I’ve heard parents admit that they’ll skip a page here and there while reading to their kids. Make no mistake, they love reading together, but when they’re tired at the end of a stressful day…well, you know. That won’t be the case if you check out these books featuring illustrated song lyrics. They’ll give you a whole new outlook on some of your favorite tunes. You can sing along or “Alexa” can even play many of them while you turn the pages.
by John Denver; adapted and illustrated by Christopher Canyon (Dawn Publications, 2005)
This book shows relatives traveling around Appalachia by car, pickup truck, and motorcycle, who then meet up for a family reunion at Grandma and Grandpa’s country home. Featuring illustrations that look like a quilt, it’s a book that grandparents will love to read to the grandkids as they remember the popular song. Other picture book versions of Denver’s songs include Grandma’s Feather Bed and Sunshine On My Shoulders.
by Pharrell Williams (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2015)
Kids and parents can sing along to the 2014 hit song “Happy,” as this book shares lyrics and photos of children being silly and celebrating what happy means to them. Also available in board book form to make the youngest readers happy, the book includes children from a variety of cultural backgrounds.
by Benjamin Scheuer; illustrated by Jemima Williams (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020)
Songwriter/performer Benjamin Scheuer wrote a song about a seed, and his illustrator wife Jemima Williams turned it into a picture book. As a seed grows through the course of the story, readers will recognize the parallel to a growing child surrounded by unconditional love. The book includes music for the song in the back. Also available from the husband/wife team is another song-turned-picture-book, Hibernate with Me.
by Joe Raposo; illustrated by various artists (Random House Children’s Books, 2019)
Sing along to Joe Raposo’s well-known theme song to Sesame Street—which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year—while turning pages featuring the work of 18 award-winning and bestselling illustrators. The diverse range of artwork styles, each one inspired by a line from the song, shows that Sesame Street can truly be found anywhere.
by Bob Marley and Cedella Marley; illustrated by John Jay Cabuay (Chronicle Books, 2019)
Bob Marley’s lyrics adapted by his eldest child, Cedella, are paired with illustrations to create a modern story to which kids can relate. The pictures show a girl encountering teasing and intimidation throughout the school day, but with help from her friends, and by taking action in a loving way, she’s able to make things right. It’s the fourth and latest picture book featuring Marley’s songs; look for One Love, Every Little Thing, and Three Little Birds, too.
by John Lennon and Paul McCartney; illustrated by Henry Cole (Little Simon, 2019)
Lyrics from the popular Beatles’ song will be familiar, but Henry Cole’s original illustrations paint a new perspective, portraying a story of a strong friendship between two little girls. Artwork shows the girls having fun together, followed by their sadness when one moves away. The story ends on a good note, showing all the ways they continue their friendship after they are separated.
Book experts and librarians also recommend:
- What a Wonderful World based on the song by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss; sung by Louis Armstrong; illustrated by Tom Hopgood
- Take Me Out to the Ball Game by Jack Norworth; illustrated by Amiko Hirao
- Footloose by Kenny Loggins; illustrated by Tim Bowers
- If Not For You by Bob Dylan; illustrated by David Walker
- Singing in the Rain based on the song by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown; illustrated by Tim Hopgood
- Puff, the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow and Lenny Lipton; illustrated by Eric Puybaret
- Over the Rainbow by Judy Collins and E.Y. Harburg; illustrated by Eric Puybaret
- Blowin’ in the Wind by Bob Dylan; illustrated by Jon J Muth
- Imagine by John Lennon; illustrated by Jean Jullien
- Walking in a Winter Wonderland by Peggy Lee, Richard B. Smith, and Felix Bernard; illustrated by Tim Hopgood
- Forever Young by Bob Dylan; illustrated by Paul Rogers
- Morning Has Broken by Eleanor Farjeon; illustrated by Tim Ladwig
- Silly Lullaby by Sandra Boynton
- The Golden Thread: A Song for Pete Seeger by Colin Meloy; illustrated by Nikki McClure
- Lilah Tov Good Night by Ben Gundersheimer; illustrated by Noar Lee Naggan