Top Kids’ Books to Inspire a Love for Music

Music soothes the savage beast…or the cranky toddler. Kids love music, and books about music are a great way to explore this love differently. Here is a list of musical books you can enjoy with kids of all ages.


Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin by Lloyd Moss is a classic that was featured on Reading Rainbow and was a Caldecott Honor Book. The rhyming musical text follows a group of musicians as they come together, instrument by instrument. As a bonus, this book also works on counting as each instrument is added to the group. The illustrations are colorful and flowing, and the characters are quirky and will make kids laugh.


Olivia, the irrepressible pig, is one of the best characters in children’s literature. Sadly, author Ian Falconer passed away recently, but you can remember him and his ability to capture childhood by reading Olivia Forms a Band. In it, Olivia and her family are going to see fireworks, but when Olivia hears there won’t be a band she decides to form one herself. She forms all parts of the band herself.


88 Instruments by Chris Barton follows a kid who goes to a music shop with his parents. At first, he finds it hard to choose just ONE instrument to learn. In the end, he picks the instrument that gives him 88 keys to master and learn.


A little girl goes to hear a symphony by Franz Schubert, discovers a love for music and goes on to become a musician herself in Because by Mo Willems. It’s a simple story that is told beautifully by following a series of events showing how each person involved is part of creating the music and also inspires others. Willems includes musicians but also the aunt who takes the little girl, the symphony librarian, the ushers in the theater, and even the uncle who had a cold and couldn’t go to the concert so the little girl got to go.


The Philharmonic Gets Dressed by Karla Kuskin is a very straightforward book that follows one hundred and five people getting ready for work. The people, of course, are all part of the Philharmonic. Kuskin clearly understands that young kids often like to hear lots of details so she shows all the different ways that people get ready (bathing, putting on socks, putting on different kinds of underwear, putting on jewelry, picking up different kinds of cases, etc.). Kids will also enjoy looking closely at the pencil and watercolor sketches and seeing all the details.


In The Oboe Goes Boom Boom Boom Colleen AF Venable takes a different but fun approach to teaching kids about instruments. A band director describes different kinds of instruments to a group of kids to help them choose what to play. On every other page layout, the director describes an instrument and the page ends with “the clarinet (or oboe) goes…”. Then as you turn the page you see “Boom, Boom, Boom” as a little girl named Felicity comes in playing a huge drum. Invariably kids will yell Boom Boom Boom each time Felicity enters. And they might learn about the other instruments along the way. As a bonus, all the kids in the band are based on real musicians, and the author/illustrators include small blurbs about each one.


There are many fantastic picture book biographies of musicians. Two relatively new ones are Trombone Shorty by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews himself and When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill. The first is the story of Andrews who grew up in New Orleans and has gone on to be a Grammy-nominated jazz trombonist. The book was a Caldecott Honor Book and is beautifully illustrated by Bryan Collier. When the Beat Was Born tells the story of Jamaican-born DJ Kool Herc who is credited with developing hip hop in the Bronx in the 1970s.