What’s better than a rhyming picture book that carries you along with a momentum that makes you eager to turn the page? A musical picture book! The titles on this list are all based on favorite songs. Pairing gorgeous artwork with lyrics like “Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof” and “One Love! One Heart!
Let’s get together and feel all right,” these books expand songs into highly visual experiences that will have kids humming to read them again and again. I dare you not to sing along!
Happy, by Pharrell
With his huge hats and loopy references to the metaphysical, Pharrell can be a little ridiculous, but he’s also a modern genius and 100% crushworthy, I mean role-model worthy. Hungry for a little clapping? This ditty is still as infectious as it was in 2013, when it was the song of the summer. Translated into a book, the lyrics are paired with photographs of sassy kids rocking out to life. (And if you’re rocking a Pharrell-hat-sized crush as your kids fall in love with this hit song, we won’t tell!)
He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, by Kadir Nelson
Turning songs into books isn’t a new idea, and this one features a song that has soothed adults and children for generations. Cover to cover, Nelson’s art positively glows. The illustrations highlight our connection to nature and celebrate the beauty of the world from the perspective of a young child.
Knick Knack Paddy Whack, by Christiane Engel
This version of the traditional song is a great way to introduce your kids to a variety of instruments, as well as practice counting! There’s a strong beat to carry young readers along, and you may find yourself turning your couch cushions and TV remote into an impromptu drum set. (Maracas not included.)
Day Is Done, by Peter Yarrow and Melissa Sweet
Melissa Sweet’s illustrations in this book feature her signature saturated color palette and fascinating collages, and pair beautifully with Yarrow’s lovely folk song. The texture adds to the lyrics, which reassure readers that “All will be well when the day is done.” This edition of the book features a CD, so you can learn this perfect bedtime melody with ease.
Goodnight Songs, by Margaret Wise Brown
When editors discovered that the author of Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny had a treasure trove of song lyrics hidden away in her attic, they swooned, and this charming book makes it clear why. Each song is paired with an illustrator who feels like just the right fit for that song. With titles like “Sleep Like a Rabbit” and “When I Close My Eyes at Night,” these songs are perfect for winding down. The enclosed CD will make learning these gems a pleasure.
One Love, by Bob Marley, Cedella Marley, and Vanessa Newton
Tell me you don’t hear this song playing in your head the second you hear the words “One love!” It’s impossible not to follow up with “One heart! Let’s get together and feel all right!” Telling the story of a girl and her friends, family and neighbors working together to change their community, this book is a beautiful homage to the spirit of the original song.
What a Wonderful World, by George David Weiss, Bob Thiele, and Ashley Bryan
The rainbow colors and joyful images in the illustrated version of this feel-good song, make this book a fun way to introduce kids to jazz. When the great Louis Armstrong makes an appearance with his trumpet, you and your kids will be left smiling and ready to celebrate his work with your own mini jazz fest at home.
What picture books do you love to sing along with?