From Lil Nas X to Guns N' Roses, these singers are writing books with their littlest audience in mind.
When curating your child's personal library, why not include a few kids' books written by musicians? While the bands and musicians writing books for kids might surprise you (hello, Lil Nas X), these songwriters are simply adapting their song list for younger audiences, or in some cases, creating a brand new and kid-appropriate tale for future fans. The benefits of reading and being read to are too numerous to count, as is playing music for your baby while in the womb and onwards. In a way, these kids' books are kind of a perfect combination of the two. Either way, I am here for it.
These 11 musicians are expanding their audience by writing for kids:
Pharrell Williams has turned his hit Academy Award-nominated song "Happy" into a picture book that shows young readers photographs of children around the world and across cultures celebrating what it means to be happy. Full of precious, smile-inducing childhood movements that everyone can relate to, this book brings the song "Happy" to life and will make everyone reading it happy, no matter their age.
For ages 3-7
In addition to being an icon of pop music, Madonna is also a children's book author. In The English Roses, four friends learn the importance of compassion and the benefits of friendship. In the magical tale, the four friends exclude a girl who appears to have the perfect life and makes them "green with envy". It isn't until the appearance of a fairy godmother that they learn her life isn't as perfect as it may seem. With beautiful watercolor illustrations by Jeffrey Fulvimari, Madonna continued the series in two follow up books, The English Roses: Friends for Life! and The English Roses: The New Girl.
For ages 8-10
This sweet picture book is inspired by the adventures of two real-life cousins, Maya and Natalia Rose, who grew up touring with Guns N' Roses (one is the daughter of the band's manager, and the other, his sister's). Using the lyrics of "Sweet Child O' Mine", the popular Guns N' Roses' song has turned into a tale that celebrates love and music, and is perfect for the youngest of fans.
For ages 4-8
International superstar (and father of 4!) Ricky Martin has created a beautiful story of a boy who follows his heart and a father who believes in him in Santiago the Dreamer in Land Among the Stars. In the book, Santiago's biggest dream is to be a performer. But when he doesn't get the lead role in the school play, he can't help but feel discouraged. After listening to his father's inspiring words, Santiago rebuilds his confidence and finds that with passion and dedication, you can achieve amazing things.
For ages 5-9
Beyond American Idol, Grammy Award wins and a daytime talk show, Kelly Clarkson is also a mother and children's book author. Inspired by her daughter, River Rose and The Magical Lullaby tells the sweet story of River Rose's excitement over her first visit to the zoo. Too wound up to sleep, it takes a magical lullaby from Mom to send River Rose off to sleep to dream about hopscotching with hippos and dancing with big brown bears. You can listen to the original lullaby performed by Kelly with a link found in the book. Kelly has followed up this book with another holiday-inspired adventure, River Rose and The Magical Christmas.
For ages 0-4
Fans of "Old Town Road" will love this alphabet adventure by Lil Nas X. In the New York Times bestseller, Lil Nas X and Panini the Pony go on a fabulous journey through the alphabet from sunup to sundown. With vivid illustrations by Theodore Taylor III, kids will enjoy a mashup of all things country and Nas' unique style ("S is for Swagger") in this kid-friendly picture book.
For ages 3-7
Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" is one of my favorite songs, and his message of love and peace comes shining through in this picture book adaptation written by his daughter, Cedella. With whimsical illustrations by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, in this story about a young boy and three very special little birds, readers are reminded that the sun will always come out after the rain and mistakes are easily forgiven with a hug. All the lyrics of the original song are used in the book, plus new verses that continue the message of "every little thing's gonna be all right." I think we may need this book now more than ever.
For ages 3-6
In this New York Times bestseller by the Divine Miss M herself, a real-life rainbow-colored Mandarin Duck has appeared in New York's Central Park. Based on actual events, Bette Midler's modern fable celebrates "the connections people make with each other and the world around them." Striking photos of the real life duck by Michiko Katukani are a wonderful addition, as are Joana Avillez's charming black-and-white drawings.
For ages 3-7
The musical genius that is Bob Dylan has taken his 1970 song, "If Dogs Run Free" and adapted it into a picture book for children. With charming illustrations by Scott Campbell, the story celebrates the freedom and creativity of childhood. Dylan's tale encourages its readers to "Just do your thing!" which I kind of love. As the song goes, "If dogs run free, why not we?" Dylan's other book for children is called Forever Young, adapted from another of his classic songs.
For ages 4-8
Jazz master Wynton Marsalis and the creators of Jazz ABZ have created a rhyming story that takes its readers (and little listeners) on a joyful and noise-filled journey in Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!: A Sonic Adventure. Get to know the many sounds that fill a neighborhood in this squeaky, eeky, rumble, grumble story. With colorful illustrations by Paul Rogers, this story is a lot of fun and a great way to introduce jazz to your little one (a rhyme for the win).
For ages 4-8
Country music legend and actress Dolly Parton uses the lyrics of her classic song "Coat of Many Colors" as a backdrop for this heartfelt picture book. Showcasing her rural upbringing in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, the book tells the story of a young girl in need of a warm winter coat. When her mother sews her a coat made of rags, the girl is teased by her classmates for being poor. Parton's trademark positivity shines through, however, as the girl realizes that the coat her mother made has love "in every stitch."
For ages 3-7
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