Learning music is wonderful for developing brains, and so is reading! So why not combine the two and use some fun picture books for music lessons with younger students. If you’d like recommendations for books your students will love, then here are some of my favourites:
Books About Instruments
If you want your students to learn about different types of musical instruments, then these books are a great place to start:
The Bear and the Piano
Every night, a crowd gathered to listen to the magical melodies coming from the bear and the strange thing.
– David Litchfield, The Bear and the Piano
My favourite book for new piano students, this beautifully illustrated story follows the journey of a bear who learns to play the piano. It’s a great prompt for talking about the importance of practice, and once we’ve read the book I always like to show my students a video of the story coming to life 😉
I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello
I know a shy fellow who swallowed a cello. I don’t know why he swallowed that cello. Perhaps he’ll bellow.
– Barbara Garriel, I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello
This musical take on the well-known I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly is a fun way to introduce a range of different instruments to your students. The rhythm of the words make this a great book to read aloud.
Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin
And soaring high and moving in, With Zin! Zin! Zin! a violin,
Stroking strings that come alive; Now quintet. Let’s count them: five.
– Lloyd Moss, Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin
A wonderful way for students to discover the instruments of the orchestra, this counting book also teaches the correct terms for musical groups. It’s a perfect starting point to explore the sounds of different types of instruments.
A sound story uses instruments to accompany different elements of a picture book, and is an activity loved by younger students! Check out Learning by Step for tips on how to use simple instruments to create a sound story, and if you’d like some ideas on what picture books to use then check out these great options:
A little bird tweeted “What a great song! And if you don’t mind, I’ll sing along!”
“Wait!” yelled Centipede. “You need a beat!” So he tapped out a rhythm with his tappity feet…
– Steve Smallman, Hippobottymus
Sure to appeal to young students, this playful book has a great rhythm and a catchy rhyme repeated throughout the story. Though I have to admit my favourite part is Hippo’s surprise contribution!
Where the Wild Things Are
And when he came to the place where the wild things are they roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws.
– Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are
This book is a classic for a reason, and works really well as a sound story. It’s especially great for a group of younger students who love being part of the wild rumpus!
The Elephant and the Bad Baby
So the elephant stretched out his trunk and took an ice cream for himself, and an ice cream for the Bad Baby. And they went rumpeta, rumpeta, rumpeta all down the road with the ice cream man running after.
– Elfrida Vipont, The Elephant and the Bad Baby
You know you’ve found a great book when students want to read it again immediately! This is one of my favourite books from my childhood, and works so well with the addition of a few instruments (the slide whistle is the most popular).