“Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.” -- Confucius

Add the titles below to your favorites and enjoy the music in your life. Visit Music in Our Schools Month in the Activities Calendars for weblinks and activities.


Adoff, Jaime.  Song Shoots Out of My Mouth: A Celebration of Music.  Illus. by Martin French.  Dutton, 2002.  Gr. 6-9
A collection of free verse poems about all different types of music that contain an invitation to move with the rhythms of the words. Musical terms and musicians are mentioned in some of the poems. Appended matter defines the terms, offers background on the musicians, and suggests a “listening” list. Bright splashy illustrations make this a picture book for older students.

Ajmera, Maya, Derstine, Elise Hofer, & Pon, Cynthia.  Music Everywhere!  Charlesbridge, 2014.  Gr. K-3
Color photographs of joyful children singing, dancing, and playing musical instruments from countries around the world show music as a universal language. Some of the instruments are familiar while others are unique to a country. Back matter includes a world map of the countries mentioned, glossary, instructions for making musical instruments, and music activities for all ages to enjoy.

Aliki.  Ah, Music!  HarperCollins, 2003.  Gr. 2-4
Delicate illustrations complement this introduction to music that includes history, composers, definitions, musical instruments, and more.

Armstrong, Jennifer (Ed.).  What a Song Can Do: 12 Riffs on the Power of Music.  Knopf, 2004.
Gr. 6 & above
Twelve short stories from popular young adult authors offer perspective on the influence of music on one’s life.

Auch, Mary Jane.  Bantam of the Opera.  Holiday House, 1997.  Gr. 2-4
When a farmer and his wife decide to see a touring production of “Rigoletto,” their singing rooster Luigi tags along. Luigi decides to stay, which angers the company’s famed tenor. But sing he must…and does…on his way to becoming a great tenor himself. Humorous illustrations and lots of word play make this a funny read aloud.

Austin, Patricia.  The Cat Who Loved Mozart.  Illus. by Henri Sorensen.  Holiday House, 2001.  Gr. 2-4
Oil paintings illustrate this story of a girl who dreams of becoming a concert pianist and the stray cat she brings home. She names him Amadeus, but he has no interest in her, and she neglects her music while trying to get his attention. It is not until she begins to play Mozart that the cat becomes her faithful companion.

Bang-Campbell, Monika.  Little Rat Makes Music.  Illus. by Molly Bang.  Harcourt, 2007.  Gr. 1-3
Little Rat wants to play the violin well, but she doesn’t want to practice. With the help of an advanced student, Little Rat begins to make beautiful music of her own. Watercolor and gouache illustrations complement this story about the benefits of hard work.

Bonners, Susan.  Making Music.  Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2002.  Gr. 3-5
When Annie, her mother, and little brother move to a new neighborhood, times are hard. While her mother works, Annie gets to know the house and the neighborhood and meets an elderly neighbor who trades her piano lessons for Annie’s help around her house and garden. Supportive adults and a warm intergenerational friendship highlight this story.

Bottner, Barbara.  Hurricane Music.  Illus. by Paul Yalowitz.  Putnam, 1995.  Gr. K-3
Aunt Margaret finds an old clarinet and sets off mimicking all the sounds she hears. When a hurricane blows her clarinet away, her niece gives her a harmonica to cheer her up. She loves playing it, and as luck would have it, the next hurricane blows back her clarinet. Fluid illustrations in soft colors add humor to the story.

Busse, Sarah Martin & Martin, Jacqueline Briggs.  Banjo Granny.  Illus. by Barry Root.  Houghton Mifflin, 2006.  Gr. K-2
When Owen’s granny hears that he is “tip over tumble” for bluegrass music, she packs up her banjo case and begins her thousand mile trek (on foot) to get to him. The river, mountain, and desert made the trip seem impossible, but Granny tames them all because Owen is anxiously awaiting her arrival. When she gets there, she sings and plays her “Owen-song” and they both delight in the music. Sunny and cheerful watercolor, gouache, and pastel pencil illustrations highlight the text. Words and musical notation to “Owen’s Song” introduce the book.

Chocolate, Debbie.  The Piano Man.  Illus. by Eric Velasquez.  Walker, 1998.  Gr. 1-4
In a first-person narrative, a little African American girl tells the story of her grandfather who once played piano in a silent movie theater, on Broadway, and in vaudeville. As times changed, he became a piano tuner and eventually played for the enjoyment of his family on an old upright piano that his daughter purchased from a theater where he once played. This warm memory from the author’s own family is illustrated with large acrylic paintings that set the tone for the history of the story.

Clement, Gary.  The Great Poochini.  Groundwood, 1999.  Gr. 1-4
By day, Jack is an ordinary dog who lives with his master in the city. By night, however, he is the famous canine opera star, the Great Poochini. Trouble ensues on the night of a big premiere when he gets locked inside his house and it takes the actions of a cat burglar to enable his escape. Fortunately, he makes it to the stage on time. Lots of detail and humor in the illustrations, but most of the puns will be lost on younger readers/listeners.

Cooper, Michael L.  Slave Spirituals and the Jubilee Singers.  Clarion, 2001.  Gr. 5-9
The first half of this book surveys the development of spirituals from African musical traditions. The second half discusses the Jubilee Singers from Fisk University and their rise to fame by touring and singing spirituals. Reproductions of period photos, posters, prints, and other archival material enhance the information. Good use of source notes. Words and music to seven spirituals are appended.

Costanza, Stephen.  Vivaldi and the Invisible Orchestra.  Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt, 2012.  Gr. 1-3
Vivaldi's 40-member orchestra, comprised of orphan girls and called "invisible" because they performed behind a curtain, became famous across Europe. This story imagines a copyist, whose job was to prepare the sheet music for the individual sections of the orchestra. This particular girl added bits of poetry about nature to her transcriptions, thus inspiring Vivaldi's famous work, The Four Seasons. An appended author's note provides additional information.

Cox, Judy.  My Family Plays Music.  Illus. by Elbrite Brown.  Holiday House, 2003.  Gr. K-3
A little girl introduces her extended multiracial family and the styles of music they play (10 different types of music in all). She manages to accompany each of them on a percussion instrument. Cut-paper illustrations in bright colors contribute to the joyful music-making.

Crum, Shutta.  My Mountain Song.  Illus. by Ted Rand.  Clarion, 2004.  Gr. K-4
Gran Pap tells Brenda Gail that everyone in the mountains has a song in them and that she can create her own with her favorite memories. As she goes through daily chores, she adds ideas to her tune. Folksy language and soft watercolor illustrations combine to create a warm portrait of old-fashioned farm life and family strength.

Curtis, Gavin.  The Bat Boy and His Violin.  Illus. by E.B. Lewis.  Simon & Schuster, 1998.  Gr. 1-3
Reginald, who is very serious about playing the violin, is the son of the coach of the Negro National League’s worst baseball team. His father is not thrilled with the violin playing and thinks his son is better served being the team’s bat boy. Reginald is not very competent, but when he starts playing the violin in the dugout, the players are inspired and the team’s season turns around. Lovely watercolor illustrations enhance this touching story.

Daly, Niki.  Ruby Sings the Blues.  Bloomsbury, 2005.  Gr. K-3
Feeling ostracized because of her very loud voice, Ruby is depressed until her jazz musician neighbors teach her how to make the most of her voice. In no time, she’s realizing her talent and singing the blues to her heart’s content. The mixed media illustrations show a multicultural neighborhood united by music.

DeGross, Monalisa.  Granddaddy’s Street Songs.  Illus. by Floyd Cooper.  Hyperion, 1999.  Gr. 1-4
Fuzzy, muted colors in the illustrations add a nostalgic feel to this story of an African American grandfather who tells his grandson about 1950s Baltimore and selling fruits and vegetables on the streets. Hearing these vendors hawking their wares by singing their distinctive songs in the streets was typical of this time in most large cities, and this book will give readers a glimpse into the past.

Dillon, Leo & Diane.  Jazz on a Saturday Night.  Blue Sky/Scholastic, 2007.  Gr. 1-4
Rhythmic text and richly colored paintings work together in this tribute to jazz. The book is meant to be read with the accompanying audio CD, which introduces jazz and highlights each of instruments and concludes with an original song, “Jazz on a Saturday Night.” Biographical sketches of each of the musicians who make appearance “on stage” are appended. Overall, an amazing multisensory learning experience.

Duncan, Alice Faye.  Willie Jerome.  Illus. by Tyrone Geter.  Simon & Schuster, 1995.  Gr. 1-3
Willie blasts away on his trumpet up on the roof, and everyone except his sister thinks it’s nothing but noise. His sister calls it “sizzlin’ red hot bebop,” and one evening when their Mama comes home tired from work, even she realizes it is so if people would just take the time to listen. Richly colored oil paintings reflect urban life.

Ehrhardt, Karen.  This Jazz Man.  Illus. by R.G. Roth.  Harcourt, 2006.  Gr. 1-4
Based on the song “This Old Man,” the text counts from one to nine introducing famous African American jazz musicians. Collage illustrations back up the words with a beat of their own. Biographical sketches of the musicians are appended. Lively, meant to be read aloud!

Fleming, Candace.  Gabriella’s Song.  Illus. by Giselle Potter.  Atheneum, 1997.  Gr. 1-3
In Venice, Gabriella hears music in everything she sees as she walks around the city. The sounds come together into a tune that she hums, others hear it and pass it along until a breeze catches it and a frustrated composer turns it into a magnificent symphony. Ink, watercolor, and colored pencil illustrations reflect the backgrounds of the city. Front endpapers have sheets of music fluttering from clotheslines; back endpapers feature a map of Italy.

Friedman, D. Dina.  Playing Dad’s Song.  Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2006.  Gr. 4-6
Overcome with grief at the death of his father at the World Trade Center two years before, 11-year-old Gus has trouble dealing with just about everything until his mother arranges oboe lessons for him and he begins to compose his own music.

Geeslin, Campbell.  Elena’s Serenade.  Illus. by Ana Juan.  Atheneum, 2004.  Gr. K-3
In this story set in Mexico, a little girl wants to be a glassblower like her father. He discourages her, but she is determined to learn. On a journey to the city, she blows beautiful melodies on her pipe, which attracts the attention of animals along the way. They give her some confidence and when she reaches her destination, she blows a lovely glass star while playing her pipe. At home, her father finally realizes her talent. Acrylic and crayon illustrations in a folk art style set the stage for the story.

Gollub, Matthew.  The Jazz Fly.  Illus. by Karen Hanke.  Tortuga, 2000.  Gr. K-2
A fly that plays the drums gets lost on his way to a performance and asks the animals he meets for help. He doesn’t speak their language, but he remembers the sounds they made and uses them to create a whole new sound that makes the band famous. Clever book design and computer-generated illustrations give the book a jazzy feel. The accompanying audio CD is lively and will invite audience participation.

Gray, Libba Moore.  When Uncle Took the Fiddle.  Illus. by Lloyd Bloom.  Orchard, 1999.  Gr. K-2
Even though a mountain family is tired at the end of day, Uncle’s fiddling causes everyone to start tappin’ and clappin’ and before long, all the neighbors down the hill join in. Lively colored pencil illustrations fit the mood of the story.

High, Linda Oltman.  Cool Bopper’s Choppers.  Illus. by John O’Brien.  Boyds Mills, 2007.  Gr. K-3
Cool Bopper plays a hoppin’ sax, but when he loses his dentures and they are accidentally flushed, he also loses his sound. Upset at his loss, he heads for the beach where he finds his teeth blowing a tune through a shell that’s washed up on the beach. He pops them back in his mouth, and he’s groovin’ once again. Watercolor and ink pointillist illustrations jive with the movement of the text in this humorous story.

Holiday, Billie & Herzog, Arthur, Jr.  God Bless the Child.  Illus. by Jerry Pinkney.  HarperCollins, 2004.
Gr. 2-5
Exquisite watercolor paintings depicting the Great Migration from the cotton fields of the South to Chicago in the 1930s interprets the words of the old spiritual. An audio CD of Billie Holiday performing the song is included. Appended notes explain Pinkney’s research for the illustrations and gives a bit of information about the Great Migration.

Hopkinson, Deborah.  A Band of Angels: A Story Inspired by the Jubilee Singers.  Illus. by Raúl Colόn. Atheneum, 1999.  Gr. 2-5
Told from the viewpoint of a great-great- granddaughter of one of the Jubilee Singers, this fact-based fictional story imagines what it was like for the chorus to raise money to save their school (the Fisk School in Nashville, the first school for freed slaves). When the group began to sing spirituals, they received much critical acclaim worldwide. Sepia-toned watercolor and colored pencil illustrations give this heartwarming story a nostalgic feel.

Igus, Toyomi.  I See the Rhythm.  Illus. by Michelle Wood.  Children’s Book Press, 1998.  Gr. 5-8
Free verse poems and evocative paintings in a well-designed format provide an overview of African American music. Several types of music span the years, incorporating lyrics that provide a feel for the music. A superb book that begs for musical accompaniment.

Johnson, Angela.  Violet’s Music.  Illus. by Laura Huliska-Beith.  Dial, 2004.  Gr. K-2
From the time she was still in the crib, Violet loved to play music. As she started school, she continually looked for others who enjoyed playing music as much as she did. She had no luck until finally, one day a few years later, she found the rest of her band in the park. Illustrations done in acrylics and collages of paper and cloth add cheer to this upbeat story.

Johnston, Tony.  The Harmonica.  Illus. by Ron Mazellan.  Charlesbridge, 2004.  Gr. 4-6
Inspired by a Holocaust survivor, this powerful first-person narrative recounts the story of a Polish boy who is separated from his parents when they are taken to concentration camps. Being from a family that loved music, he finds refuge in playing the harmonica and is ordered to play by the camp commandant who tosses him bread when he finishes. He feels anger and guilt from these nightly performances until he realizes that the other prisoners find solace in the sound of his harmonica. Picture book for older students.

Kaplan, Howard.  Waiting to Sing.  Illus. by Herve Blondon.  DK, 2000.  Gr. 1-4
Music is central to the life of a family whose mother/wife becomes ill and dies. She had always asked the boy to play her favorite song on the piano. The boy and his father are able to come to terms with their grief when they play the song together. Pastel illustrations are appropriate for the mood of the story.

Krull, Kathleen.  M Is for Music.  Illus. by Stacy Innerst.  Harcourt, 2003.  Gr. 2-5
Musicians, types of music, musical instruments, and various musical terms make up this compendium arranged in alphabetical format. Oil and acrylic collages create images that are as diverse as the subject matter. This book is sure to inspire curiosity about the multitude of musical references.

Levy, Debbie.  We Shall Overcome.  Illus. by Vanessa Brantley-Newton.  Jump at the Sun/Disney, 2013.
Gr. 1-4
Presents the evolution of the song that has become the anthem of civil rights, beginning with slaves in the fields and in churches. The lyrical text relates the spread of the song as a unifying force across the United States through the 20th century and its use in recent years as the freedom song for oppressed people all over the world. Brightly colored mixed media collage illustrations show people of all races and ages singing the song. Useful back matter includes an annotated timeline of the song that supplements the text with background information and sources, including internet sites where readers can listen to the song performed.

Lewis, Richard (Retold).  All of You Was Singing.  Illus. by Ed Young.  Atheneum, 1991.  Gr. 1-3
Retelling of an Aztec myth in which the sky god sends the wind god to the Sun to gather the musicians there and bring them to the earth. Mixed media illustrations complement the beauty of the story.

Litchfield, David.  The Bear and the Piano.  Clarion, 2016.  Gr. K-3
A bear stumbles upon a piano in the forest and makes only horrible noises on it at first. As he returns to play it many times after, the sounds become beautiful music, affording the bear opportunities to travel and play piano. As appealing as the adventures are to him, the call of home and friendship is equally powerful.

London, Jonathan.  Hip Cat.  Illus. by Woodleigh Hubbard.  Chronicle, 1993.  Gr. K-3
A groovy saxophone-playing cat heads for the big city to "make jazzzzzy music." Things don’t work out quite as he expected and he has to wait tables. He continues to play, however, and soon becomes the talk of the town. Brightly colored illustrations jump off the pages and form a perfect accompaniment for the lively text.

Martin, Bill, Jr.  The Maestro Plays.  Illus. by Vladimir Radunsky.  Henry Holt, 1994.  Gr. K-3
Bold colors and shapes, created from hand-cut colored paper, sometimes displayed horizontally, and other times, vertically, merge perfectly with the lively text (changing size and font) that uses vocabulary to a tremendous advantage.

McCully, Emily Arnold.  The Orphan Singer.  Scholastic, 2001.  Gr. 2-4
Even as an infant, baby Nina is recognized as a vocal talent, but her impoverished parents cannot provide lessons for her. They give her to a foundling home that specializes in music instruction, where she flourishes. They visit her as friends, and they become close. When their son becomes ill, only Nina’s voice can save him even though she disobeys the rules to help him. Watercolor and tempera illustrations abound in period details.

McPhail, David.  Mole Music.  Henry Holt, 1999.  Gr. K-3
Mole decides that digging his life away leaves something to be desired and acquires a violin. After much practicing (and a lot of screeches), he begins to play beautiful music. Over the years, his music transforms the lives of the animals and people who live above ground. Soothing pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations depict life both above and below ground. A satisfying story about making a difference in the lives of others by doing something that makes one happy.

Melmed, Laura Krauss.  The First Song Ever Sung.  Illus. by Ed Young.  Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1993.
Gr. 1-3
In a setting from ancient Japan, a small boy poses the question, “What was the first song ever sung?”, and each of the people and animals who respond answer according to their own focus in life. Blue washes over what appear to be oil pastels provide stunning illustrations and a powerful complement to the lyrical text.

Miller, William.  The Piano.  Illus. by Susan Keeter.  Lee & Low, 2000.  Gr. 1-4
Tia loves music. One day when she wanders out of her African American neighborhood, she hears beautiful music coming from a large mansion. She becomes a maid for the elderly woman who lives there. The two become friends as the woman teaches Tia to play the piano and Tia soothes her arthritic fingers. Details in the oil paintings depict the early 1900s time period beautifully.

Millman, Isaac.  Moses Goes to a Concert.  Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1998.  Gr. K-3
A group of deaf children go to a concert where they meet the percussionist, who is also deaf. She explains to the children how she became a percussionist and lets them play her instruments and feel the vibrations. Sign language diagrams are scattered throughout the cheerful watercolor illustrations. A good message about achieving one’s goals when determined to do so.

Moss, Lloyd.  Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin.  Illus. by Marjorie Priceman.  Simon & Schuster, 1995.  Gr. K-4
Page design, humorous watercolor illustrations, and a rhyming text merge harmoniously to teach 10 musical instruments of the orchestra. Elegant musicians exaggerated in appearance swing and sway across the pages in time to the music of the words. Caldecott Honor Book.

Moss, Lloyd.  Our Marching Band.  Illus. by Diana Cain Bluthenthal.  Putnam, 2001.  Gr. K-3
A rhyming text and humorous watercolor illustrations tell the story of a group of children who aspire to play different instruments. At first, the noise is unpleasant and all the neighbors complain, but with dedicated practice, the band improves and is invited to perform at the July 4th celebration.

Moss, Lloyd.  Music Is.  Illus. by Philippe Petit-Roulet.  Putnam, 2003.  Gr. 1-4
Rhyming text explains why music is so important—because it is part of all aspects of our lives, from the mundane to the exotic. Many different musical terms, instruments, people, and styles of music are included, accompanied by cartoon-like figures that reinforce the movement of the words.

Myers, Walter Dean.  Jazz.  Illus. by Christopher Myers.  Holiday House, 2006.  Gr. 4 & above
Exquisite acrylic expressionistic paintings illustrate a collection of poems that explore forms of jazz. People, places, and instruments are included in the presentation. Historical and technical information provide the introduction, and a glossary and chronology conclude the book. A mesmerizing presentation.

Ober, Hal (Retold).  How Music Came to the World.  Illus. by Carol Ober.  Houghton Mifflin, 1994.  Gr. 1-3
It is very quiet in the world because the Sun has all the singers and music-makers high in the sky. The sky god, Tezcatlipoca, and the wind god, Quetzalcoatl, normally do not get along well, but decide to cooperate to bring the music to earth. Cutout oil pastel drawings with motifs taken from the imagery of Mexican mythology form the illustrations.

Ogburn, Jacqueline K.  The Jukebox Man.  Illus. by James Ransome.  Dial, 1998.  Gr. 1-3
In the 1950s, a young girl accompanies her grandfather, a jukebox man, to all the locations around the state where he attends to the music in the machines. She especially enjoys dancing to her favorite song, “Blue Suede Shoes,” and was thrilled when he gave her the record so she could play it to her heart’s content. When the record gets broken, she realizes that they can still dance to the jukebox. Realistic oil paintings establish the time period.

Pinkney, Brian.  Max Found Two Sticks.  Simon & Schuster, 1994.  Gr. 1-3
Max doesn’t feel much like talking one day, but he picks up two sticks and begins to tap the rhythms of everything around him. At the end of the story, the drummer in a passing marching band tosses Max two drumsticks. Colorful scratchboard illustrations swirl with the movement of the text.

Pritchett, Dylan.  The First Music.  Illus. by Erin Bennett Banks.  August House Little Folk, 2006.  Gr. K-2
All of the African animals make their sounds as usual until one day they pay attention to the elephants and add their own rhythms and voices. The frogs sit watching quietly, and one the seventh day, they add their voices and everyone joins in. Great for audience participation of hands, feet, and sound effects.

Raschka, Chris.  Mysterious Thelonious.  Orchard, 1997.  Gr. 2-5
Raschka translates the music of Thelonious Monk’s “Misterioso” into an innovative book. He sets the words of the text to the melody and matches the 12 colors on the color wheel to 12 tones on the music scale. Monk himself can be seen on the pages in different poses. Swing and sway to this one!

Raschka, Chris.  John Coltrane’s Giant Steps.  Atheneum, 2002.  Gr. K-4
A box, a snowflake, some raindrops, and a kitten perform Coltrane’s famous “Giant Steps” in this stunning book. The words are simple and the composition builds as each performer represents a different instrument and is represented by different colors and shapes. The “conductor” isn’t pleased so they have to do it again until they finally achieve Coltrane’s “sheets of sound.” This creative, sensory experience begs to be presented with the actual music.

Raschka, Chris (Adapted & Illus.).  Peter and the Wolf.  Atheneum, 2008.  Gr. K-3
Raschka uses his unique style of art to present the familiar story as a theatrical performance. Each animal uses sound poetry appropriate to its species to introduce itself. The color and line in the illustrations add to the inventiveness.

Ray, Mary Lyn.  Pianna.  Illus. by Bobbie Henba.  Harcourt, 1994.  Gr. K-3
When Anna was a little girl (80 years ago), her parents bought a piano and she traveled on the train to Boston to her lessons. At home, she practiced and her siblings called her “Pianna.” She became very good at playing the piano and performed at community events. Anna grew up, married, and had children of her own, and still she played. And…as the story suggests, she may still be playing today. Acrylic illustrations provide details of the time setting for this story about the power of music as good company for life.

Reynolds, Peter H.  Playing from the Heart.  Candlewick, 2016.  Gr. K-3
A young boy takes piano lessons and, with encouragement from his father, becomes quite proficient. As he grows older, he loses interest playing and finally stops altogether. When his father becomes ill, he asks his son to play for him. This tribute to the power of music is a book for the heart.

Roche, Suzzy.  Want to Be in a Band?  Illus. by Giselle Potter.  Schwartz & Wade, 2013.  Gr. 1-4
This part memoir, part how-to by a member of the folk rock group The Roches will have its greatest appeal to music fans. Although the text does deal with the difficulty of learning an instrument, the long hours of practice, and the struggles with forming a group, being discovered, and performing, the book is a celebration of music. The colorful watercolor and ink illustrations have a naive appearance and depict the emotions of trying to make it as a performer.

Schulman, Janet (Adapted).  Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf.  Illus. by Peter Malone.  Knopf, 2004.  Gr. K-3
An orchestrated and narrated audio CD accompanies this retelling of the old favorite. The beginning page introduces the characters and their representative instruments. This retelling is a bit longer version than others. Paintings match the text very well.

Seeger, Pete & Jacobs, Paul Dubois.  The Deaf Musicians.  Illus. by R. Gregory Christie.  Putnam, 2006.
Gr. K-3
When Lee loses his hearing and must leave his band, he meets other musicians on the subway who are learning sign language and they form another band. Jazzy, colorful illustrations add to the uplifting nature of this story.

Shange, Ntozake.  i live in music.  Illus. by Romare Bearden.  Welcome Books, 1994.  Gr. 3 & above
Illustrated with 21 works from the artist Romare Bearden, this poem is an exquisite tribute to music and the role it plays in the lives of people. Extraordinary imagery in the words and in the art.

Sullivan, Sarah.  Passing the Music Down.  Illus. by Barry Root.  Candlewick, 2011.  Gr. 1-4
A young fiddle player wants an old man to teach him his tunes. Based on folk musician Jack Krack and his mentor, legendary fiddler Melvin Wine, the story tells how the two work and perform together until the old man dies and the grown boy promises to pass the music on. Watercolor and gouache illustrations show the changing Appalachian seasons and passing years. An appended Author's Note provides information about both men and the songs mentioned in the story.

Taylor, Debbie A.  Sweet Music in Harlem.  Illus. by Frank Morrison.  Lee & Low, 2004.  Gr. 2-4
C.J.’s uncle, a famous jazz musician from the past, is about to have his picture taken for a magazine, but he can’t find his hat. C.J. rushes to find it with no luck, but he does find a collection of music greats who want to be in the picture. Acrylic illustrations filled with energy complement the rhythmic text. The book is based on an actual photograph 57 jazz musicians taken in 1958. The photo is reproduced in the book, and all of the artists are identified.

Thomas, Joyce Carol.  The Gospel Cinderella.  Illus. by David Diaz.  HarperCollins, 2004.  Gr. K-3
In this African American variation of a “Cinderella” story, Queen Rhythm is looking for a very special voice to take her place in the Great Gospel Choir and holds a convention to find her. A house-to-house search finally yields just the right girl (who is actually Queen Rhythm’s long lost daughter), and she takes her place in the choir. Large acrylic illustrations in rich colors fill the pages.

Urban, Linda.  A Crooked Kind of Perfect.  Harcourt, 2007.  Gr. 4-6
Longing to play the piano, 10-year-old Zoe must resign herself to learning the organ instead. She forges ahead, however, preparing for a competition and facing situations created by her worrisome parents. Strong theme of believing in oneself.

Velasquez, Eric.  Grandma’s Records.  Walker, 2001.  Gr. 1-3
A memoir story at its best, in which a boy reflects on the summers he spent with his grandmother in Spanish Harlem, dancing to her records, sketching album covers, and listening to her stories of growing up in Puerto Rico. At the end of the book, the boy is an adult, illustrating this book and listening to a CD. Realistic illustrations capture the mood of the story.

Weatherford, Carole Boston.  The Sound That Jazz Makes.  Illus. by Eric Velasquez.  Walker, 2000.  Gr. 3-6
Rhymed text traces the roots of jazz music to its African origins and follows it to the rap and hip hop of present day. Each pictorial spread throughout the book focuses on a different music form and its accompanying time period. Attractive oil paintings fit the music and time with appropriate color and mood.

Weaver, Tess.  Opera Cat.  Illus. by Andrea Wesson.  Clarion, 2002.  Gr. K-2
Madame Soso’s cat, Alma, loves opera and knows the words to all the songs and secretly practices with the star every day. When Madame develops laryngitis, Alma seizes the opportunity, tucks herself away in the diva’s wig, and performs beautifully. Humorous illustrations add to the fun of the tale.

Wheeler, Lisa.  Jazz Baby.  Illus. by R. Gregory Christie.  Harcourt, 2007.  Gr. Pre-1
In a very rhythmic text, Baby and his extended family happily swing and sway across the pages until he is worn out and tucked into bed. A joyful book meant for movement to accompany the reading.

Williams, Vera B.  Music, Music for Everyone.  HarperCollins, 1984.  Gr. K-3
Rosa (from A Chair for My Mother) plays the accordion with her friends who make up the Oak Street Band to help her mother with expenses when her grandmother is sick.

Biography and fictionalized biography
Alcorn, Stephen.  Odetta: The Queen of Folk.  Scholastic, 2010.  Gr. 3-5
Extraordinary illustrations and a poetic text make up this stunning picture book biography of the "Queen of Folk." Much of the story is devoted to Odetta's young life, in which she was subjected to much racial discrimination. Her voice and talent eventually emerged to the point that she became an icon of folk music. Appended note offers additional details about her life.

Anderson, M.T.  Strange Mr. Satie.  Illus. by Petra Mathers.  Viking, 2003.  Gr. 3-5
An offbeat look at French composer Erik Satie, who was known for his very unusual compositions.

Anderson, M.T.  Handel, Who Knew What He Liked.  Illus. by Kevin Hawkes.  Candlewick, 2001.  Gr. 2-5
Childhood antics and adult triumphs are brought to life through clever writing, rich content, and double-paged acrylic paintings.

Brown, Monica.  Tito Puente, Mambo King/Rey del Mambo.  Illus. by Rafael Lopez.  Rayo/HarperCollins, 2013.  Gr. 2-4
As a child in Harlem, Tito Puente made music with pots and pans. He went on to win five Grammy Awards for his Latin music. Acrylic illustrations painted on sanded wooden boards complement the lively and lyrical text of this bilingual picture book biography. Meant to be read with some of Puente's mambo music.

Brown, Monica.  My Name Is Celia/Me llamo Celia: The Life of Celia Cruz/la vida de Celia Cruz.  Illus. by Rafael Lopez.  Rising Moon, 2004.  Gr. 2-4
This lively, bilingual picture book in rhythmic first person narrative follows the career of salsa singer Celia Cruz from her childhood in Havana, through her exile from Cuba as a result of Castro's regime, to her success in New York and Miami. Colorful acrylic illustrations add to the exuberance. Appended biographical information.

Bryant, Jen.  Music for the End of Time.  Illus. by Beth Peck.  Eerdmans, 2005.  Gr. 4-7
French composer Olivier Messiaen was allowed to continue to write after he was taken to a prison camp by Germans in World War II. He composed “Quartet for the End of Time” and performed it with three other prisoners in a concert attended by 5000 prisoners.

Burleigh, Robert.  Lookin’ for Bird in the Big City.  Illus. by Marek Los.  Harcourt, 2001.  Gr. 2-4
Fictionalized account of Miles Davis’ trip to New York City as a teenager to meet his idol Charlie “Bird” Parker.

Bustard, Anne.  Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly.  Illus. Kurt Cyrus.  Simon & Schuster, 2005.  Gr. 1-4
Folksy vernacular describes Buddy Holly’s path to recording stardom from his early influences to his success with the Crickets. An afterword provides more details of his life.

Celenza, Anna Harwell.  Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.  Illus. by JoAnn E. Kitchel.  Charlesbridge, 2006.
Gr. 2-5
An audio CD accompanies this story about the writing of Gershwin’s classic song.

Christensen, Bonnie.  Django: World’s Greatest Jazz Guitarist.  Roaring Brook, 2009.  Gr. 2-5
Jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt grew up around lively music and dancing in a gypsy encampment. He was making a name for himself as a performer in Paris when his hands were severely burned in a fire and it appeared that he'd never play again. Through agony and gritty determination, Django finds a way to play the guitar. Lush oil paintings reflect the varying moods in this inspirational story.

Christensen, Bonnie.  Woody Guthrie: Poet of the People.  Knopf, 2001.  Gr. 2-5
Illustrated profile of the songwriter’s life and work, including how the issues of the time influenced his music.

Christensen, Bonnie.  Elvis: The Story of the Rock and Roll King.  Henry Holt, 2015.  Gr. 2-4
Beginning with Elvis's humble beginnings and ending with the playing of his first recording on the radio and his first performance, this lyrical, almost poetic text, deals with the influence that all types of music had on Elvis, a shy boy who lived in poverty, made fun of by other children. The book is organized in a bit of a timeline, but there is a more extensive timeline in the back with an author's note that discusses his accomplishments. Thanks to YouTube, today's readers have the opportunity to find out what made Elvis a "King."

Costanza, Stephen.  Mozart Finds a Melody.  Henry Holt, 2004.  Gr. K-3
Paintings that provide detailed glimpses of Vienna illustrate this fictionalized version of how Mozart came to compose his “Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major” after the escape of his pet starling leads him to the sounds of the street.

Freedman, Russell.  The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights.  Clarion, 2004.  Gr. 5-9
Inspirational biography of Marian Anderson from the time of her childhood until she gives her historic 1939 performance at the Lincoln Memorial. Excellent use of archival materials and source notes.

George-Warren, Holly.  Honky-Tonk Heroes & Hillbilly Angels: The Pioneers of Country & Western Music.  Illus. by Laura Levine.  Houghton Mifflin, 2006.  Gr. 4-6
Text chronicles the evolution of country and western music through short biographies of its biggest stars. Folk art illustrations accompany discussions of their personal histories and accomplishments.

George-Warren, Holly.  Shake, Rattle & Roll: The Founders of Rock & Roll.  Illus. by Laura Levine. Houghton Mifflin, 2001.  Gr. 4-6
The roots of rock and roll through biographies of 14 of its best known originators are told in this collective illustrated volume. Their musical backgrounds, highlights of their careers, and personal and physical characteristics are included in the short biographies.

Golio, Gary.  Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix.  Illus. by Javaka Steptoe.
Clarion, 2010.  Gr. 4-7
Impressionistic mixed media illustrations in vivid colors combine with a lyrical descriptive text to paint a portrait of the brilliant guitarist Jimi Hendrix. The story begins with his childhood and follows his rise to fame. An accompanying author's note offers more information and tells of his early death. A stunning introduction to readers who have heard Jimi's music and want to know something about him.

Golio, Gary.  Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane's Musical Journey.  Illus. by Rudy Gutierrez. Clarion, 2012.
Gr. 5-8
Lengthy for a picture book text and illustrated with powerful art that places realistic images against an abstract backdrop, this biography deals with the complexity of Coltrane's life from a childhood laced with tragedy through a troubled manhood plagued with drug addiction. Underlying Coltrane's story is the influence of his distinctive music.

Gourse, Leslie.  Sophisticated Ladies: The Great Women of Jazz.  Illus. by Martin French.  Dutton, 2007.
Gr. 6 & above
The backgrounds and careers of 14 women from the time of Bessie Smith to present day are highlighted in this collective biography. The good times as well as the bad times of their lives are included. Particularly useful are the descriptions of their singing styles.

Hill, Laban Carrick.  When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop.  Illus. by Theodore Taylor III.  Roaring Brook, 2013.  Gr. 3-5
Picture book biography of Jamaican-born Clive Campbell who adopted the name "Kool Herc" and DJ'd parties in the south Bronx, NY. He stacked musical breaks on top of one another, creating longer stretches for dancing while he called out names of friends. He called the dances the kids were doing "break-dancing." Large colorful illustrations reflect the vibrancy of the music. This book is a good introduction to one who is considered a pioneer of hip-hop music.

Hopkinson, Deborah.  Home on the Range: John A. Lomax and His Cowboy Songs.  Illus. by S.D. Schindler.  Putnam, 2009.  Gr. 1-4
John Lomax spent his childhood on a Texas ranch listening to cowboys sing. This early love for music led to his becoming an extraordinary collector and recorder of folk songs. Line and wash illustrations provide a pleasing background for his song hunting. Back matter includes additional detail and information about the archival collection of folk songs at the Library of Congress.

Ingalls, Ann & Macdonald, Maryann.  The Little Piano Girl: The Story of Mary Lou Williams, Jazz Legend.
Illus. by Giselle Potter.  Houghton Mifflin, 2010.  Gr. 2-4
From the age of three, Mary amazes the adults around her with her extraordinary talent. Only the final two pages show Mary performing as an adult, but an Afterword offers details about her accomplishments in the world of jazz. Gouache paintings with a folk-art look and highly descriptive language reflect the enthusiasm of onlookers for Mary's music.

Krull, Kathleen & Brewer, Paul.  The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny).  Illus. by Stacy Innerst.
Harcourt, 2013.  Gr. 3-5
It's hard to fit something as big as the Beatles phenomenon into a picture book, but Krull and Brewer provide a fine introduction to the Fab Four by focusing on their humor and carefree spirit. They tell the story of their rise to fame and of the legions of screaming fans who followed their music, dropping in anecdotes and quotes that indicate they did their research. The acrylic paintings provide small details that add humor, and the caricatures of John, Paul, George, and Ringo are spot on.

Krull, Kathleen.  Lives of the Musicians: Good Times, Bad Times (And What the Neighbors Thought).
Illus. by Kathryn Hewitt.  Harcourt, 1993.  Gr. 4-8
Enjoyable as well as informative biographical sketches of 16 greats in the field of music. Essentials of their lives plus bits of trivia are included.

Lester, Julius.  The Blues Singers: Ten Who Rocked the World.  Illus. by Lisa Cohen.  Hyperion, 2001.
Gr. 4-8
The author devotes three pages to each of his subjects, providing important details about their lives and their influence in music. Full page stylized illustrations and quotes add to the appeal.

Lewis, J. Patrick.  Black Cat Bone: The Life of Blues Legend Robert Johnson.  Illus. by Gary Kelley.  Creative Editions, 2006.  Gr. 6 & above
Striking paintings capture the emotion in this picture book biography for older readers about blues musician Robert Johnson. Lewis’s verse is as evocative as Johnson’s music, and the biographical sentence at the bottom of each poem explains the significance of the event depicted. Sophisticated reading.

Littlesugar, Amy.  Shake Rag: From the Life of Elvis Presley.  Illus. by Floyd Cooper.  Philomel, 1998.
Gr. 1-4
Muted oil-wash illustrations complement this story of Elvis Presley from his lonely, poverty-ridden childhood to his rise as the “King of Rock and Roll.”

Lord, Michelle.  A Song for Cambodia.  Illus. by Shino Arihara.  Lee & Low, 2008.  Gr. 3-6
Story of Arn Chord-Pond who was separated from his family and sent to a work camp after soldiers from the Khmer Rouge came to his village in 1975. He learns to play the khim, a traditional Cambodian stringed instrument, which enriches his life as a young man and throughout his adult life.

Nelson, Marilyn.  Sweethearts of Rhythm: The Story of the Greatest All-Girl Swing Band in the World.
Illus. by Jerry Pinkney.  Dial, 2009.  Gr. 5 & above
A collection of old musical instruments in a New Orleans pawn shop reminisce about the “gals” that comprised the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, an integrated all-girl band that performed in the U.S. during and after World War II. Watercolor and collage illustrations alternate between single pages depicting the Swing Era and double-paged spreads of the times, including the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression, World War II, Japanese internment camps, and Jim Crow.

Nichol, Barbara.  Beethoven Lives Upstairs.  Illus. by Scott Cameron.  Orchard, 1993.  Gr. 3-5
Actual incidents from the life of Beethoven are woven into this fictional correspondence between a 10-year-old boy and his uncle, a music student in Salzburg.

Novesky, Amy.  Mister and Lady Day: Billie Holliday and the Dog Who Loved Her.  Illus. by Vanessa Brantley Newton.  Harcourt, 2013.  Gr. 2-4
The text introduces the jazz legend in a way that will have appeal to younger readers...through her affection for her many pet dogs, in particular, her boxer Mister who wore a mink coat and attended her performances. Large colorful illustrations reflect the glamour in her life and add touches of humor related to her dogs. The appended biographical note mentions the difficulties in Holliday's life, including her drug addiction and subsequent arrest, which is dealt with in the text as a time when Mister could not accompany her.

Orgill, Roxanne.  Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald.  Illus. by Sean Qualls.  Candlewick, 2010.  Gr. 3-5
Lively text and jazzy artwork pay tribute to legend Ella Fitzgerald, beginning with her very difficult young life singing for money on the streets to her introduction into a Harlem band in her early 20s. Bits of her famous songs are woven into the narrative. Rich illustrations match the story. Ample back matter provides additional information.

Orgill, Roxanne.  If I Only Had a Horn: Young Louis Armstrong.  Illus. by Leonard Jenkins.  Houghton Mifflin, 1997.  Gr. 1-3
When Louis finds himself in the Colored Waif’s Home after firing a gun into the air, a mentor makes him learn rhythm on a drum and practice with an old bugle before he gives him a cornet. The rest is up to Louis himself.

Parker, Robert Andrew.  Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum.  Schwartz & Wade/Random House, 2008.  Gr. 1-4
Although they may not have heard of Art Tatum, young readers will appreciate this first-person narrative of the nearly blind young man who becomes a piano virtuoso.

Partridge, Elizabeth.  This Land Was Made for You and Me: The Life and Songs of Woody Guthrie.  Viking, 2002.  Gr. 6 & above
Outstanding, well-researched biography of the creative musical genius who used history (the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, migrant workers, and World War II) to shape his music.

Partridge, Elizabeth.  John Lennon: All I Want is the Truth.  Viking, 2005.  Gr. 9-12
Relying on Lennon’s own writings and interviews, the author has created an honest depiction of this influential musician. Superb use of photographs and an excellent bibliography.

Pinkney, Andrea Davis.  Duke Ellington.  Illus. by Brian Pinkney.  Hyperion, 1998.  Gr. 2-5
Jazzy writing and beautiful scratchboard illustrations describe the life of the musical legend from his childhood to stardom.

Pinkney, Andrea Davis.  Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa.  Illus. by Brian Pinkney.  Jump at the Sun/Hyperion, 2004.  Gr. 2-5
A cat named Scat Cat Monroe tells the story of the “Queen of Scat” in four “tracks” of her life. Lively writing and colorful scratchboard spreads evoke Fitzgerald’s energy.

Rappaport, Doreen.  John’s Secret Dreams: The Life of John Lennon.  Illus. by Bryan Collier.  Hyperion, 2004.  Gr. 4-8
Free verse text, song lyrics, and bold collage and watercolor art trace Lennon’s life from his childhood to his death, representing him as a man of considerable talent and worthwhile dreams.

Raschka, Chris.  Charlie Parker Played Be Bop.  Scholastic, 1992.  Gr. K-3
A bluesy text, quirky illustrations, and a design that experiments with type faces introduces readers to the “sound” of jazz musician Charlie “Bird” Parker.

Reich, Susanna.  Fab Four Friends: The Boys Who Became the Beatles.  Illus. by Adam Gustavson.  Henry Holt, 2015.  Gr. 3-5
This homage to the greatest band of all time explores the childhoods individually of John, Paul, George, and Ringo, all of which included an early interest in playing music. John started the Quarrymen, the band Paul and George eventually joined that evolved into the Beatles. By the time they were performing at the Cavern in Liverpool, they added Ringo. Thus began the phenomenon that has lasted 50 years. The illustrator effectively captures the likenesses and personalities of each Beatle. A glossary defines musical terms and "British-isms" used in the text. Well-documented with source notes and an extensive bibliography. Break out the CDs to accompany the reading of this book!

Reich, Susanna.  Clara Schumann: Piano Virtuoso.  Clarion, 1999.  Gr. 5-8
A well-researched biography illuminated with many primary source documents provides a compelling portrait of the child prodigy who became an accomplished composer and performer.

Roth, Susan L.  Do Re Mi: If You Can Read Music, Thank Guido d’Arezzo.  Houghton Mifflin, 2006.  Gr. 2-5
This fictionalized biography of the 11th century monk tells the story of d’Arezzo’s boyhood in a choir to his eventual achievement of creating a system of music notation.

Rusch, Elizabeth.  For the Love of Music: The Remarkable Story of Maria Anna Mozart.  Illus. by Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher.  Tricycle Press, 2011.  Gr. 2-5
In a format organized like a piano sonata, this picture book biography depicts Maria as an accomplished pianist who shared fame with her younger brother Wolfgang during their childhood. However, her adult years saw her fade into the background as her brother became famous. Appended note contains excellent detail.

Ryan, Pam Muñoz.  When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson.  Illus. by Brian Selznick. Scholastic, 2002.  Gr. 2-5
Striking paintings in a beautifully designed presentation traces the life of Anderson from her childhood in the church choir, through her years of struggle with racism, to her achievement as one the most extraordinary singers in the world.

Schroeder, Alan.  Satchmo’s Blues.  Illus. by Floyd Cooper.  Doubleday, 1996.  Gr. 2-5
This fictionalized biography suggests that Louis Armstrong worked at many jobs to earn the five dollars needed to purchase the cornet he spied in a pawn shop window (which is different from If I Only Had a Horn which indicates that he acquired the horn in a children’s home).

Seven, John.  Frankie Liked to Sing.  Illus. by Jana Christy.  Abrams, 2015.  Gr. 2-4
In this fairly easy to read overview of Frank Sinatra's life, beginning with his childhood, readers learn that "Frankie was always singing"…along with the radio, in saloons for nickels, at his mom's parties, at school, at jobs, everywhere. After it seemed like everyone in Hoboken, New Jersey, had heard him sing, Frankie went to New York. When he got to sing on the radio, his career took off. Records, movies, awards, followed. A substantial Author's Note illuminates the story with additional facts.

Sís, Peter.  Play, Mozart, Play!  HarperCollins, 2006.  Gr. K-3
The simple text focuses on Mozart’s childhood and his performances in the great courts of Europe. Tiny illustrations on a map show the locations of Mozart’s concert tours.

Stanley, Diane.  Mozart, the Wonder Child: A Puppet Play in Three Acts.  Collins, 2009.  Gr. 3-5
In a text that divides childhood prodigy Mozart’s life into three acts, the author portrays the characters as marionettes through stunning illustrations.

Stauffacher, Sue.  Bessie Smith and the Night Riders.  Illus. by John Holyfield.  Putnam, 2006.  Gr. 3-5
Told from the viewpoint of a little girl who peeks through the tent flaps to see the famous blues singer, readers learn a fictionalized account of an incident in which Smith scares off a group of Ku Klux Klan members threatening her.

Troupe, Quincy.  Little Stevie Wonder.  Illus. by Lisa Cohen.  Houghton Mifflin, 2005.  Gr. 2-5
An audio CD containing two of Wonder’s songs accompanies this upbeat biography of the musician who lost his sight shortly after birth. Splashy acrylic illustrations jive with the finger-snappin’ text.

Watson, Renee.  Harlem's Little Blackbird.  Illus. by Christian Robinson.  Random House, 2012.  Gr. 1-4
This picture book biography follows the life of Florence Mills, the daughter of slaves who became a star as a singer. The victim of considerable racism, Mills championed the rights of African American talent, even turning down the opportunity to become the first black woman to perform in the Ziegfeld Follies. The illustrations capture the liveliness of the text.

Weatherford, Carole Boston.  Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane.  Illus. by Sean Qualls. Henry Holt, 2008.  Gr. 1-3
This picture book biography of the legendary John Coltrane’s childhood years details the influence of sound on his life…so much so that he picked up a saxophone and created his own sound. Superb word choice that has its own rhythm.

Weatherford, Carole Boston.  Becoming Billie Holiday.  Illus. by Floyd Cooper.  Boyds Mills/Wordsong, 2008.  Gr. 8 & above
Nearly 100 first person poems illuminate the life of the singer from birth until the debut of her signature song, “Strange Fruit,” at age 25. Nostalgic illustrations that resemble antique photographs add to the emotion of the poems. Harsh topics. Captivating book.

Weatherford, Carole Boston.  Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century.  Illus. by Raul Colón.  Knopf, 2014.
Gr. 2-5
Lyrical text and vibrant watercolor and pencil illustrations highlight the life of the world-famous opera singer. As a child in the Mississippi delta region, Leontyne listened to opera on the radio and followed the career of Marian Anderson. Although she had supportive parents, she never thought she would have opportunities to achieve her goals .However, perseverance and the ability to overcome obstacles in her way eventually led her to the Metropolitan Opera and to Broadway. Beautiful to look at and inspiring book.

Winter, Jeanette.  Sebastian: A Book about Bach.  Harcourt, 1999.  Gr. 1-3
Folk art illustrations and a spare text relate how musical compositions dominated Bach’s life and how he had the ability to hear a different melody for each instrument. Although details about his life are limited, readers will understand his importance to the world of music.

Winter, Jonah.  Dizzy.  Illus. by Sean Qualls.  Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, 2006.  Gr. 2-5
Rhythmic text and lively illustrations that swing and sway across the pages introduce readers to Dizzy Gillespie from the time he received his first trumpet to his successful career as a jazz musician.

Winter, Jonah.  Once Upon a Time in Chicago: The Story of Benny Goodman.  Illus. by Jeanette Winter. Hyperion, 2000.  Gr. 1-4
Benny Goodman was given his first clarinet when he was in fourth grade, and the rest is music history in this picture book tribute to the “King of Swing.”

Younger, Barbara.  Purple Mountain Majesties: The Story of Katharine Lee Bates and “America the Beautiful.”  Illus. by Stacey Schuett.  Dutton, 1998.  Gr. 2-4
The origins of the famous song are revealed in this picture book biography of its lyricist, who was inspired to write it after seeing the stunning scenery of Colorado. Full color paintings enhance the story.

Song picture books (meant to be enjoyed by All Ages)
The repeated language patterns in many of the song picture books make them ideal for emergent readers.
Ajhar, Brian (Illus.).  Home On the Range.  Dial, 2004.
Bates, Katharine Lee.  America the Beautiful.  Illus. by Chris Gall.  Little, Brown, 2004.
Bates, Katharine Lee.  America the Beautiful.  Illus. by Wendell Minor.  Putnam, 2003.
Bates, Katharine Lee.  America the Beautiful.  Illus. by Neil Waldman.  Atheneum, 1993.
Berlin, Irving.  God Bless America.  Illus. by Lynn Munsinger.  HarperCollins, 2002.
Birdseye, Tom & Birdseye, Debbie.  She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain.  Illus. by Andrew Glass.  Holiday House, 1994.
Bryan, Ashley (Illus.).  Let It Shine: Three Favorite Spirituals.  Atheneum, 2007.
Includes “This Little Light of Mine,” “Oh, When the Saints Go Marching In,” and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”
Carle, Eric.  Today Is Monday.  Philomel, 1993.
Cohan, George M.  You’re a Grand Old Flag.  Illus. by Norman Rockwell.  Atheneum, 2008.
Cooper, Floyd (Illus.).  Cumbayah.  HarperCollins, 1998.
Denver, John.  Sunshine on My Shoulders.  Illus. & adapted by Christopher Canyon.  Dawn Publ., 2003.
Denver, John.  Grandma’s Feather Bed.  Illus. & adapted by Christopher Canyon.  Dawn Publ., 2007.
Denver, John.  Take Me Home, Country Roads.  Illus. & adapted by Christopher Canyon.  Dawn Publ., 2005.
Frazee, Marla.  Hush, Little Baby: A Folk Song with Pictures.  Harcourt, 1999.
Guthrie, Woody.  This Land Is Your Land.  Illus. by Kathy Jakobsen.  Little, Brown, 1998.
Hamanaka, Sheila (Illus.).  The Hokey Pokey.  Simon & Schuster, 1997.
Hillenbrand, Will (Illus.).  Down by the Station.  Harcourt, 1999.
Hillenbrand, Will (Illus.).  Fiddle-I-Fee.  Harcourt, 2002.
Hoose, Phillip M. & Hoose, Hannah.  Hey, Little Ant.  Illus. by Debbie Tilley.  Tricycle Press, 1998.
Johnson, Paul Brett (Adapted & Illus.)  On Top of Spaghetti.  Scholastic, 2006.
Keats, Ezra Jack (Illus.).  Over in the Meadow.  Viking, 1999.
Kellogg, Steven (Illus.).  Yankee Doodle.  Simon & Schuster, 1996.
Kellogg, Steven (Illus.).  A-Hunting We Will Go!  HarperCollins, 1998.
Kennedy, Jimmy.  The Teddy Bears’ Picnic.  Illus. by Alexandra Day.  Simon & Schuster, 1991.
Lewis, E.B. (Illus.).  This Little Light of Mine.  Simon & Schuster, 2005.
Long, Sylvia.  Hush Little Baby.  Chronicle, 1997.
Long, Sylvia (Illus.).  Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.  Chronicle, 2001.
Miller, J. Philip & Greene, Sheppard M.  We All Sing with the Same Voice.  Illus. by Paul Meisel.  HarperCollins, 2000.
Nelson, Kadir.  He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.  Dial, 2005.
Penner, Fred.  Whole World.  Illus. by Christopher Corr.  Barefoot, 2007.
Pinkney, Brian.  Hush, Little Baby.  Amistad, 2005.
Plume, Ilse (Illus.).  The Farmer in the Dell.  Godine, 2004.
Raffi.  Baby Beluga.  Knopf, 1990.  Other Raffi titles to read and sing: Down by the Bay; Wheels on the Bus; Five Little Ducks; Shake My Sillies Out; If You’re Happy and You Know It; Spider on the Floor; This Little Light of Mine; Everything Grows
Rodgers, Richard & Hammerstein, Oscar.  My Favorite Things.  Illus. by Renee Graef.  HarperCollins, 2001.
Rounds, Glen (Illus.).  I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.  Holiday House, 1990.
Saport, Linda (Illus.)  All the Pretty Little Horses.  Clarion, 1999.
Seeger, Pete.  Turn! Turn! Turn!  Illus. by Wendy Anderson Halperin.  Simon & Schuster, 2003.
Seskin, Steve & Shamblin, Allen.  Don’t Laugh at Me.  Illus. by Glin Dibley.  Tricycle Press, 2002.
Smith, Will.  Just the Two of Us.  Illus. by Kadir Nelson.  Scholastic, 2001.
Sturges, Philemon.  She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain.  Illus. by Ashley Wolff.  Little, Brown, 2004.
Taback, Simms.  There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.  Viking, 1997.
Trapani, Iza (told & illus.).  Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?  Charlesbridge, 1995.  Others in the series: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star; I’m a Little Teapot; Row, Row, Row Your Boat; Shoo Fly!; How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?; Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush; Froggie Went A-Courtin’; Mary Had a Little Lamb; The Itsy Bitsy Spider
Warhola, James.  If You’re Happy and You Know It.  Orchard, 2007.
Weiss, George David & Thiele, Bob.  What a Wonderful World.  Illus. by Ashley Bryan.  Atheneum, 1995.
Winter, Jeanette.  Follow the Drinking Gourd.  Knopf, 2008. (reissue)
Yarrow, Peter & Lipton, Lenny.  Puff, the Magic Dragon.  Illus. by Eric Puybaret.  Sterling, 2007.
Zelinsky, Paul O.  The Wheels on the Bus.  Dutton, 1990. (paper engineered with tabs to pull and parts to move)
Zelinsky, Paul O.  Knick Knack Paddywhack.  Dutton, 2002. (moving parts)

Song collections (a selection)
Edens, Cooper (Comp.).  The Glorious American Songbook.  Chronicle, 2005.
Illustrated with works of art.
Fox, Dan.  A Treasury of Children’s Songs: Forty Favorites to Sing and Play.  Henry Holt, 2003.
Illustrated with art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. An abridgement of Go in and Out the Window (1987)
Jacobs, Paul Dubois & Swender, Jennifer.  Children’s Songbag.  Gibbs Davis, 2005.
Kirk, Daniel.  Songs That Go!  Hyperion, 2001.
Words and music to 23 songs about various types of transportation.
Krull, Kathleen (Coll.).  Gonna Sing My Head Off!: American Folk Songs for Children.  Illus. by Allen Garns. Knopf, 1992.
Orozco, José-Luis.  Fiestas: Holiday Songs from Latin America.  Illus. by Elisa Kleven. Dutton, 2002.
Orozco, José-Luis.  De Colores and Other Latin American Folk Songs for Children.  Illus. by Elisa Kleven. Dutton, 1994.

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