There’s something magical about exploring music with children. Besides teaching them about musical genres, famous musicians, and instruments, music also provides opportunities to connect with different cultures, experience feelings and emotions, and bring history to life. This diverse list of our favorite music books for kids has a little something for everyone.
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1. Music Is… by Brandon Stosuy (PreK-K)
This deceptively simple board book packs so much musical vocabulary for kids. Find tons of inspiration for your own “Music is…” writing and art prompts. Also, check out the companion title We Are Music.
Violet knew she was a musician her entire life. She played alone until finally finding others to play with who were just like her. This is a sweet character study and an affirming title for kids who can’t resist playing music “all day long.”
3. Natsumi! by Susan Lendroth (PreK-1)
Natsumi is eager to join in the Japanese arts festival in her town, but her exuberance is too much for many of the traditional arts. When she learns more about drumming, though, she realizes it’s a perfect fit. This is a fun title to introduce simple percussion explorations in the classroom.
It’s electric! You will definitely be smiling and humming by the end of this book. Kai’s family is full of accomplished dancers, but he hasn’t found his groove yet. When a family wedding presents the opportunity, he faces the music and takes the dance floor by storm. This is an encouraging title for kids who are nervous to try out music and dance activities at school.
Winston yearns to be in the winning band at Carnival … but he has neither bandmates nor instruments. Undeterred, he raids the town dump for recycled containers to create drums. Before long, Winston’s Junkyard Band is a huge local hit. We love using this title to introduce an instrument-making project. Plus, the amazing onomatopoeia and illustrations by Frané Lessac just make us happy.
Each wild animal in this rhythmic romp has different strengths and skills. When they join together, it’s a WILD SYMPHONY! The small details in this musical tale make it able to be appreciated on multiple levels, but regardless—toes will be tapping! This could be a fantastic introduction to a group music-making activity.
Rafi and Rosi are two very endearing Puerto Rican tree frogs. In this series installment, they learn about three types of music important to Puerto Rican culture: bomba, plena, and salsa. This works well as an advanced early reader or as an informative and fun read aloud! This book includes Spanish words and is also available fully in Spanish.
When Reyna accidentally breaks her abuelito’s special instrument, a vihuela, she’s heartbroken—and determined to get it fixed. This touching title celebrates family bonds, mariachi music, and the power of community.
This title celebrates percussion and, in particular, girl drummers. Written in verse, it’s inspired by a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke gender barriers for drumming in Cuba in the 1930s.
This is one of our favorite music books for kids because it also incorporates art. When young Vasya Kandinsky opens his paint box, he’s surprised that the colors create a symphony of sounds. If you like to have kids draw their impressions of music as they listen, this title is a must-have.
11. Because by Mo Willems (K-4)
Because historic composers wrote beautiful music and combined efforts, they created a concert that changed one young musician’s course … that young musician wrote more beautiful music. This story celebrates the enduring power of music and also introduces kids to many musical terms. It could also inspire beautiful students writing about pivotal experiences in their own lives–musical or not.
Perfect for Black History Month, or any time of year, this narrative nonfiction tale celebrates the special power of a song. “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” written by the principal of a segregated school in 1900, brought comfort and inspiration to many throughout the 20th century and eventually became known as the Black National Anthem.
This autobiography describes how New Orleans jazz trombonist Troy “Trombone Shorty” started out playing a discarded trombone in a ragtag neighborhood band. His story shows kids interested in a future in music that, with dedication, anything is possible.
This creative nonfiction title explains the basis for all music: sound. From cool graphics showing how the ear works to examples of how the noises we hear everyday can be considered music, this title will expand your students’ perspective for sure.
Here’s an engaging collection of notable events–large and small–in Elvis’s life, from his first cheeseburger to his transformation from awkward teen to TV phenomenon. We like how the author treats his childhood poverty in a straightforward but sensitive way. All the anecdotes definitely pique kids’ curiosity about “the King.”
This is one of the most breathtakingly gorgeous music books for kids. It introduces kids to an important musical icon and highlights the relationship between music and social justice. Read it and then cue up a playlist of the Queen of Soul’s chart-topping hits.
This fascinating and artful trip through musical history will fascinate kids (and adults too). Learn about how artists from so many domains—storytelling, poetry, funk, street art, breakdancing, deejaying, and more—helped rap and hip-hop become what they are today.
This comprehensive guide truly covers everything musical! It’s got info on notable genres, instruments, and composers, and tips on reading music. Plus, there are plenty of fun facts to keep kids interested. (Did you know fish can be trained to tell the difference between Bach and Stravinsky?)
This substantial title is a children’s book version of Music History 101. From instruments carved from bones unearthed in caves to Lady Gaga and everything in between, there’s so much information here to satisfy kids’ musical interests.
Did we miss any of your favorite music books for kids? Let us know in the comments!
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