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Theater And Musicals: Books For Kids

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

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

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 theater and musicals, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Amazing Grace to popular sellers like The Nutcracker: The Original Holiday Classic to some of our favorite hidden gems like Wombat Divine.

We hope this list of kids books about theater and musicals 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.

Wombat Divine
Written by Mem Fox & illustrated by Kerry Argent
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Wombat loves everything about Christmas—especially the Nativity play. He’s wanted to be in it for as long as he can remember. At last he’s old enough to try out. But at the auditions, the first part goes to someone else. So does the next. And the next . . . Will there be a part left for Wombat?

Amazing Grace
Written by Mary Hoffman & illustrated by Caroline Binch
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Although a classmate says that she cannot play Peter Pan in the school play because she is black, Grace discovers that she can do anything she sets her mind to do.

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.

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!

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.

  • Fast Break - In the sixth book in the New York Times bestselling middle grade series inspired by the life of iconic New York Yankee Derek Jeter, young Derek bites off more than he can chew when he decides to enter the school talent show and try out for the basketball team. Between promising Vijay that he’ll compete in the school talent show and promising Dave that he’ll try out for the basketball team, Derek Jeter has a lot he’s trying to juggle. A commitment is a commitment, and Derek is determined to work hard and try his best, but he worries he might be in over his head and fears he’s going to let his friends or himself down. How can Derek do it all? Inspired by Derek Jeter’s childhood, Fast Break is the sixth book in Jeter Publishing’s New York Times bestselling middle grade baseball series that focuses on key life lessons from Derek Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation.

  • William Shakespeare's the Tempest - Discover the Bard’s dazzling play about magic, revenge, and forgiveness, reimagined by Shakespeare’s Globe as a gorgeously illustrated picture book for children. I told him that if I were a mortal, I would forgive them. Ariel is a spirit of the air who can fly, ride on clouds, and glow bright as fire. When his master, the magician Prospero, is overthrown by his brother as the Duke of Milan, Ariel joins Prospero and his baby daughter on a journey that will bring them to a beautiful island ruled by the monstrous Caliban — and to a series of events that lead to a vengeful storm, confounding spells, true romance, and a master who is persuaded to give his transgressors a second chance. Narrated from Ariel’s perspective, the story is told in language that is true to the original play but accessible to all. With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Jane Ray, this captivating retelling is a magical way to introduce children to one of the best-loved works of the world’s greatest playwright.

  • The Fix-It Friends: The Show Must Go On - In the third adventure in Nicole C. Kear’s sweet chapter book series, it’s up to the Fix-It Friends to help the star of the school play prepare for opening night. Because reading isn’t always as easy as ABC. It’s a dream come true! Veronica’s playing the Queen of Hearts in the school play. It’s perfect: She gets to be a star and scream her head off! Even better, she makes an amazing new friend. Liv, who’s playing Alice, is a natural—it seems there’s nothing she can’t do! That is, until she reveals to Veronica that reading is really hard for her. To learn her lines, she’s going to need a lot of help. That’s the cue for the Fix-It Friends! With Jude working on sets, Cora on costumes, Ezra on stage lights, and Veronica by her side on stage, Liv is surrounded by just the right crew to help her get ready for opening night. After all, the show must go on! Told in Veronica’s charismatic, enthusiastic, and funny voice, The Show Must Go On is the third book in The Fix-It Friends series, which makes childhood issues accessible for chapter book readers. Includes a toolbox of expert advice on how to approach reading challenges! Don’t miss the other Fix-It Friends adventures: The Fix-It Friends: Have No Fear! The Fix-It Friends: Sticks and Stones The Fix-It Friends: Wish You Were Here The Fix-It Friends: Eyes on the Prize The Fix-It Friends: Three’s a Crowd An Imprint Book Praise for The Fix-It Friends: Have No Fear!: “Fears are scary! But don’t worry: the Fix-It Friends are here with step-by-step help —and humor too.”—Fran Manushkin, author of the Katie Woo series “Full of heart and more than a little spunk” —Kathleen Lane, author of The Best Worst Thing An empowering resource for kids — and they’re just plain fun to read.” —Lauren Knickerbocker, Ph.D., Co-Director, Early Childhood Service, NYU Child Study Center “Hooray for these young friends who work together; this diverse crew will have readers looking forward to more.” —Kirkus Reviews “The humor is spot-on, and the stories pull kids in, teaching without preaching, encouraging children to be active problem-solvers in their own lives.” —Dr. Dawn Huebner, Ph. D., child psychologist and creator of the What-to-Do Guides for Kids series

  • Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire - Gilbert is nervous about portraying George Washington in front of the class, and he feels even worse when he leaves his main prop at home and allows another student to take the blame.

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.

Star-Crossed
Written & illustrated by Barbara Dee
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

Twelve-year-old Mattie wrestles with her crush on Gemma as they participate in their school production of Romeo and Juliet in what School Library Journal calls “a fine choice for middle school libraries in need of an accessible LGBTQ stories.” Twelve-year-old Mattie is thrilled when she learns the eighth grade play will be Romeo and Juliet. In particular, she can’t wait to share the stage with Gemma Braithwaite, who has been cast as Juliet. Gemma is brilliant, pretty—and British!—and Mattie starts to see her as more than just a friend. But Mattie has also had an on/off crush on her classmate Elijah since, well, forever. Is it possible to have a crush on both boys AND girls? If that wasn’t enough to deal with, things offstage are beginning to resemble their own Shakespearean drama: the cast is fighting, and the boy playing Romeo may not be up to the challenge of the role. And due to a last-minute emergency, Mattie is asked to step up and take over the leading role—opposite Gemma’s Juliet—just as Mattie’s secret crush starts to become not-so-secret in her group of friends. In this funny, sweet, and clever look at the complicated nature of middle school romance, Mattie learns how to become a lead player in her own life.

Jack and Louisa Act 3
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A show-stopping middle-grade series about life in and out of the spotlight from Broadway stars and Internet sensations Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Wetherhead. Two weeks at Camp Curtain-Up is just what Jack and Louisa need to fuel their passion for theater: Broadway musical sing-alongs, outdoor rehearsals, and tons of new MTNs (musical theater nerds) to meet… maybe even a special someone. It almost feels like fate when the two friends return home to find local auditions for The Sound of Music. But as Louisa fantasizes about frolicking in the Alps, Jack gets tempted by a student-run drama competition that would reunite the two with their camp friends. Will Jack get Louisa to skip an audition? Can Lou handle Jack as her director? And will someone finally get a big, Broadway happy ending?

Jack & Louisa Act 1
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A show-stopping series about life in the spotlight from Broadway actors and internet sensations Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Wetherheada. Twelve-year-old Jack Goodrich was a Broadway star-until a sudden voice change cost him his dream role. Now he lives with his parents in Shaker Heights, Ohio trying hard to leave his acting past behind. But his new neighbor, Louisa-a self-proclaimed musical theater nerdo-won’t stop until Jack auditions for a local production of Into the Woods. Fans ofTim Federle’s Nate Foster bookswill rejoice to meet the newest MTN’s (musical theater nerds) on the block- Jack & Lou.

Jack & Louisa Act 2
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Cast opposite each other when their middle school stages a production of Guys and Dolls, Jack and Lou find their ambitions of stardom threatened by a mysterious new director, a Broadway-level dance call and a new stage competitor.

  • Eliza Bing Is (Not) a Star - How will Eliza make it through the sixth grade? Her ADHD tends to complicate things. . . . Eliza Bing stuck with taekwondo and earned her yellow belt even though her family expected her to quit. She’s tough enough to break boards with her bare hands! Next up: middle school, and hopefully a best friend. The school play turns out to be the perfect opportunity to befriend confident, stage-obsessed Annie. But can their friendship survive the spotlight? The joys and sorrows of middle school come to life in this funny and heartfelt sequel to Eliza Bing Is (NOT) a Big, Fat Quitter, recipient of the Christopher Award and four child-voted state award nominations.

  • Star of the Show - Katie is sad when she is cast as an earthworm in her school play, because that means she cannot be the star.

  • The Nutcracker: The Original Holiday Classic - Publishing just in time for the forthcoming 2018 film adaptation, this edition of The Nutcracker is sure to enchant readers young and old. On Christmas Eve, seven-year-old Marie and her eight-year-old brother Fritz anxiously await their Christmas gifts. When their godfather—a clock builder and toymaker—arrives, he unveils an ornate clockwork castle adorned with whirling figurines for the children. While Fritz plays with the clock, Marie is taken aside and given another gift—a nutcracker. After Fritz grabs the nutcracker from Marie and breaks its jaw by cracking too many nuts, their playtime ends and they head off to bed. When the clock strikes twelve, magic makes its way into this enduring tale and an epic battle ensues. This timeless classic, featuring all-new full-color and black-and-white illustrations by artist Arkady Roytman and abridged text by Gina Gold, is the perfect story to get anyone in the holiday spirit!

  • Unicorn Theater - 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.

Smile: How Young Charlie Chaplin Taught the World to Laugh (and Cry)
Written by Gary Golio & illustrated by Ed Young
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-9

An award-winning author and a Caldecott Medalist take a creative look at the early life of comedic genius Charlie Chaplin.

Once there was a little slip of a boy who roamed the streets of London, hungry for life (and maybe a bit of bread). His dad long gone and his actress mother ailing, five-year-old Charlie found himself onstage one day taking his mum’s place, singing and drawing laughs amid a shower of coins. There were times in the poorhouse and times spent sitting in the window at home with Mum, making up funny stories about passersby. And when Charlie described a wobbly old man he saw in baggy clothes, with turned-out feet and a crooked cane, his mother found it sad, but Charlie knew that funny and sad go hand in hand. With a lyrical text and exquisite collage imagery, Gary Golio and Ed Young interpret Charlie Chaplin’s path from his childhood through his beginnings in silent film and the creation of his iconic Little Tramp. Keen-eyed readers will notice a silhouette of the Little Tramp throughout the book that becomes animated with a flip of the pages. An Afterword fills in facts about the beloved performer who became one of the most famous entertainers of all time.

Stage Fright on a Summer Night
Written by Mary Pope Osborne & illustrated by Sal Murdocca
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

The show must go on! That’s what Jack and Annie learn when the Magic Tree House whisks them back to Elizabethan England. There they meet William Shakespeare himself—one of the greatest writers of all time! But Mr. Shakespeare’s having a hard time with some of the actors in his latest show. Are Jack and Annie ready to make a big entrance? Or will it be curtains for Shakespeare?

Stink: Hamlet and Cheese
Written by Megan McDonald & illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

It’s spring break, and Stink is faced with a difficult choice: hang out at home with his sister, Judy, or become a Shakespeare Sprite with his friend Sophie of the Elves. Hanged be! When Sophie tells Stink that there will be swordplay and cursing at Shakespeare camp, his choice is made. But wait! How now? The eager young thespian hadn’t counted on Riley Rottenberger being a Sprite, too. And he positively had not counted on being the only boy! Fie upon’t!

Better Nate Than Ever
Written by Tim Federle
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-13

An eighth-grader who dreams of performing in a Broadway musical devises a plan to run away to New York and audition for the role of Elliot in the musical version of E.T.

Banana Pants!
Written & illustrated by Emma Wunsch
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

Princess Miranda and Not-a-Princess Maude are total opposites and totally best friends! Fed up with nonstop testing, Miranda and Maude’s teacher makes a surprise announcement: They are going to put on a school play! And, the class decides, it will be called Banana Pants! School is finally a joy, and the project inspires the girls to fight for more positive change. Maude decides to wage a campaign against Styrofoam lunch trays, and she thinks she has the perfect powerful ally in Miranda. But, much to Maude’s frustration, Miranda would rather focus on her own good cause: love! The girls can’t seem to see eye to eye, and in pursuing their good causes separately, they go way too far, resulting in the friendship’s first-ever fight.

  • The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth - The Stratford Zoo looks like a normal zoo… until the gates shut at night. That’s when the animals come out of their cages to stage elaborate performances of Shakespeare’s greatest works. They might not be the most accomplished thespians, but they’ve got what counts: heart. Also fangs, feathers, scales, and tails, in The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth.

  • Corduroy Takes A Bow - When Lisa takes Corduroy to the theater for the very first time, it’s so magnificent and exciting that he just can’t help heading out on his own to explore. From the orchestra pit to the prop table to the dressing rooms, Corduroy sees it all. Could there be a place for Corduroy on stage, too?

  • Dara Palmer's Major Drama - “Dara’s larger-than-life personality and true-to-life middle grade issues command center stage until the curtain falls.” —School Library Journal, Starred Review Dara Palmer is destined to be a star, and she’s writing herself the role of a lifetime. Dara longs for stardom—but when she isn’t cast in her middle school’s production of The Sound of Music, she get suspicious. It can’t be because she’s not the best. She was born to be a famous movie star. It must because she’s adopted from Cambodia and doesn’t look like a typical fraulein. (That’s German for girl.) So irrepressible Dara comes up with a genius plan to shake up the school: write a play about her own life. Then she’ll have to be the star. Praise for Dream On, Amber: A Booklist 2015 Top 10 First Novels for Youth A Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2015 “[This] novel is a charmer…While its humor and illustrations lend it Wimpy Kid appeal, its emotional depth makes it stand out from the pack.”—Booklist Starred review “A gutsy girl in a laugh-out-loud book that navigates tough issues with finesse.” —Kirkus Starred review “Amber’s effervescent and opinionated narration captivates from the start.” —Publishers Weekly Starred review “By turns playful and poignant, in both style and substance, this coming-of-age novel will hook readers from the first page to the last.” —School Library Journal Starred review

  • Short - In this heartwarming and funny novel by the beloved author of “Counting by 7s, Julia grows into her sense of self while playing a Munchkin in a summer stock theater production of “The Wizard of Oz”.

Tara Takes the Stage
Written & illustrated by Tamsin Lane
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

There are many ways this story can go. YOU decide what happens next. And if you don’t like how it ends? Just start again! The Yes No Maybe So series is an interactive reading experience about friendships, family, and all the feelings. Every day before and after school, Tara Singh helps her parents at their Indian sweet shop, but the only business Tara is interested in is show business. When a local theater announces a casting call for The Wizard of Oz, Tara is determined to wear the ruby slippers. As she prepares for the audition, Tara is distracted by some unexpected drama: There is Rohan, the delivery boy her parents hired. Hiro, her forever crush, who wants to rehearse with her. And Desmond, a shy theater nerd who has started lighting up her heart. Can Tara win the part and get the guy? You have the power to choose what happens…and the chance to choose differently next time!

Pest in Show
Written & illustrated by Victoria Jamieson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

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.

Bah! Humbug!
Written by Michael Rosen & illustrated by Tony Ross
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A timely retelling of A Christmas Carol for the whole family about a smartphone-obsessed dad.

This Christmas, join Michael Rosen and Tony Ross with their unforgettable retelling of Charles Dickens’s beloved holiday classic. Harry Gruber plays the role of Scrooge in his school’s production of “A Christmas Carol,” and he is extra nervous about tonight’s performance because his father is in the audience — not away for business, as usual. Will the story’s message of Christmas cheer and the redemptive power of love reach his father’s distracted Scrooge heart?

Frankencrayon
Written & illustrated by Michael Hall
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
What's So Special about Shakespeare?
Written by Michael Rosen & illustrated by Sarah Nayler
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Michael Rosen’s lively exploration of Shakespeare, reissued in an accessible new format for young middle-grade readers. More than four hundred years after William Shakespeare’s death, his name is known in every corner of the world. Why? Celebrated poet, critic, and Shakespeare enthusiast Michael Rosen answers that question with humor, knowledge, and appreciation, offering a whirlwind tour of Shakespeare’s life, his London, and four of his plays: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, King Lear, and The Tempest.

  • The Lost Boy's Gift - There are places where you want to go and places where you want to leave. There are also places where you want to stay. Nine-year-old Daniel must move across the country with his mom after his parents’ divorce. He’s leaving behind his whole life—everything—and he’s taking a suitcase of anger with him. But Daniel is in for a surprise when he settles into While-a-Way Lane and meets his new neighbors—the Lemonade Girl, the hopscotching mailman, the tiny creatures, and especially Tilda Butter. Tilda knows how to look and listen closely, and it’s that gift that helps Daniel find his way in that curious place called While-a-Way Lane. Kimberly Willis Holt explores themes of divorce, acceptance, intergenerational friendship, and the power that comes with listening thoughtfully in this insightful novel.

  • The Littlest Christmas Star - Max wants to be the star in his class’s Christmas play. And he is the star . . . of Bethlehem. Upset with his small part, Max tries to help by painting scenery or singing with the chorus, but those are not his jobs. The day of the play finally arrives, and when the light shines on Max—and Max alone—he realizes just how big his part is!

  • Shai & Emmie Star in Break an Egg! - From Academy Award–nominated actress Quvenzhané Wallis comes the first story in a brand-new series about best friends Shai and Emmie, two third graders destined for superstardom. Shai Williams was born to be a star (or a veterinarian—and maybe a dentist). She attends a special elementary school for the performing arts, and her grandma Rosa and aunt Mac-N-Cheese are both actresses. So Shai is shocked when she doesn’t get the lead role in the third-grade musical. Instead, the part goes to the new girl, Gabby Supreme, who thinks she is better than everyone else. To add insult to injury, Ms. Gremillion has now asked Shai to help Gabby with the role. Shai reluctantly agrees and enlists Emmie to help, but Gabby isn’t going to make it easy. As opening night draws near, Shai discovers that making a new friend is sometimes like putting on a show—it requires dedication, patience, and lots and lots of practice.

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