Best Elementary Music Books: Top 27

elementary music books

Are you searching for books to sing to your students? 

Do you want to look for music-related stories to share in your elementary music class? 

Literature is a powerful thing. 

Everyone knows it. 

But incorporating it effectively in the music room may seem tricky. 

Over my years of teaching, I’ve collected and experienced many books (and I know I still have many more to go!). 

I’m asked all the time by teachers and pre-service teachers what my favorite ones are. 

So, I decided to buckle up, sort through the library, and share this massive list of the best elementary music books with you. 

My picks for the elementary music books every teacher needs are sorted by the following categories: 

  • Books for singing
  • Books for instrument exploration
  • Books for songs and stories
  • Books about music
  • Books for movement
  • Books for Black History Month
  • Books on classical music
  • Books on famous artists
  • Books on famous composers

If you’re ready, friends, let’s dive in and check out some of my favorites. 

Best Elementary Music Books Mega-List

In this section, I’ll go through my must-haves by category. 

Some books may apply to both lists, but I avoid repeating them to give you the maximum number of books to pull from. 

To keep this post readable in one sitting, each section will contain 3 of my favorite books in each category. 

These books will be often be part of a series, and I’ll mention if there are more to check out. 

Each book will be labeled: 

  • Like it! 
  • Love it! 
  • Can’t live without it! 

Use these labels to help you with budgeting your funds on books. All images and hyperlinks are clickable and go right to the product listings to make life easier for you. 

Enjoy! 

Disclaimer: Many of the links in this post will be affiliate in nature. This means we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

If you think about it, it’s a win-win for both of us. Thanks! 

Books For Singing

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly

Like it! 

This classic song and book has been around for a long time, and most people have already heard it at some point. 

I love the adding nature of the song, and the kids really seem to as well. 

There are many more versions of this book by the same publishers who write new twists on the premise. 

They’re pretty fun, though none measure up to the original. 

Check out There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly

Miss Mary Mack

Love it! 

This is a call and response song with some excellent clapping motions. 

(It’s featured in my FREE eBook which should pop up if you join my email list.)

My kids love doing the motions. 

This book extends the song to several more lyrics making it almost a story. 

Check out Miss Mary Mack

Oh My Aunt Came Back

Can’t live without it! 

This echo song is so much fun to play. 

Check out other echo songs for schools

Between the motions and the beautiful illustrations, it’s always a winner in my classroom (and at concerts!). 

Check out Oh My Aunt Came Back

Books For Instrument Exploration

Tap Tap Boom Boom

Like it! 

This book is an adorable romp through different sounds easily applied to music. 

For this book, we like to read it together and then explore how different instrument sound may fit the sounds in the story. 

It’s simple but effective, and it’s an excellent part of any timbre unit for younger or middle elementary. 

Check out Tap Tap Boom Boom. 

Nam! Nam! Nam! / Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!

Love it! 

Don’t run away from me on this one. 

Nam! Nam! Nam! is a picture book in Spanish. 

I was terrified to sing this book to my kids (very much a non-Spanish speaking teacher here), but I wanted to challenge myself and the songs I was using in my room. 

This book is so sweet, and the sounds are so expressive. 

They lend themselves right to instrument exploration. 

Yes, my Spanish-speaking students gave me a hard time because of my accent, but they loved how I used songs in their own tongue. 

Every kid loved doing something a little different than their norm. 

Check out Nam! Nam! Nam!

Snow Sounds

Can’t live without it! 

Most books written to be specifically onomatopoeia stories (which all work well for instrument exploration) don’t have great stories. 

But this one takes the cake. 

Maybe it’s just because I teach and live in Michigan, but we love doing this one around winter time. 

Check out Snow Sounds. 

Books For Songs And Stories

Abiyoyo

Can’t live without it! 

Yeah, this is one of my favorite children’s books of all time. 

The music is fairly limited in the story, but it plays a key role in the plot. 

My kids love hearing this one over and over. 

And I love performing it! 

Add on top of this a great introduction to Pete Seeger (who wrote the story) and from there to protest songs, you have a sure winner. 

Check out Abiyoyo. 

Crabfish

Love it!

The Crabfish was the first book released by Dr. Feierabend in his First Steps songbook series. 

The illustrations are beautiful, the modal melody is hauntingly rich, and the story is entertaining for kids.

It used to be a “can’t live without it” until I learned more about its origins. 

It didn’t come from any place of racial or cultural negativity at all. 

But some of the original lyrics leaned a bit towards potty humor. 

These aren’t evident in the modern lyrics (settled into around the early 1900s) at all, but it is present in its original hundreds of years ago. 

As with all things, it’s up to you whether or not you do this one, but since it isn’t culturally negative, I think this one is up to you (unlike other songs with clearly negative backgrounds). 

Check out The Crabfish

Baby Beluga

Love it! 

As any child of the 80s and 90s will tell you, Raffi is the man. 

Even now, I listen to some of his newer performances (and he’s still mostly got it!), and I’m taken right back tomy childhood. 

The Baby Beluga song story is awesome and sweet. 

Something about the lilting melody will draw your students in. 

Check out Baby Beluga

Books About Music

Do Re Mi: If You Can Read This, Thank Guido D’Arezzo

Like it! 

Solfege is so important, which I write about all the time. 

This book is a funny, quirky way of teaching where solfege and notation came from. 

My older students find it interesting to think the style of music they’re reading now was born from ideas thousands of years ago. 

Check out Do Re Mi

Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin

Love it! 

Alright, I may get flack for this one, but I actually don’t dig this book as much as everyone else does. 

I love it for how it teaches instruments families in a cute way, and it’s a classic book. 

There are many resources around it as well. 

For this reason, I HAD to include it on the list, though I’m not as into as everyone seems to be. 

Still, it’s more than worth it to check out. 

Find Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin. 

Jazz Fly! 

Love it! 

Jazz is often forgotten or relegated to the side in elementary music rooms. 

This is a missed opportunity, but I think it’s largely because many of us don’t know a lot about or how to incorporate it. 

This book is a big help for this reason. 

Check out Jazz Fly. 

Books For Movement

Note: Check out my monster movement and music book list at the link. 

Barnyard Dance

Like it! 

This is a classic book not directly related to music, but, I mean, dance and music are kind of married, so it’s close enough! 

My kids love doing the dance moves, and this book is so classic there are many extra resources to pull from (including a wonderful Reading Rainbow episode). 

Check out Barnyard Dance

Shake Your Sillies Out!

Can’t live without it! 

Uh oh…my bias is showing. 

Here’s another Raffi-based book, and it’s a top pick of mine. 

Sorry, but I just love how engaging and quality almost everything he does is. 

Check out Shake Your Sillies Out! and I’m sure you’ll agree. 

Giraffes Can’t Dance

Love it! 

This book is just plain fun. 

If you haven’t read it yet, get it now! 

Your classroom teachers or library probably already have it, so ask around before you buy. 

Check out Giraffes Can’t Dance

Books For Black History Month

We Shall Overcome: The Story Of A Song

Can’t live without it! 

There is so much music history we unintentionally ignore. 

I’m not getting preachy here because I’m just as guilty of this as any music teacher. 

We need to talk more about protest songs, Civil Rights, and other cultures in our music classes. 

For me, finding the right books was the perfect first step. 

I didn’t have to balance knowledge with singing right away. 

It was as easy as picking up a book, and it gave/gives me the confidence to try and be better in this area. 

This one is especially dear to me, so I encourage you to check out We Shall Overcome. 

Ella Fitzgerald

Love it!

It’s Ella Fitzgerald. Why not use this book? 

It’s perfectly done for elementary grades and leads right into her amazing career and impact on music. 

In fact, why not use this outside Black History month as well?

Check out Ella Fitzgerald.

Trombone Shorty

Like it! 

I’ll admit to not knowing much about this book. 

So many were talking about it; I had to check it out. 

This guy is still active and a great source of inspiration for any aspiring musician. 

Check out Trombone Shorty.

Books On Classical Music

The Story Of The Nutcracker Ballet

Like it! 

This book is well done and introduces the Nutcracker for which there is obviously 1,000s of other resources to pull from. 

Unlike many books, it strikes a good balance between leaning into the dance aspect of the piece without turning off many of your “macho” students who may shut down when they hear the word “ballet.” 

Check out the Story of the Nutcracker Ballet

Maestro Classics

Love it!

Maestro Classics is a favorite resource of mine. 

They put out a ton of content on their website all for classical music. 

It’s engaging and affordable. 

Check out this bundle by clicking the image. 

Pictures At An Exhibition

Can’t live without it! 

As I’ve gone through this list of my favorite elementary music books, I can’t help but notice how many I pick based on personal connections. 

This is probably a good thing, and my students sense my sincere love for the ones I choose. 

Pictures was the last concert I performed in my undergrad with all of my friends. 

I literally cried (no shame; and I wasn’t the only one!) at the end. 

Given the chance to share this amazing piece with my students I jumped for it with this book.

Pictures At An Exhibition is an excellent opportunity to connect the visual with the musical. 

Books On Famous Artists

Who Were The Beatles?

Can’t live without it! 

Yeah, I’m a huge Beatles fan. 

Their impact on the world of modern music is still felt to this day, and a surprising amount of students are familiar with many of their songs (for good reason!). 

This book in a series on artists highlights the Fab Four and their wild success. 

Check out Who Were the Beatles?

When The Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop

Love it! 

I know my weaknesses, and one of them is on the history of Hip Hop.

This book helps out a lot, and I’m not ashamed to admit I learned quite a bit about its history from the text. 

Modern music is still quality music (though you have to be careful, as with any music). 

Check out When The Beat Was Born

Who Was Michael Jackson?

Like it! 

Here’s another entry from the Who Were? series featuring the King Of Pop. 

Still so many students love his songs from ABC to Thriller. 

Almost every Halloween, I have at least a couple of students who dress up as him for the holiday. 

He’s still relevant and Who Was Michael Jackson? shows him off well. 

Books On Famous Composers

Duke Ellington (Getting To Know The World’s Greatest Composers)

Love it!

The Duke is one of the greatest modern composers who ever lived, and I’m glad this book gives him the chance to shine. 

Too often, we forget all composers who lived in the 1900s. 

But so much of this music is great! 

Check out the Duke Ellington book from this series on many composers. 

Young Mozart

Like it! 

Like him or not, for the short time he lived, Mozart was one of the most prolific and influential composers of all time. 

Much has been created around him, but I enjoy this book focusing on his younger days. 

Check out Young Mozart

Ludwig Van Beethoven (GTKTWGC)

Can’t live without it! 

Yep, you guessed it: 

I’m a HUGE Beethoven fan. 

I think his music is amazing and personal story of overcoming adversity is inspirational for kids. 

This book is another from the series on Getting to Know Composers. 

Check out Ludwig Van Beethoven

Final Thoughts

As an avid reader and lover of music, any chance I get to marry the two together makes me happy. 

This is why these 27 elementary music books are a critical part of my curriculum. 

I hope this list gives you a good place to start for shopping for books. 

Whether you’re in-person during typical times or online, music books are excellent teaching tools for any number of concepts. 

But even more importantly, they provide positive music learning experiences for your students. 

Zach VanderGraaff

Zach VanderGraaff is a K-5 music teacher with Bay City Public Schools in Michigan. He's a Past-President of the Michigan Kodaly Educators and Executive Secretary of the Midwest Kodaly Music Educators Association.

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