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Our top ten music and dance books

These picturebooks celebrate the joy of music and dance encouraging families to listen to music, make music and have fun moving to the rhythms together.

Our collection includes both stories and non-fiction.

Animal Boogie
Debbie Harter
Barefoot Books
Age 0-3


Set in an Indian rainforest, Animal Boogie is a colourful picturebook with a tuneful rhyme which you can read aloud to your child, sing together and even dance! There is lots to talk about in the colourful illustrations, including playing spot the animals hiding in the jungle.

See our activity page

The Bear and the Piano  
David Litchfield
Frances Lincoln Books

Age 5-9

One day a young bear cub finds a piano in the forest. Gradually he learns to play, and the other bears love to hear him. One day some humans discover the piano playing bear and invite him to play in the city. Soon he is the toast of the town with his name in lights. But he misses the forest and his friends.

This is a stunning picturebook with an appealing story about commitment, success, fame and friendship. If your child enjoys the story, there are two more wonderful books in the series The Bear the Piano, the Dog and the Fiddle and The Bear the Piano and Little Bear’s Concert to enjoy.

See our activity page

The Drum                                                 
Ken Wilson Max, Catell Ronca
Age 0-3

The Drum is a vibrant picture book for the very young which explores body movements, rhythm and life. When the drum starts playing, people start moving. This is a book which will make toddlers and their parents want to beat out rhythms or get up and dance.

See our activity page

Everybody Can Dance
Kara Navolio Ruth-Mary Smith
Brandylane Publishers
Age 3-7

A rhythmic rhyming inclusive picture book celebrating dance and encouraging everyone to get up twist twirl and tap their feet.

Watch a trailer

Watch the story read aloud on CBeebies

Giraffes Can’t Dance  
Giles Andreae, Guy Parker Rees
Orchard Books
Age 3-5

Gerald the giraffe dreads the annual jungle dance – he is just not built for dancing. Luckily a thoughtful cricket sees Gerald’s predicament and is on hand to give him some advice and build his confidence. Gerald finds there is music all around him and that he can create his own dance. A colourful rhyming picturebook which makes this book a popular story to read aloud.

See our activity page

Watch the story read aloud

John’s Turn 
Mac Barnett, ill. Kate Berube,
Walker Books
Age 5-7

Every Friday at John’s school there is a special assembly where children share their talents. John is nervously waiting to show his ballet dancing. As his performance begins, he transforms, lost in the music and the familiar movements which become more and more spectacular. His audience are captivated.

Challenging stereotypical assumptions that ballet is not an activity for boys, this is a simple, appealing and powerful book about having the confidence to be yourself and share your passions.

Luna Loves Dance
Joseph Coelho, Fiona Lumbers
Andersen Press
Age 3-7

Luna loves dancing and looks forward to her dance exam. But when everything goes wrong, she loses confidence and thinks she will never be a dancer. Fortunately, her family help her recover her confidence and love of music and dancing. A joyful and reassuring story, beautifully written and illustrated which celebrates the pleasure of dancing to music, and the importance of family love in coping with life’s ups and downs.

See our activity page for Luna Loves Library Day

Mrs Noah’s Song                           
Jackie Morris, ill. James Mayhew
Frances Lincoln
Age 5-9

Mrs Noah loves to sing, she sings all day long.  She sings the songs her mother taught her and shares them with her children. She encourages her children to listen to the musical sounds around them, the birds and insects, the wind and the sea. On one special day she introduces them to a very special song: the dawn chorus.

This is a book which celebrates the songs we share and introduces children to the music in the natural world around them including the wonder of the dawn chorus.

See here for an activity page for another story about the dawn chorus
See here for another Mrs Noah activity page

Once Upon a Tune
James Mayhew
Otter Barry Books
Age 7+

This is a stunning book containing six stories which have inspired great pieces of music including The Sorceror’s Apprentice and In the Hall of the Mountain King and Scherherazade.

The stories are beautifully told and the illustrations are wonderful with collaged images depicting the story worlds. The back of the book provides information about the composers and the writers whose stories inspired them. There is also a suggested playlist so that families can explore the music inspired by the stories.

A wonderful blend of music, art and storytelling, this is a perfect gift book which may ignite interest in the music which inspired the stories.

The Very Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra
Tim Lihoureau and Philip Noyce, illus Olga Baumert                        
DK Children
Age 5-9

Two children set off on an interactive musical adventure. In a riverbank scene we are introduced to the cello, press a button to hear it play the swan theme from Saint-Saëns Carnival of the Animals. A New York Street scene introduces the clarinet and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. This is a great introduction to the instruments of the orchestra for the very young. Information about composers, instrumentalists and the make-up of the orchestra is also included. Spot the ear worm on each page.