Listening Playlists to Accompany Music-Themed Children’s Books

Recently, I shared a couple of blog posts related to building a lending library in your studio of music-themed children’s books and comics.

After purchasing a few more books from some of your recommendations, I noticed I had quite a few books that had suggested listening lists in the back of the book. Thus was born the idea to create listening playlists to accompany some of these books!

I’ve been using Spotify for years to create playlists of my own. It’s a wonderful place to create public playlists anyone can listen to.

In this post, I will share brief synopses of each of these 9 books as well as the direct link to each playlist.

For quick access to them all in one location, simply click on the link to my public playlists.

As a bonus, as a way of sharing these playlists with your students, I’ve created a free printable of bookmarks you can print on heavy paper or cardstock and stick inside each book when it’s checked out.

This will be an easy way to give parents the link to listen to these playlists at home when reading these books with their children.


Why Listening Playlists?

First of all, let’s talk briefly about why playlists will be useful for your students.

First of all, some of the books are related directly to a specific piece. For example, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Although they might have a CD in the back of the book, in 2022, not many families use CD players anymore.

Other examples where the book mentions specific works:

  • In Beethoven’s Lives Upstairs, they mention that he was writing his 9th Symphony
  • In Mozart Finds a Melody, Mozart’s pet starling can sing a portion of the tune from his Concerto No. 17, the 3rd movement.
  • In Piano Starts Here (Art Tatum), they mention him playing specific tunes.

How wonderful would it be for students to have the chance to listen easily to these pieces to enhance the experience of the book?

Not all of the books mention specific works, so the rest of the playlists include a small handful of selections of their most famous pieces. The goal is to offer students a small taste of that composer.

I tried to keep every playlist under an hour with many being only 5-20 minutes.

*Note: All book descriptions below are from Amazon.


Becoming Bach by Tom Leonard

For Johann Sebastian there was always music. His family had been musicians or bachs as they were called in Germany, for 200 years. He always wanted to be a bach…This is the story of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Find this book on Amazon


Beethoven Lives Upstairs by Barbara Nichol

Correspondence between a young boy and his music-student uncle chronicles the upheaval in Christoph’s household caused by the arrival of an eccentric, difficult, and deaf composer, Ludwig van Beethoven, the new upstairs tenant.

Find this book on Amazon


Dancing Hands by Margarita Engle and Rafael López

The story of Teresa Carreño, a child prodigy who played piano for Abraham Lincoln.

Find this book on Amazon


Do-Re-Me by Susan Roth

If you can read musical notes, you can sing any song or play any piece. But musical notes have not always been here. Long ago, songs were memorized. If songs were forgotten, they were lost forever. Thanks to one man, Guido d’Arezzo, music now can last forever.

Find this book on Amazon


Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue by Anna Harwell Celenza

George Gershwin only has a few weeks to compose a concerto. His piece is supposed to exemplify American music and premiere at a concert entitled “An Experiment in Modern Music.” Homesick for New York while rehearsing for a musical in Boston, he soon realizes that American music is much like its people, a great melting pot of sounds, rhythms, and harmonies. JoAnn Kitchel’s illustrations capture the 1920s in all their art-deco majesty.

Find this book on Amazon


King of Ragtime: The Story of Scott Joplin by Stephen Costanza

A stunning, rhythmic picture book biography of African American composer Scott Joplin, whose ragtime music paved the way for jazz.

Find this book on Amazon


Mozart Finds a Melody by Stephen Costanza

For the first time in Wolfgang’s life, the famous composer was at a loss for a tune. He tried every trick to get his imagination going. He sang standing on his head. He played his violin in the bathtub. He even threw darts at the blank music paper. Alas, nothing worked.

Find this book on Amazon


Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum by Robert Andrew Parker

Regardless of whether they’ve heard of jazz or Art Tatum, young readers will appreciate how Parker uses simple, lyrical storytelling and colorful, energetic ink-and-wash illustrations to show the world as young Art Tatum might have seen it. Tatum came from modest beginnings and was nearly blind, but his passion for the piano and his acute memory for any sound that he heard drove him to become a virtuoso who was revered by both classical and jazz pianists alike.

Find this book on Amazon


Polly and the Piano by Carol Montparker

A beautifully narrated and illustrated story, Polly and the Piano is based upon the true-life-loving relationship between the pianist-author and her dog, Polly.

Find this book on Amazon


Bookmark Printable

In order to make it easy for your studio families to find these playlists, here is a free download you can print and place in each book like a bookmarker.


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