10 Best Books based on songs

All of us are familiar with songs. Since we were born, we have been exposed to a lot of songs. Songs are entertaining and have been our old friends. We remember quite a few songs which we learned when we were children. Amazingly, these songs can be remembered throughout our lives.

Songs are also an effective tool for learning. The power of songs can be fully amplified when it is collaborated with reading books. Once a child gets familiar with a certain song, a book based on that song will be unforgettable for him/her.

In this article, ten books based on popular songs are introduced. I hope these books are beneficial and entertaining for our children.

1. There was a tree

(Author & Illustrator: Rachael Isadora, Age range: 3~7 years)

There was a tree is a popular song. This song has another title of Green Grass grows all around. The song introduces a sequence of objects, such as a tree, limb, branch, nest, egg, and bird.

The introduced book is written by Rachel Isadora (1953~). She was a ballet dancer before being injured and changed her career path to a writer/illustrator for children’s books. Ben’s Trumpet is the most famous book of her. She has written and illustrated more than 150 books about ballet, dance, and nature. The background of the introduced book is Africa. Large-scale plain and wild-animals are introduced in the book.



2. Let’s play in the forest while wolf is not around

(Author & Illustrator: Claudia Rueda, Age range: 3~5 years)

The book was authored by Claudia Rueda. She is a Colombian author and illustrator of children’s books. The book is based on a traditional French and Spanish song.

Several animals in the forest keep asking a wolf if he is there. The wolf keeps answering that he is putting on some clothes such as underpants, undershirt, pants, T-shirt, socks, shoes, and jacket. Then, he said he was very hungry which made all the animals scared. At the end of the story, there is a funny and cute twist. The book’s illustration is rather simple and clear. Young children can be highly engaged. 

3. Over in the ocean

(Author: Jack Hartmann, Illustrator: Roohee Mirbaha & Gustavo Balmelli, Age range: 3~5 years)

Over in the OceanOver In The Ocean is authored by Jack Hartmann. He is running a YouTube channel called Jack Hartmann Kids Music Channel. There are more than 1.1 million subscribers to the channel.

In the book, ten different sea animals such as turtles, whales, eels, and crabs are introduced along with ten family members. The book’s illustrations are lovable. The book can be checked from Jack Hartmann’s website.

On the YouTube video, Jack Hartmann is singing along the lyrics, and his humming voice is captivating.

4. Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes

(Author: Eric Litwin, Illustrator: James Dean, Age range: 4~8 years)

Pete the Cat is a fictional character created by American artist James Dean. Pete the Cat is one of the most well-known characters in children’s literature.

This book is quite an entertainment for children, especially when it is combined with the song, as introduced in the following YouTube video. The color of Pete’s shoes keeps changing when he steps on several objects such as strawberries, blueberries, and mud. The book is a great introduction of several colors to young children with an entertaining song.


5. There was an old lady who swallowed a fly

(Author: Lucille Colandro, Illustrator: Jared D. Lee, Age range: 4~6 years)

It is a story of an old lady who swallowed many insects and animals, including a spider, a cow, and a horse. There is another title of the story, I know an old lady who swallowed a fly.

The book’s illustration is hilarious. The story of the book is unrealistic, but the song’s main goal is introducing a sequence. The song on the YouTube video is played slowly, and its graphics illustrate the contents appropriately. At the end of the video, there is a more detailed explanation of the song.


6. This Jazz Man

(Author: Karen Ehrhardt, Illustrator: R.G. Roth, Age range: 4~7 years)

This book is an excellent introduction of Jazz to children. Nine Jazz men in a band are playing different instruments. At the end of the book, nine legendary Jazz musicians are introduced, including Louie Armstrong and Bill Robinson. A lot of humming in the book might be a bit difficult to follow. Then, the introduced YouTube video will be worthwhile to check out. 

Here, all the lyrics, including the humming, are sung by Eileen, the narrator of the book. She is a professional singer and songwriter. She is a great singer, and her voice has full of energy. I smiled a lot while watching this video.

The following YouTube video can be found from the YouTube channel, KidTimeStoryTime. In one of the articles on my site, Top 10 Sites for Reading Children’s Books, KidTimeStoryTime was selected as the number 1 book reading site for children.   

7. Singing in the rain

(Illustrator: Tim Hopgood, Age range: 4~8 years)

The book is illustrated by Tim Hopgood while its lyrics are from the song in the American musical comedy film, Singin’ in the rain, which was released in 1952. The book presents colorful illustrations. All the lyrics of the song are translated and illustrated in children’s perspective.

Tim Hopgood has authored and illustrated a lot of books, and the most famous one is What a wonderful world which was originally sung by Louis Armstrong. In the linked YouTube channel, What a wonderful world was sung beautifully by Eileen who was introduced in the above book, This Jazz Man

8. If you’re happy and you know it

(Author: Anna McQuinn, Illustrator: Sophie Fatus, Age range: 4~8 years)

If you’re happy and you know it was published by Barefoot Books. Barefoot Books was founded in 1992 in the UK, and its headquarter is in the USA. In 2017, the company was named as one of the 25 best small companies in the USA by Forbes.

Barefoot Books logo
Barefoot Books logo



It will be fun for children to follow what the lyrics say, such as “clap your hands” or “stomp your feet”. At the end of the video, a lot of ‘hello’s’ in different languages are introduced.

9. Coat of Many Colors

(Author: Dolly Parton, Illustrator: Brooke Boynton Hughes, Age range: 5~ years)

This book is based on a song by American country music singer, Dolly Parton. She is one of the most successful country singers in the USA. Her 25 songs have reached No. 1 on the Billboard country music charts, including I Will Always Love You.

The story/song was about her real experience when she was young. The story will make children think about being rich, being poor, and the love of mother.

In the following YouTube video, the song was sung beautifully with colorful illustrations. “One is only poor, only if they chose to be” is my favorite lyrics of this song.

10. Octopus’s Garden

(Author: Ringo Starr, Illustrator: Ben Cort, Age range: 4~8 years)

Octopus’s Garden is a classic Beatles song. The lyrics are written by Ringo Starr, the drummer of the Beatles. He has written the lyrics of Don’t Pass me by as well as Octopus’s Garden. Ben Cort worked on the colorful illustrations of this book.

Deep under the sea is one of the most mysterious and mystic places on Earth. The book is a story of several children who are traveling under the sea. They meet and play with an octopus. Our children will enjoy reading this book.

In the following video, Ringo Starr himself narrated the lyrics of the song.


17 thoughts on “10 Best Books based on songs”

  1. Hi Jason, great post and very informative.

    I only realised after both of my children had long since grown out of the nursery rhymes that the song Alphabet song “ABC…” was the exact same melodie as Twinkle, Twinkle little star – sang both for years to my two children and never noticed LOL

    My two still love to sing and surprisingly they will know the lyrics to a song almost immediately after hearing the song being played for the first time. When they started school they often learnt through song and they both loved it, fostering a love for music and song as they get older.

    All the best, Julie Anne

  2. Wonderful! Music and books are two of my most favorite things. Children will learn
    much from these books. To have music and reading together will make both books
    and music special. One of these books would make a nice Christmas gift. Great post!
    Very informative.

    • Thank you for your comment.
      I also love music and books so much like you.
      Music and books have been our old and intimate friends.
      I believe they are beneficial in many respects.
      Have a nice day!

  3. Until reading your comment, I thought that Alphabet stone and ‘Twinkle, Twinkle little star’ have totally different melodies.
    Probably, the songs we have heard since our childhood became our second-nature and we don’t even try to analyze them logically. Every single song is unique friend of us.
    Thank you for sharing your thought.

  4. Hi Jason. I love your article. Songs can help child and parents learn better English. It also improve people’s English grammar. Your capture Photos is amazing. Thank you for sharing with us

    • Hi, Wenhua.
      Thank you for your comment.
      I believe we can learn a lot of things such as culture through the songs.
      It is a lot easier to remember things with songs/rhythms.
      Have a nice day!

  5. Hey Jason,

    I remember my Mum and Dad signing songs to me as a child. Things like old Macdonald really helped me to learn my “barnyard” animals.

    I take a similar approach to learning with my kids, “If you’re happy & you know it” is a personal favourite of ours. The version you have shared is far better though, I like the hello’s in different languages. I think the earlier kids start learning new languages, the earlier it sticks. I’ll certainly be taking my kids though that version, thanks for sharing!

  6. My little daughter loves singing and I want to give her a good start and prepare her for school by teaching her reading and create an interest in reading in her. I think this will help because she knows almost all of these songs. I appreciate your effort.


    • Hi, Strahinja.
      Thank you for sharing your thought.
      Hope your little daughter enjoys these books and songs.
      I also wish your daughter grows up to become a strong, independent and wise woman.

  7. Hi Jason,

    I love your post, I am going to share it with my sister-in-law. Actually as she is Colombian, she already sings to him “Let’s play in the forest while wolf is not around”, and my nephew loves it! I still remember my grandma singing and story-telling to me when I was 6 years old, will never forget it – I think it’s super important that kids grow up with this kind of books and music.

    • Hi, thank you for your comment.
      Your sister-in-law should know Claudia Rueda.
      As you mentioned, the songs we learned when we were young can be remembered forever. 🙂
      Have a great day, and stay safe.

  8. Wow, great inspiration here, my son kept asking me recently if we can start to sing any new songs. Problem solved for now:-) Thanks!

  9. Hi Jason,
    Wow! Great songs and thanks for the informative music songs post for children. Played it to my kids and asked them what they think, guess what they love it and very excited listening to the song book. It was surprising that they both wanted to listen unlike when I gave them books to read.
    Thanks for the exposure to such amazing collections.


    • Hi, Benson.
      I believe all human beings love to hear songs by nature.
      I am glad your kids loved the songs.
      Take good care of them and stay safe. 🙂
      Thank you.


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