Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead book cover

As a preschool teacher, my classroom is filled with music. If it’s not the latest Disney hit, it’s the sound of us singing at circle time, or the banging of drums made from cereal boxes. It may be noisy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Why? Because music is incredible! Many attest to music’s power to help children with motor skills, math, social-emotional skills, creativity, and even literacy. So if you have a little one who’s always ready to turn the volume up and get down to the beat, then this is the book list for you. We’ve got a selection of 12 toe-tapping picture books for kids who love music!


by Pharrell Williams, photography by Amanda Pratt

This book lives up to its name. If you’re familiar with the hit song “Happy” by Pharell Williams, then you already know this book. The words are accompanied by bright, playful photographs and graphic elements that bring a smile to your face. In fact, you might just find yourself singing this book out loud.



by Mo Willems, illustrated by Amber Ren

When you think of uber-popular children’s author Mo Willems, you probably think of silly jokes, adorable illustrations, and pigeons who desperately want to drive a bus. But in Because, Willems takes a turn to the touchingly sweet. With lovely illustrations by Amber Ren, this book demonstrates how exposing a child to music and fostering that love creates a world with even more beauty and music.


Puff the Magic Dragon

by Peter Yarrow and Lenny Lipton, illustrated by Eric Puybaret

This classic 1960’s song by folk singing group Peter, Paul, and Mary has been lovingly transformed into a picture book for current generations. It includes a CD of the original recording (you can also find it on various music streaming services) to play along as you enjoy the friendship of Puff and little Jackie Paper. The ending illustrations also introduce a beautiful resolution to the sadness children feel at the end of the song.


Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music

by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael López

Author Margarita Engle has created a vivid and lively biography about a young girl who dares to break the taboos of Cuba by becoming a female drummer and taking the Cuban music world by storm. The tale is inspired by the real life of Chinese-African-Cuban Millo Castro Zaldarriaga. The illustrations by the award-winning Rafael López bring the country to life and will make readers want to make music of their own.


Trombone Shorty

by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, illustrated by Bryan Collier

Master musician Trombone Shorty has written a children’s book that’s as dynamic and fun as the music he makes. It tells the story of how he became a trombone player growing up in New Orleans (as well as a trumpet, tuba, drums, and organ player). This Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award-winning book feels so alive, you can almost hear the music jumping off the page. In fact, why not play some of Trombone Shorty’s music after reading his book? It will make you and your child love it all the more!


Music Is…

by Brandon Stosuy, illustrated by Amy Martin

Music Is….everything. In this bilingual board book (Spanish and English), music writer Brandon Stousy has created an introduction for infants and toddlers to everything that music can be. And illustrator Amy Martin has taken it to another level. Bright, colorful, and filled with movement, I predict this title your family will enjoy over and over again.


One Love

by Bob Marley, adapted by Cedella Marley, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Bob Marley’s timeless lyrics come to life in this fabulous children’s book, adapted by his daughter, Cedella Marley. And what makes this book even more special is the superb illustrative style of Vanessa Brantley-Newton. If your child loves this volume (and Marley’s timeless music), Cedella Marley has put out two other board books based on his other hits: Every Little Thing (based on the beloved anthem “Three Little Birds”) and Get Up, Stand Up.


Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin!

by Lloyd Moss, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

An onomatopoeia orchestra is what you’ll find tucked into the pages of Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin! (Onomatopoeia means words that sound like what they mean, like cuckoo.) This Caldecott Honor book sizzles, swings, and spins with words as your child learns about the sounds of an orchestra. Simple, fun, and told in rhyme, this book opens up a chance for children to try making musical sounds of their own.



by Susan Lendroth, illustrated by Priscilla Burris

Natusmi is anything but quiet or gentle. She can’t be delicate with her grandma’s flowers, or quiet during her mother’s dance rehearsals, or calm during her father’s tea ceremony. But that’s alright with Natsumi—because her grandfather knows just what to do. Natsumi learns that there is a way for her to participate in traditional Japanese pastimes and remain true to her excited, noisy self. It’s Taiko drumming!


Bowwow Powwow

by Brenda J. Child, illustrated by Jonathan Thunder

Bowwow Powwow is a fantastic bilingual book by Ojibwe author, Brenda J. Child. It tells the story of a young First Nations girl and the stray dog who becomes her best friend. With the help of her family, dog, and dreams, she learns about the magic and wonder of the traditional powwow, connecting deeply to her cultural roots. The story is also told in the Ojibwe language, thanks to a translation by Gordon Jourdain.


Yellow Dog Blues

by Alice Faye Duncan, illustrated by Chris Raschka

An homage to blues music and a pilgrimage through key spots in its history, Yellow Dog Blues is an eye-catching and ear-capturing volume. School librarian and author Duncan says she wrote the story to be read aloud and “experienced like a blues song.” It follows a child named Bo Willie as he searches for his beloved dog through legendary locations from Mississippi’s Merigold Blues Club to Memphis’s Beale Street. The illustrations are stitched, invoking the history of the blues as part of the fabric of American music. Break out the B.B. King and enjoy.


Rock Star Recess

by Patrick Baggatta, illustrated by Emily Mullock

Elsie is tired of singing the same old songs in class. She’s ready to rock! So she and two friends form a band to perform their own songs at recess. But as they get swept up in the momentum of fame and the glamor of the rock-star life, they forget to actually practice any songs! Through it all, though, Elsie is ready to let her creativity and love of music lead the way. Even if they lead her astray sometimes, it will all come right in the end. This story is best for elementary school children who are fans of pop concerts and performances.