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Baby & Toddler


Growing Reader

9 Toe-Tapping Picture Books Inspired by Popular Song Lyrics

by Devon A. Corneal


Song lyrics aren’t just for the radio anymore. These poems set to music also happen to inspire wonderful children’s books — books that bring messages of hope and enthusiasm and love to kids of all ages. And if you happen to hum along as you read, even better! We’ve gathered some of our favorite song-based books for your family to enjoy together. Whether you’re a fan of country, reggae, ’80s rock, or Christmas carols, we’ve got a book you’ll love.

  • Singing in the Rain

    by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown, illustrated by Tim Hopgood

    There’s nothing like a Broadway show tune to get you humming, especially when it’s the iconic “Singing in the Rain.” Share this swinging read, then break out your galoshes and umbrellas and head outside for a song and dance, no matter the weather!

  • Elvis Presley’s Love Me Tender

    by Elvis Presley, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin

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    Love songs aren’t just for grown-ups, especially when they’re transformed into picture books! Elvis Presley’s “Love Me Tender” has inspired a new book that celebrates the love between children and the adults who take care of them. Get ready to read and sing this lullaby to the children in your life.

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  • Imagine

    by John Lennon, illustrated by Jean Jullien

    This book couples the haunting lyrics of John Lennon’s “Imagine” with gorgeous illustrations by Jean Jullien to encourage kids and adults to envision a more peaceful, harmonious world. It’s a timeless message that we can all hear more often.

  • Coat of Many Colors

    by Dolly Parton, illustrated by Brooke Boynton Hughes

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    Dolly Parton adds some country melodies to children’s literature with this story of a young girl whose mother sews her a homemade coat for winter. Based on events in Parton’s own life, this book reminds us that what truly matters isn’t what we wear on the outside, but who we are on the inside.

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  • What a Wonderful World

    by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss, illustrated by Tim Hopgood

    If you need the perfect lullaby for your littlest ones, pick up this sturdy board book and share the lyrics of “What a Wonderful World” just before bedtime. It will fill your head with the melodious sound of Louis Armstrong’s voice and their heads with sweet dreams.

  • Happy!

    by Pharrell Williams

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    In 2014, you couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing Pharrell Williams’s “Happy!” Besides reaching the top of the charts, it was also included in the soundtrack to “Despicable Me 2.” Your kids definitely know this catchy song, and now they can read the lyrics and appreciate the electrically vibrant pictures of happy children from around the world.

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  • Take Us Out to the Ball Game (Sesame Street)

    by Constance Allen, illustrated by Tom Brannon

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    Head to the baseball stadium with some of your favorite friends from Sesame Street! When a game is delayed due to rain, Elmo, Grover, Cookie Monster, Abby Cadabby, and other beloved characters improvise new verses to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” to entertain the crowd.

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  • Every Little Thing

    by Bob Marley, adapted by Cedella Marley, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

    Based on the lyrics to “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley, this colorful and inspiring picture book follows the story of one optimistic and determined little boy who learns that everything will be okay, no matter what challenges we face.

  • Footloose

    by Kenny Loggins, illustrated by Tim Bowers

    “Footloose” is one of those songs that never seems to go out of style, even though the 1980s, mullets, and maroon tuxedos are, thankfully, far behind us. Get your kids up and dancing just like Kevin Bacon with Kenny Loggins’s story inspired by his #1 hit from 1984.

  • All I Want for Christmas Is You

    by Mariah Carey, illustrated by Colleen Madden

    In our family, it’s never too early to start singing Christmas songs. So we’ll be reading All I Want for Christmas Is You all year round. If you prefer to wait until after Thanksgiving, we understand — just make sure not to miss Mariah Carey’s quintessential holiday song, now in book form.

Do you have a favorite book inspired by song lyrics? Share it with us in the comments section below!