminder that sometimes it takes a bit of drama to recognize true friendship.

Assassin's Code book
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Bat Jamboree book
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The Piano Recital book
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Pest in Show book
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  • Assassin's Code - To read or not to read? With a pulse-pounding historical thriller series like The Shakespeare Plot there’s really only one answer! Journey back in time to danger-filled Elizabethan London. Alice Fletcher is a stagehand at the Globe theatre. When her brother, Richard, goes missing, Alice seeks him with the help of Tom Cavendish, servant to the power-hungry Earl of Essex. Packed with a heady Elizabethan atmosphere of political scheming, romance and murder. The swiftly paced, suspenseful plot will keep young readers on the edge of their seats while giving them an insight into the history of Shakespeare’s England.

  • Bat Jamboree - The Bat Jamboree was held early this year, at the old drive-in movie not too far from here. It was standing room only as the houselights went down. The spotlight came up — there wasn’t a sound! Then: DD1 bat sang.DD2 bats flapped. DD3 bats cha-cha-edDD4 bats tapped. Every year a troupe of 55 buoyant bats comes up with 10 fabulous acts to entertain and instruct an enthusiatic audience. And every year the bats top themselves when they perform the grandest finale of all . . . With its exuberant text and enchanting illustrations, Bat Jamboree is both a counting book and a thrilling theatrical event.

  • 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.

  • Pest in Show - Ladybug knows she was born to be a star. She can’t wait to sing and dance in her newest musical, which will be her best show ever. Ladybug won’t let anyone get in the way of her performance…especially her little brother, Fly. He’s a pest! But Fly is determined to be part of the act, no matter what. Is the show big enough for this sibling rivalry? This sing-along, read-aloud, funny tribute to the budding Broadway star in all of us is sure to be a smash hit, and shows that working together really does pay off.

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Papa Bear's Page Fright
Written by Wade Bradford & illustrated by Mary Ann Fraser
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This is the story of a little girl named Goldilocks. Well, that’s what it’s supposed to be, but there’s a problem. When Papa Bear discovers he’s inside of a book and there are readers out there looking at him, he gets very nervous and forgets his lines. Poor Papa Bear . . . he has Page Fright! Can Mama Bear, Baby Bear, and Goldilocks help him find the courage to remember his lines and finish the story?

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Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!
Written by Laura Amy Schlitz & illustrated by Robert Byrd
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

Step back to an English village in 1255, where life plays out in dramatic vignettes illuminating twenty-two unforgettable characters. Winner of the Newbery Medal.

Maidens, monks, and millers’ sons — in these pages, readers will meet them all. There’s Hugo, the lord’s nephew, forced to prove his manhood by hunting a wild boar; sharp-tongued Nelly, who supports her family by selling live eels; and the peasant’s daughter, Mogg, who gets a clever lesson in how to save a cow from a greedy landlord. There’s also mud-slinging Barbary (and her noble victim); Jack, the compassionate half-wit; Alice, the singing shepherdess; and many more. With a deep appreciation for the period and a grand affection for both characters and audience, Laura Amy Schlitz creates twenty-two riveting portraits and linguistic gems equally suited to silent reading or performance. Illustrated with pen-and-ink drawings by Robert Byrd — inspired by the Munich-Nuremberg manuscript, an illuminated poem from thirteenth-century Germany — this witty, historically accurate, and utterly human collection forms an exquisite bridge to the people and places of medieval England.

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Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace
Written & illustrated by Nan Marino
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

“When musical prodigy, Elvis Ruby, completely freezes up on television, he is forced to hide out in the Pinelands of New Jersey and try to find his way back to the music once again with the help of a new friend”—

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