Read to the Rhythm

With International Music Day celebrated on October 1 and World Ballet Day on October 2 this year, this month is the perfect time to celebrate the infinite melodies that fill and shape our world. Everyone loves a good beat, and whether you play, sing, or dance to a song, there is always time for music – even in books! Check out the list below to read about how people throughout the world rejoice in the wonder and power of music.

To find more books about grooving to the rhythm, try searching the catalog using a combination of subject terms like “juvenile fiction” for fiction books or “juvenile literature” for nonfiction books along with “music,” “musician,” “dance,” or a specific type of music, instrument, dance, or person you are interested in. Many nonfiction books about music and dancing can be found in the 780 and 790 call number range.

Andrews, Troy.
Trombone Shorty. 2015 (Biography: Picture Book)
In this picture book autobiography, Troy Andrews shares with readers how he became known as “Trombone Shorty” after learning to play the instrument as a very young boy. Growing up in New Orleans, music was everywhere, and it wasn’t long until Andrews was leading his own band and sharing music of his own. This fun and colorful book is a testament to how you can do anything you put your mind to!
[S-Collection Q. SB. A571an]

Blackaby, Susan & Cicciarelli, Joellyn.
Leo’s Gift. 2017 (Fiction: Picture Book)
Leo doesn’t have that thing that is his thing yet, but he is captivated by the way his sister can play songs just by hitting the piano keys in the right order. But while she would rather play basketball, Leo spends all his time learning to coax music out of the instrument with the help of an invested music teacher. Could this be his gift? Beautifully written with warm illustrations, readers will love to see Leo discover and embrace the way he can bring joy to the world.
[S-Collection Q. SE. B561l]

Bowen, Meurig.
The School of Music. 2017 (Nonfiction)
In this fun, informational, and immersive book, children will explore the basics of music along with a cast of lively musicians that include Sergio Trunk, Diva Venus, Rufus Vibrato, Roxy Mojo, and more. From exploring the different instruments to learning the basics of how music works and making music at home, readers will not want to leave this school! This large-format book is full of engaging pictures, activities, and questions that will make learning as easy as do re mi.
[S-Collection Q. S. 780.9 B6757s]

Copeland, Misty.
Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina. 2016 (Biography: Chapter Book)
With a late start to ballet and family drama that relocated her to various homes and schools, Misty Copeland defied all odds by becoming the first female African-American principal ballerina in the American Ballet Theatre’s history. In this autobiography, Copeland discusses her challenging journey to becoming one of America’s most successful ballerinas. She never gave up on her dreams and has inspired many other dancers to give it their all.
[S-Collection SB. C7826c]

Engle, Margarita.
Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music. 2015 (Fiction: Picture Book – Based on a true story)
Surrounded by music on the island of Cuba, a young girl dreams of being a drummer despite tradition saying that only boys play the drums. Still, she dreams and practices in secret and perseveres until she is able to share her music with everyone. This beautifully illustrated story was inspired by Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, the real-life drum dream girl, and will encourage children to speak out and share their talents.
[S-Collection SE. En35d]

Katz, Nikki.
The Midnight Dance. 2017 (Fiction: Young Adult)
It’s 1879, and Penny is a lead dancer under the Maestro at the Grande Teatro, an elite finishing school secluded in the woods of Italy. However, memories of a very different life start coming back to her and she soon begins to question who she is and what the Maestro is really doing. Penny confides in Cricket, the kitchen boy, and resolves to escape the stifling school and oppressive master before it’s too late.
[S-Collection S. K1595m]

Redgate, Riley.
Noteworthy. 2017 (Fiction: Young Adult)
Jordan Sun is really hoping that junior year will be the year she makes the school musical, but her unusual Alto 2 voice is not an asset in this case. However, a spot in the all-male, a cappella octet called the Sharpshooters has opened up, and Jordan auditions as a boy, hoping that her low voice will help her earn a spot and prove her skills. Once she makes it, she is soon caught between her two identities, where she struggles to make friends and has to decide what it means to be herself.
[S-Collection S. R2478n]

Singer, Marilyn.
Feel the Beat: Dance Poems That Zing from Salsa to Swing. 2017 (Poetry)
Rhythmic and spirited, these poems celebrate the energy and impact of dance! The beat of each poem matches the rhythm of the dance it focuses on and vibrant illustrations add to the experience. A CD is included where the author reads the poems set to matching music, and readers will love learning about all the ways that dance has the power to move people across the world.
[S-Collection Q. S.811 Si64fe]

Singer, Marilyn.
Tallulah’s Tap Shoes. 2015 (Fiction: Picture Book)
Tallulah is a ballet dancer. She loves the beauty and perfection of it, but at dance camp she’ll have to take tap too. Tallulah is NOT excited, and to make it worse, there’s a girl at camp who is a really good tap dancer. Could they have anything in common? In this installment of Tallulah’s dance adventures, readers are sure to empathize with her struggles and rejoice in her discoveries.
[S-Collection Q. SE. Si643tta]

Torres, Jennifer.
Finding the Music: En pos de la música. 2015 (Fiction: Bilingual Picture Book)
This side-by-side bilingual book with Spanish and English text is a beautifully written family story about the power of music to bring people together. In the beginning, Reyna accidentally knocks her grandfather’s vihuela (a guitar-like instrument) off the wall of her mother’s restaurant because customers are being loud while she is trying to read. She goes on a quest to get it fixed before her mom finds out and her journey leads her to appreciate the noise and music of her grandfather’s past as well as her heritage.
[S-Collection S. T6364f]

The Show Must Go On! Actors, Musicians, and Other Creative Folks

In the midst of Hollywood’s award season, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the glitz and glamour of famous stars. Famous actors and actresses walk the red carpet in beautiful designer outfits. Famous musicians put on spectacular shows during Grammy performances, sold-out concerts, and Super Bowl half-time shows. Famous authors and painters might not always get as much time in the limelight, but they still produce entertaining and thoughtful pieces of literature and art. If you’ve ever wondered how these famous people got started, look no further! Browse the list of books below to discover the humble beginnings and fascinating inspirations of some of the world’s greatest artists.

To find more children’s books about famous artists, please use our online catalog and search subject terms similar to “artists” and “juvenile” or “musicians” and “juvenile” in the advanced search boxes. Feel free to use whatever artistic career you’re interested in and see what inspiring books you find in our S-Collection.

Actors and Actresses

Cardillo, Margaret.
Just Being Audrey. 2011.
This enchanting tale features colorful illustrations that truly bring to life the tale of Audrey Hepburn’s journey to fame. With childhood dreams of becoming Europe’s top ballerina, Audrey is faced with a multitude of road blocks that lead her to the world of acting instead. An incredibly delightful read.
[SSHEL S-Collection SB. H5292c]

Michelson, Richard.
Fascinating: The Life of Leonard Nimoy. 2016.
True to its title, this book tells the fascinating life of Leonard Nimoy and his journey to starring in one of the most popular television shows of all time: Star Trek. From a young age, Nimoy loved to perform, but his parents wanted him to set his sights on a more practical career, like becoming a musician. Nimoy never quit on his dream and did everything in his power to reach the stardom he always knew he was capable of achieving.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. N713m]

Yoo, Paula.
Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story. 2009.
An inspiring story of how famous actress Anna May Wong overcame racism and adversity in Hollywood to proudly represent people of Asian descent on film. Disgusted with being cast in stereotypical roles and watching white actors perform in “yellow face,” Anna May Wong moves from California to China to act in roles that respectfully and truthfully represent her culture.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. W84y]


Herkert, Barbara.
Mary Cassatt: Extraordinary Impressionist Painter. 2015.
With simple text and beautiful impressionist-style illustrations, this book dives into the life of Mary Cassatt, a champion for female empowerment in the art world. Overcoming adversity as a woman in the 1800s, Mary proves that anyone can create beautiful, inspiring art.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. C343h]

Rubin, Susan Goldman.
Andy Warhol: Pop Art Painter. 2006.
Full of bold colors, family photographs, and pictures of Andy’s art, this book tells the story of Andy Warhol’s life, from a young boy from Pittsburgh who loved to draw to the wildly famous, eccentric artist who turned a Campbell’s soup can into a world-renowned painting.
[SSHEL S-Collection SB. W275r]

Rubin, Susan Goldman.
Edward Hopper: Painter of Light and Shadow. 2007.
The story of famous artist Edward Hopper’s life and maturation as an artist in the early half of 20th Century America. Each page includes pictures of Hopper’s drawings and paintings, starting from his earliest sketches to his most famous painting, Nighthawks.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. H798r]

Winter, Jonah.
Frida. 2002.
The inspiring story of Frida Khalo’s incredible resilience. After suffering from a bus accident that nearly killed her, Frida endured the constant pain that enveloped her body by escaping through her art. As the daughter of a photographer and painter, Frida learned a love of art from her father and let her imagination lead her life. A simple yet beautiful read.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. S. 759.972 W734f]


Golio, Gary.
When Bob Met Woody: The Story of the Young Bob Dylan. 2011.
A story that proves the truly life-changing effects of folk music. Whenever he felt alone or sad, Bob Dylan channeled his emotions into the music he listened to and performed. Never deterred by his humble beginnings, Bob strove to make his idol, Hank Williams, proud by singing songs about the honest struggles of life. Complete with quotes from Bob and stunning illustrations throughout.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. D996g]

Reich, Susanna.
Fab Four Friends: The Boys Who Became the Beatles. 2015.
With space dedicated to each of the member’s childhoods and backgrounds, this book tells the story of how the Beatles let their shared passion for music change the history of the music scene forever. An incredibly interesting read for anyone who loves these British icons.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. S.782.421660922 R2711f]

Russell-Brown, Katheryn.
Little Melba and Her Big Trombone. 2014.
A bright and colorful tale of Melba Liston’s journey to stardom as a female trombone player. As a little girl, Melba loved jazz music and knew she was meant to play the trombone. She gracefully overcame racist and sexist comments that people directed toward her for being a black woman touring the country in a jazz band. She let her voice be heard through her trombone and played along fellow famous musicians across the world.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. L698r]

Winter, Jonah.
How Jelly Roll Morton Invented Jazz. 2015.
A magical telling of the life and accomplishments of Ferdinand Joseph La Menthe (famously known as Jelly Roll Morton). Complete with song lyrics, a “recipe for jazz,” and an inviting second-person narration, the story of this “father of jazz” is a true delight.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. M889w]


Burleigh, Robert.
Langston’s Train Ride. 2004.
Written in first-person point of view, this beautiful story lets readers enter the mind of a young Langston Hughes as he finds inspiration for his famous poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.” With stunning visual and verbal artistry throughout, this book offers a unique look at this famous poet’s early life and works.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. L285b]

Krull, Kathleen.
Road to Oz: Twists, Turns, Bumps, and Triumphs in the Life of L. Frank Baum. 2008.
A dazzling tale of L. Frank Baum’s life, starting from his golden childhood to the everyday adventures he found as inspiration while writing his best-selling children’s book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. A great story that reminds you to always keep a sense of wonder and a love for adventure.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. B327k]

Landmann, Bimba.
In Search of the Little Prince: The Story of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. 2014.
A lovely telling of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s remarkable life as an adventurous, daring pilot and author. As a young boy, Antoine was fascinated by airplanes and the ability to fly, so he dedicated his life to becoming a pilot. From fighting in both world wars to transporting international mail to writing about his terrific adventures, Antoine lived his life to the absolute fullest.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. S137l]

Wallner, Alexandra.
Beatrix Potter. 1995.
From playing with her family’s pet rabbit, Peter, to becoming England’s self-professed expert on mushrooms, Beatrix surrounded herself with nature and loved to write about and paint her surroundings. As a woman in the late 19th to early 20th Century, however, Beatrix faced a lot of sexist critics who didn’t take her writing seriously. Beatrix was never deterred, however, and she went on to write dozens of delightful children’s stories that are still loved today.
[SSHEL S-Collection SB. P866w]

Music In Our Schools Month


March is Music In Our Schools Month. Sponsored by the National Association for Music Education, MIOSM supports music education advocacy to encourage well-funded school music programs nationwide. Year-round, however, music plays a significant role in the lives of many children and teenagers – both in school and out. The resources in this blog include classroom activities and lesson plans for teachers seeking to integrate music into their curricula, nonfiction books about musicians and instruments for kids seeking information about the world of music, and fiction books about teen musicians for young music-lovers to enjoy.

Lesson Plans and Curricular Connections

Most of these resources provide lesson plans and activities for elementary school teachers seeking to integrate music study and appreciation into classroom activity. To find more resources like these, try looking up the following subject terms in the catalog:

Music — Study and teaching
Music appreciation
Music in education
School music — Instruction and study
Sound experiments
Children’s songs

Anderson, William and Joy E. Lawrence. Integrating Music into the Elementary Classroom. 2010.
The eighth edition of this touchstone text relates music from different cultures and historical periods to all subject areas. With easy techniques for teaching young children how to sing, play instruments, and move to, create, listen to, and understand music, this text is perfect for students with no prior knowledge of music fundamentals. Includes Gr. K-6 lesson plans and 150+ songs.
[Education 372.87044 An24i 2010]

Carlow, Regina. Exploring the Connection between Children’s Literature and Music. 2008.
This book offers substantial advice for primary grade teachers on combining language arts studies with musical exercises. The book opens with ideas for teaching fundamentals such as high and low, rhyme, animal sounds, improvisation, and instrumentation; as well as the musical potential of echo, chants, rhythm, movement, and repetition. Includes Gr. Pre-2 lesson plans and book/song lists.
[Education 372.87 C196e]

Gardner, Robert. Jazzy Science Projects with Sound and Music. 2006.
The science experiments outlined in this book are made with simple materials that answer questions like: Can you feel the vibrations made by sound? How do musical instruments make sound? Gr. 2+
[Education Curriculum TEXT. 534 ENSLO 2006]

Hackett, Patricia. The Musical Classroom: Backgrounds, Models, and Skills for Elementary Teaching. 2001.
Assuming little or no musical background, this text shows students how music works, and demonstrates how to convey this understanding to others. It helps students develop skills in teaching music while offering them introductory experiences in playing and reading music. Includes lesson plans, information on learning instruments, song materials, and an accompanying CD.
[Music & Performing Arts MT1 H12M87 2001]

Kallen, Stuart A. The Instruments of Music. 2003.
Drums, guitars, flutes, trumpets, and pianos have been bringing joy to people for centuries. Kallen’s The Instruments of Music is an enjoyable and comprehensive exploration of percussion, woodwinds, brass, strings, and keyboards that includes history, cultural background, and the place of individual instrument in music from classical orchestra to rock and roll.
[Education Storage S. 784.19 K125i]

Spanoghe, Kelly. Jazzing Up Instruction: An Integrated Curriculum for Elementary Students. 2002.
These lessons use ten individual jazz lyrics as a starting point to teach concepts in reading, social skills, mathematics, social studies, language arts, art, physical education, science, and health, as well as an appreciation for jazz. Includes Gr. 1-5 lesson plans, workbook pages, and a CD with recordings of the songs used in the lessons.
[Education Curriculum CURR. 780 CHIGU 2002]

Seskin, Steve. Sing My Song: A Kid’s Guide to Songwriting. 2008.
Through author’s notes and songs written with students, Seskin shows readers how to come up with a title, create lyrics and rhymes, and use emotion and imagery. Each song appears with an original illustration by a top artist. Includes a CD with recordings of the songs along with blank musical tracks to use in original songwriting.
[Education S Collection S. 782.4216413 Se71s]

Stenner, Heather. SINGuini: Noodling Around with Silly Songs. 2006.
Written specifically for upper-elementary and middle-school students, parodies of old favorites and hilarious original tunes keep kids laughing while they learn to love singing. Short, melody-only versions of the songs photocopy easily and are accompanied by full-piano leader editions. Each song is presented in four different sections that highlight lyrics, time signatures, melody, and accompaniment.
[Education Curriculum TEXT. 782 COTWD 2006]
Musical Instruments, Types of Music, and Famous Musicians

These nonfiction trade books for youth will help curious children and teens learn more about different types of musical instruments, musical styles, and famous musicians. To find more resources like these, try looking up the following subject terms in the catalog:

Music — Juvenile literature
Instruments — Juvenile literature
Music — Juvenile biography

Angel, Ann. Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing. 2010.
Forty years after her death at age 27, Janis Joplin remains among the most compelling and influential figures in rock-and-roll history. Her story is one of a girl who struggled against rules and limitations, yet worked diligently to improve as a singer; an outrageous rebel who wanted to be loved; and of a wild woman who wrote long, loving letters to her mom.
[Education S Collection SB. J81a]

Easterling, Lisa. Music. 2007.
Through stunning photographs and simple text, books in this series introduce children to elements of our global community. In this title, children learn about music around the world, including different types of music, ways people play music, and why music is important.
[Education S Collection S. 780 Ea777m]

Kenny, Karen Latchana and Mary Lindeen. Checkerboard How-To Library: Cool Music[Series] 2008.
Each volume in this series introduces readers to a type of music and includes activities that will immerse children in that musical tradition. Styles profiled include: classical, country, Latin, hip-hop, reggae, and rock.
[Education S Collection]

Krull, Kathleen. The Book of Rock Stars: 24 Musical Icons that Shine through History. 2003.
Twenty-four of the greatest figures of rock ‘n’ roll are celebrated with in-depth mini-biographies and colorful accompanying block prints. Each entry features behind-the-scenes stories, facts, and entertaining anecdotes on artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, and Carlos Santana.
[Education S Collection S. 781.66 K939b]

Orgill, Roxane. Shout, Sister, Shout! Ten Girl Singers Who Shaped a Century. 2001.
Ten of the 20th century’s most prolific and talented female singers — from Sophie Tucker and Judy Garland to Madonna and Lucinda Williams — are featured in this volume that includes intimate personal details, photographs, interviews, and tidbits of little known information about each woman.
[Center for Children’s Books S. 782.42164092 Or3s]

Raintree Sprouts: Making Music [Series] 2006.
This series explores different types of instruments based on the techniques used to play them. A range of practical activities encourages young readers to discover for themselves, step by step, how to make musical sounds, how to build up tunes, how to make rhythms, and much more. Titles in series include: Banging, Blowing, Shaking.
[Music & Performing Arts]

Rubin, Susan Goldman. Music Was IT: Young Leonard Bernstein. 2011.
Beginning with Lenny’s childhood in Boston and ending with his triumphant conducting debut at Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic when he was just twenty-five,Music Was IT draws readers into the energetic, passionate, challenging music-filled life of young Leonard Bernstein.
[Center for Children’s Books SB. B531m]

VanHecke, Susan. Raggin’, Jazzin’, Rockin’: A History of American Musical Instrument Makers. 2011.
This history of American musical instrument inventors includes biographies of the people behind the familiar names of Steinway, Moog, Fender, and Zildgian.
[Center for Children’s Books S. 784.19092 V312r]

World of Music [Series] 2008.
Each book in this series takes a comprehensive look at the musical styles and instruments of various regions around the world, discusses how the music of other cultures influenced the region’s music and vice versa, and profiles some of the region’s musicians. Regions explored include: Africa; Australia, Hawaii, and the Pacific; Eastern Asia; Europe; Latin America and the Caribbean; and Western Asia.
[Education S Collection]

Musicians in YOUR Schools: YA Fiction about Teens who Love Music

Most teenagers are passionate about music. They have different passions and goals, come from different backgrounds and traditions. They are classically trained pianists, hip-hop MCs, future managers or DJs, and band members of both the rock and marching varieties. And nearly all of them are found in YA fiction. To find more resources like these, try looking up the following subject terms in the catalog:

Music — Juvenile fiction
Musicians — Juvenile fiction

Wealer, Sara Bennett. Rival. 2011.
Two high school rivals compete in a prestigious singing competition while reflecting on the events that turned them from close friends to enemies the year before.
[Center for Children’s Books S. B439r]

Benway, Robin. Audrey, Wait! 2008.
While trying to score a date with her cute co-worker at the Scooper Dooper, sixteen-year-old Audrey (who loves music and dreams of being a DJ) gains unwanted fame and celebrity status when her ex-boyfriend, a rock musician, records a breakup song about her that soars to the top of the Billboard charts.
[Education S Collection S. B447a]

Boles, Philana Marie. Glitz. 2011.
Sixteen-year-old orphan Ann Michelle runs away from her grandmother’s house in Toledo, Ohio, with a new friend who is intent on seeking her own fame while the teenagers follow a hip-hop musician to New York City.
[Education S Collection S. B637g]

Crowley, Cath. A Little Wanting Song. 2010.
Originally published in Australia in 2005. One Australian summer, two very different sixteen-year-old girls — Charlie, a talented but shy musician, and Rose, a confident student longing to escape her tiny town — are drawn into an unexpected friendship, as told in their alternating voices.
[Education S Collection S. C8864l]

Dionne, Erin. Notes from an Accidental Band Geek. 2011.
French horn virtuoso Elsie Wyatt resents having to join her high school’s marching band playing a mellophone, but finally finds a sense of belonging that transcends the pressure she has always felt to be as good as her father, principal French horn player in the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
[Center for Children’s Books S. D622n]

Donnelly, Jennifer. Revolution. 2010.
Andi — an angry, grieving seventeen-year-old musician facing expulsion from her prestigious Brooklyn private school — travels to Paris to complete a school assignment and uncovers a diary written during the French revolution by a young actress attempting to help a tortured, imprisoned little boy — Louis Charles, the lost king of France.
[Center for Children’s Books S. D718r]

Going, K.L. Fat Kid Rules the World. 2003.
Seventeen-year-old Troy, depressed, suicidal, and weighing nearly 300 pounds, gets a new perspective on life when a homeless teenager who is a genius on guitar wants Troy to be the drummer in his rock band.
[Education Storage S. G561f]

Goode, Laura. Sister Mischief. 2011.
Esme Rockett, also known as MC Ferocious, rocks her suburban Minnesota Christian high school with more than the hip-hop music she makes with best friends Marcy ( DJ SheStorm) and Tess (The ConTessa) when she develops feelings for her co-MC, Rowie (MC Rohini).
[Center for Children’s Books S. G613s]

John, Anthony. Five Flavors of Dumb. 2010.
Eighteen-year-old Piper, who is deaf, becomes the manager for her classmates’ popular rock band, called Dumb, giving her the chance to prove her capabilities to her parents and others, if only she can get the band members to get along.
[Center for Children’s Books S. J6131f]

Marchetta, Melina. The Piper’s Son. 2011.
After his favorite uncle’s violent death, Tom Mackee watches his family implode, quits school, and turns his back on music and everyone who matters, and while he is in no shape to mend what is broken, he fears that no one else is, either.
[Education S Collection S. M332p]

Nelson, Blake. Rock Star Superstar. 2004.
When Pete, a talented bass player, moves from playing in the high school jazz band to playing in a popular rock group, he finds the experience exhilarating even as his new fame jeopardizes his relationship with girlfriend Margaret.
[Center for Children’s Books S. N331r]

Zalben, Jane Breskin. Four Seasons. 2011.
Over the course of a year, thirteen-year-old Allegra Katz, a student at the demanding Julliard School and the daughter of two musicians, tries to decide whether she wants to continue to pursue a career as a concert pianist or to do something else with her life.
[Center for Children’s Books S. Z142fo]