Engaging books about music are a great way to get your child excited about music. They can also teach children about the orchestra, the composers, and music history while having fun reading and enjoying the pictures.
Below are the books I have in my own music lending library so far that I recommend. I’m always on the hunt for more, so if you find a great one, do let me know!
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Books About Music & Music History for Young Kids
Song of Middle C
Song of Middle C by Alison McGhee is a beautiful story of recital nerves almost getting the best of a student, and how she overcomes them with improvisation.
Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin
Kids love Zin! Zin! Zin! a Vioin. The illustrations are beautiful and the book helps children to learn about the instruments of the orchestra and gets them excited about all the different sounds. Use this as a jumping off point to learn more about musical instruments with your child.
There are many books about the composers, but this is one of the best. Becoming Bach by Tom Leonard tells the story of young Bach finding his way to music in a highly engaging way.
Meet the Orchestra
This is another book that will teach kids about musical instruments. I think Meet the Orchestra would be a great introduction before your first trip to see an orchestra perform.
The Musical Life of Gustav Mole
The Musical Life of Gustav Mole, illustrated by Kathryn Meyrick, tells the story of a mole born into a musical family and explores instruments and ensembles through this tale. It also comes with a CD.
Do Re Mi: If you can read music, thank Guido d’Arezzo
One of my personal favourites! In Do Re Mi: If you can read music, thank Guido d’Arezzo children are taken on a journey with the creator of our music notation system. That doesn’t sound like fun – but it is honestly such an engaging story and the illustration style is both beautiful and charming.
I know a shy fellow who swallowed a cello
This adorable and quirky take on the old favourite: there was an old lady who swallowed a fly, will get your kids truly excited about the different instruments. Play the game of trying to guess what else will be swallowed to learn even more instrument names!
The Composer is Dead
I love Lemony Snicket so I was super excited when I heard about this book. The Composer is Dead by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Carson Ellis comes with a CD with music by Nathaniel Stookey. It’s completely charming and explores each of the instruments of the orchestra, giving them quirks and personalities.
The Music of Life: Bartolomeo Cristofori & the Invention of the Piano
As a piano teacher, I’m a little biased here, but I think the invention of the piano and how it works is fascinating. The illustrations in The Music of Life: Bartolomeo Cristofori & the Invention of the Piano Hardcover are absolutely gorgeous and they’ve really brought this story to life. Highly recommend this one!
Books About Music & Music History for Older Kids
Why Beethoven Threw the Stew
In Why Beethoven Threw the Stew, Steven Isserlis makes the lives of great composers funny and brings them to life. This is the perfect book to get kids engaged with music they’re learning that was written long ago and help them understand the historic context – in a kid-friendly way.
Why Handel Waggled His Wig
Lives of the Musicians: Good times, bad times, and what the neighbours thought
You could easily read Lives of the Great Musicians straight through – but even better would be to keep this on hand to look up when your child is learning a piece by one of the great composers. That would be a super way to connect with the music on a deeper level.
Bach, Beethoven and the Boys
Bach, Beethoven, and the Boys is “music history as it ought to be taught”. This book would be wonderful for those music students who need an overview of music history, but don’t want to read a textbook (who does, really?).