Musical Picture Books

WH Musical Picture Books

Music has always been more than just sound- it can share emotion, represent culture, and connect communities. For children, research proves that music education is especially helpful for their development. From language learning and spatial-temporal skills to increased IQ and testing scores, music activates neural activity that can improve sound discrimination and fine motor tasks ( 

While the practice routine needed to properly learn an instrument doesn't inspire most children, it can be much more engaging to share with them the diversity of sound and deeper meanings that music can impart. To support their growth, our district holds music and movement programs throughout the branches, a CD collection for children, and a bountiful collection of books about music.

Find your closest branch with our Music & Movement programs in our event calendar.

Check out these picture books about music:

The Dam

David Almond

A haunting, stunningly illustrated story of loss, hope, and the power of music from multi-award winners David Almond and Levi Pinfold.

Kielder Water is a wild and beautiful place, rich in folk music and legend. Years ago, before a great dam was built to fill the valley with water, there were farms and homesteads in that valley and musicians who livened their rooms with song. After the village was abandoned and before the waters rushed in, a father and daughter returned there. The girl began to play her fiddle, bringing her tune to one empty house after another — for this was the last time that music would be heard in that place. With exquisite artwork by Levi Pinfold, David Almond’s lyrical narrative — inspired by a true tale — pays homage to his friends Mike and Kathryn Tickell and all the musicians of Northumberland, to show that music is ancient and unstoppable, and that dams and lakes cannot overwhelm it.

Access the e-book here.

Trombone Shorty

Troy Andrews

The Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award-winning picture book biography from Grammy-nominated musician Troy 'trombone Shorty' Andrews and celebrated illustrator Bryan Collier
'Who's that playing out there?' Bo Diddley asked the New Orleans crowd. It was a small child who'd been nicknamed 'trombone Shorty' because his trombone was twice as large as he was. Trombone Shorty was lifted in the air and carried through the audience until he reached the stage with Bo Diddley. He has been onstage ever since.
Hailing from the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans, where music always floated in the air, Troy 'trombone Shorty' Andrews didn't always have the money to buy an instrument, but he did have the dream to play music. This is the story of how he made his dream take flight.

Access the eBook and audiobook.

Welcome to the Cypher

Khodi Dill

Khodi Dill invites readers to enter the cypher, "that great circle of rap, spanning every street corner, every inch of the map," and find their voices and let them flow as the rap beat brings their truths to the world.

Starting with beatboxes and fingersnaps, an exuberant narrator introduces kids in his community to the powerful possibilities of rap, from turning “a simple phrase/into imagery that soars” to proclaiming, “this is a voice that represents me!” As Dill’s rhymes heat up, the diverse crew of kids—illustrated in Awuradwoa Afful’s bold, energetic style—gain self-confidence and a sense of freedom in this wonderful picture book debut that is perfect for reading aloud. 

The Drum Dream Girl: how one girl's courage changed music

Margarita Engle

Girls cannot be drummers. Long ago on an island filled with music, no one questioned that rule—until the drum dream girl.

In her city of drumbeats, she dreamed of pounding tall congas and tapping small bongós. She had to keep quiet. She had to practice in secret. But when at last her dream-bright music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream.

Inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba's traditional taboo against female drummers, Drum Dream Girl tells an inspiring true story for dreamers everywhere.

Access the eBook, audiobook, and DVD.

Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem

Amanda Gorman

In this stirring, much-anticipated picture book by presidential inaugural poet and activist Amanda Gorman, anything is possible when our voices join together. As a young girl leads a cast of characters on a musical journey, they learn that they have the power to make changes—big or small—in the world, in their communities, and in most importantly, in themselves. 
With lyrical text and rhythmic illustrations that build to a dazzling crescendo by #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator Loren Long, Change Sings is a triumphant call to action for everyone to use their abilities to make a difference.

Access the audiobook.

Summer Moonlight Concert

Han Han

Xiaomi will never forget the magical sounds she heard one hot summer evening when the power went out in her family's apartment building. It happened at day's end while her parents were preparing dinner. Her father lit candles while suggesting they take out their musical instruments and descend to the yard to perform for their neighbors. He played the ehru and her mother the accordion while she danced. The songs made their way into each home, and soon, everyone joined in the concert, laughing and singing under the moonlight: a joyful, music celebration that brought them together.

The picture book is accompanied with an 8-minute CD of the narrated story and the theme song.

The Rapping Princess

Hannah Lee

A completely original rhyming picture book that celebrates daring to be different, featuring Shiloh, the rapping princess. Shiloh might not be able to sing like her sisters, but she has other talents, and sometimes it's about embracing your differences and celebrating them!


Susan Lendroth

When Natsumi's family practices for their town's Japanese arts festival, Natsumi tries everything. But her stirring is way too vigorous for the tea ceremony, her dancing is just too imaginative, and flower arranging doesn't go any better. Can she find just the right way to put her exuberance to good use?

Natsumi is small but full of big exuberance- her big personality is too much for her family's quieter traditions until her grandfather introduces her to taiko drumming.

The Key from Spain: Flory Jagoda and Her Music

Debbie Levy

Discover the story of Ladino singer Flory Jagoda.

When Flory's ancestors are forced to leave Spain during the time of the Spanish Inquisition, they take with them their two most precious possessions—the key to their old house and the Ladino language. When Flory flees Europe during World War II to begin a new life in the United States, she carries Ladino with her, along with her other precious possessions—her harmoniku and her music. But what of the key?

Calling the Water Drum

LaTisha Redding

A young boy loses both parents as they attempt to flee Haiti for a better life, and afterward is only able to process his grief and communicate with the outside world through playing the drums.

¡Mambo Mucho Mambo! The Dance That Crossed Color Lines.

Dean Robbins

Millie danced to jazz in her Italian neighborhood. Pedro danced to Latin songs in his Puerto Rican neighborhood. It was the 1940s in New York City, and they were forbidden to dance together . . . until first a band and then a ballroom broke the rules. Machito and His Afro-Cubans hit the scene with a brand-new sound, blending jazz trumpets and saxophones with Latin maracas and congas creating Latin jazz, music for the head, the heart, and the hips. Then the Palladium Ballroom issued a bold challenge to segregation and threw open its doors to all.

Leer en español aquí.

Lorraine: the girl who sang the storm away

Ketch Secor

Old Crow Medicine Show founder and Grammy award-winning musician Ketch Secor teams up with Ashley Bryan Award-winning illustrator Higgins Bond to create this sweeping, epic Americana story about the power of music and family.

Lorraine and her Pa Paw spend their days celebrating life with the music of the Tennessee hills. With Pa Paw's harmonica and Lorraine's pennywhistle, the pair can face just about anything. But when a fearsome storm rolls in and their instruments are nowhere to be found, can Lorraine find the music inside herself to get them through?

Access the eBook.

Finding the Music / En pos de la música

Jennifer Torres

A young Latina girl accidentally breaks her grandfather's vihuela and searches for someone in the community to fix the instrument, which leads her to discover her grandfather's legacy as a mariachi.

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin

Chieri Uegaki

Hana has signed up to play the violin at the talent show, even though she's only had three lessons. Her brothers predict disaster. But Hana practices and practices, inspired by her grandfather, or Ojiichan, who played the violin every day when she visited him in Japan. As Hana takes the stage, doubt is all she can hear, until she recalls her grandfather's words of encouragement, and shows the audience how beautiful music can take many forms.

Access the eBook.

Grandma’s Records

Eric Velasquez

Velasquez relates his personal experience as a young boy who spent summers with his grandmother in 1950s Spanish Harlem, where Grandma wrapped me in her world of music." As merengues and salsas played all through the long, hot summer, Grandma would dance and tell Eric about her life in Puerto Rico. One day, Grandma's nephew Sammy, who plays percussion in the best band in Puerto Rico, comes to town for a concert. He surprises Grandma and Eric with tickets to the show. The concert proves to be "a magical moment in time" for Eric, and particularly for Grandma, whose special song, "In My Old San Juan," is sung directly to her.

Descriptions adapted from the publisher.


By Sofia on May 15, 2023