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There are some kids who are just born with an ear for music. Beyond all of the albums and memorabilia, some of the best children’s music books can inspire young audiophiles. Even the most instrument-inclined little ones will want to get to know their favorite artists beyond the sheet music, and books are one way to introduce them to the talents behind the tunes while encouraging a love for reading.
What Are the Best Music Books for Kids?
Looking for music-inspired gift ideas for the next generation of fans? We’ve rounded up some of the best music books for kids to build their growing libraries. Whether they’re mini Deadheads, pint-sized grunge fans, or young blues enthusiasts, check out our top picks of the best kids music books below.
1. Swing Sisters: The Story of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm by Karen Deans
This picture book by Karen Deans tells the story of the Sweethearts, the school band for Mississippi’s Piney Woods Country Life School orphanage founded by Dr. Laurence Clifton Jones. The illustrated storybook follows the Sweethearts’ journey after graduating from the school and performing across the globe, and how they used swing music to break down racism and sexism throughout it all.
2. Bands by Jude
Written by a music-obsessed kid for audiophiles of all ages, Bands is an ABC book for indie rock fans. With already six Coachella festivals under his belt, young author Jude McCaw Evans’ first book is an alphabetical primer of his favorite acts and their hometowns, and is illustrated by artist Chloe Becky. From the Arctic Monkeys and Modest Mouse to Tame Impala and Zeus, the 36-page tome is for anyone looking for playlist additions or reminders of old favorites.
3. Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton
Readers don’t have to be country music fans to love this illustrated book inspired by Dolly Parton’s song, “Coat of Many Colors.” The legend’s lyrics are illustrated by Brooke Boynton-Hughes to tell the story of a young girl who is teased by classmates for wearing a coat sewn from rags. This heartfelt book teaches a lesson about love that will touch everyone’s hearts.
4. Octopus’s Garden by Ringo Starr
Beatles legend Ringo Starr takes the classic Beatles’ song and reinterprets it for little ones with colorful illustrations and a sing-along CD of the song included inside. It’s a great way to introduce kids to the music of the Beatles, while discovering just what exactly lies in the octopus’ garden underneath the shade.
5. The Story of Rock by Lindsey Sagar
This chunky 24-page board book (part of Silver Dolphin Books’ “The Story of” series) teaches tots all about everyone from David Bowie and the Beatles to Elvis Presley and Janis Joplin.
6. When The Beat Was Born by Laban Carrick Hill
Written by Laban Carrick Hill and illustrated by Theodore Tayor III, When the Beat Was Born recounts the life story of Clive Campbell, a.k.a. DJ Kool Herc, a pioneering hip-hop artist who laid the groundwork with his dual-turntable beats. This 32-page book paints a vibrant picture of the Bronx’s breakdancing-powered music scene from 1973 to 1986, offering a look into the past and the beginnings of hip-hop culture.
7. Forever Young by Bob Dylan
Award-winning illustrator Paul Rogers reimagines Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” into a 40-page coming-of-age picture book that pays homage to one of the beloved musician’s most popular songs. Kids will love learning about the iconic singer-songwriter, while grown-ups will delight at the illustrated references to Dylan’s career and other Sixties icons (think Joan Baez, DA Pennebaker, and others) throughout the pages.
8. Every Little Thing by Bob Marley
Adapted by singer and entrepreneur Cedella Marley, the daughter of Bob Marley, Every Little Thing takes its inspiration from the reggae icon’s hit song, “Three Little Birds.” In this 24-page board book, little ones will read about a young boy who believes that everything’s gonna be alright, thanks to three little bird pals.
9. Gus & Me by Keith Richards
Before Keith Richards became a guitar god, he was a young boy who looked up to his grandfather, Theodore August Dupree, a big band musician. Featuring colorful pen-and-ink illustrations by the icon’s daughter, Theodora Richards, this 32-page autobiography shows a heartfelt side of the Rolling Stones guitarist and the musical talents that run in his blood. The book also includes family photos and bonus content on an exclusive audio CD.
10. Black Music Greats: 40 Inspiring Icons by Olivier Cachin
Part of the “40 Inspiring Icons” series, this 96-page book introduces elementary-aged readers (and grown-ups) to some of the most influential Black artists in music history. From the Supremes and the N.W.A., to Marvin Gaye and Donna Summer, to modern chart-toppers like Beyoncé and the Weeknd (to name just a few), this illustrated primer tells the stories of the iconic talents in blues, doo-wop, rap, pop, and other genres.
11. The Teddy Bears’ Picnic by Jerry Garcia
For the littlest Deadheads, this whimsical board book puts a playful spin on the Grateful Dead song. Illustrated by artist Bruce Whatley, the charming story takes psych rock-loving toddlers on a Sixties-style trip with Jerry Garcia and a pack of picnic-bound teddy bears.
12. The English Roses by Madonna
Multi-hyphenate Madonna is also a children’s book author. Her colorful storybook, The English Roses, is about four of 11-year-old schoolgirls in London who learn a lesson in compassion. When a fairy godmother reveals what life is really like for Binah, a “seemingly perfect” girl who is excluded from the group’s parties, the girls realize that not everything is what it seems. Illustrated by Jeffrey Fulvimari, the book is part of a collaborative series between Madge and the watercolor artist.
13. Mister and Lady Day by Amy Novesky
Billie Holiday loved canines, and Mister and Lady Day by Amy Novesky tells the story of one of the blues icon’s most beloved dogs. This 32-page book spotlights the empowering bond between Lady Day and Mister, a boxer who accompanied the star at her legendary Carnegie Hall performance. Alongside a rare photo of Holiday and her pup, the book includes a note about the singer’s tumultuous life.
14. Lives of the Musicians (And What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull and Kathryn Hewitt
Written for readers ages 10 to 12, Lives of the Musicians delves into the life stories of music icons including Vivaldi, Mozart, Woody Gurthrie, Scott Joplin, and others across 96 pages. Music-loving bookworms will get to know the artists’ vibrant personalities and fascinating quirks as well as what the neighbors really thought of their note-filled past-times.
15. The Life of Selena by Patty Rodriguez and Ariana Stein
This bilingual board book about Selena Quintanilla teaches “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom”-loving babies all about the Queen of Tejano. From her favorite foods to the name of her tour bus, the icon’s life and influence on the music industry are portrayed through colorful images by illustrator Citlali Reyes.
16. Music Greats: 40 Inspiring Icons by Hervé Guilleminot
In this 88-page book by Hervé Guilleminot, elementary school-aged readers can get to know 40 chart-topping icons. Jérôme Masi’s bright and playful illustrations help immortalize inspiring legends of the past and present, including Blondie, Nirvana, Patti Smith, Radiohead, the Rolling Stones, U2, the Velvet Underground, The Who, and many more.