Hands down, one of my most fun books to read aloud to kids or even just talk about with them is 88 Instruments, my 2016 fiction picture book illustrated by Louis Thomas and published by Knopf. (I’m giving away four copies in March 2024!)

So it made me so happy last month — many years after its publication — to see 88 Instruments included in this roundup of Children’s Books about Music assembled by the International Children’s Arts Network:

“In 88 Instruments, a boy visits a music store with his parents to pick out one (only one!) instrument to learn how to play,” ICAN says. “But how can he choose? From bagpipes and triangles to trombones and electric guitars, the boy explores the instruments to find the one that feels juuust right.”

And in the spirit of finding something that feels juuust right, I’ve looked through the lists of picture books that I’ve read in recent years for some other music-related titles that might hit the spot with a reader you know:

  • Big Tune: Rise of the Dancehall, by Alliah L. Agostini and illustrated by Shamar Knight-Justice
  • Building an Orchestra of Hope: How Favio Chávez Taught Children to Make Music from Trash, by Carmen Oliver and Luisa Uribe
  • By and By: Charles Albert Tindley, the Father of Gospel Music, by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Bryan Collier
  • Dazzlin’ Dolly: The Songwriting, Hit-Singing, Guitar-Picking Dolly Parton, by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Ed Fotheringham
  • Dolly! The Story of Dolly Parton and Her Big Dream, written by Robyn McGrath and illustrated by Ellen Surrey
  • Jazz for Lunch, written by Jarrett Dapier and pictures by Eugenia Mello
  • The Key from Spain: Flory Jagoda and Her Music, by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Sonja Wimmer
  • Little Rosetta and the Talking Guitar: The Musical Story of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the Woman Who Invented Rock and Roll, by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow
  • Queen of Tejano Music: Selena, by Silvia López and illustrated by Paola Escobar
  • Seven Golden Rings: A Tale of Music and Math, by Rajani LaRocca and illustrated by Archana Sreenivasan
  • Sing a Song: How “Lift Every Voice and Sing” Inspired Generations, by Kelly Starling Lyons and illustrated by Keith Mallett
  • Sing With Me: The Story of Selena Quintanilla, by Diana López and illustrated by Teresa Martinez

And last (alphabetically) but not least is another title that I had a hand in: Sister, Brother, Family: An American Childhood in Music, by Willie Nelson and Bobbie Nelson, co-written by me, and illustrated by Kyung Eun Han.

Thank you, ICAN — and thanks to any of you who add your own music-related picture book recommendations in the comments!