Your favorite songs reimagined as picture books? Yes! Once you start reading these books, it’s hard to get the songs out of your head. What I love about these books that even though the lyrics tell a story, it can often be reinterpreted to circumstances that relate to a young child such as a friend moving away, a mother who works outside the home, and bullying.
What are your favorite songs that you would like to see as a picture book? Thanks for sharing!
Picture Books Based on Song Lyrics
What a Wonderful World song lyrics by Louis Armstrong, adapted by Bob Thiele and George David Weis, and illustrated by Tim Hopgood
Louis Armstrong recorded What A Wonderful Life in 1967. The song sold over one million copies. We used the song for our first Multicultural Children’s Book Day video! [picture book, ages 3 and up]
p.s. Sign up to receive a free diverse children’s book through Multicultural Children’s Book Day. You simply post a review of that book to any social media channel during the last week of January.
Respect song lyrics by Otis Redding, illustrations by Rachel Moss
Otis Redding released the original song Respect in 1965. It became a signature hit for Aretha Franklin in 1967 when she reimagined the song and made a few lyric changes. This picture book combines Otis Redding’s lyrics with Aretha Franklin’s vision of a strong woman deserving respect … it’s an ode to all moms who work, both inside and outside the home! Otis Redding’s version was of a man desperate to keep his woman. [picture book, ages 2 and up]
With a little help from my friends song lyrics by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, illustrated by Henry Cole
It’s nearly impossible to read this book without hearing the Beatles song in your head! Henry Cole does a brilliant job of taking the lyrics of this famous song and turning it into a story of a friendship between two girls. Their friendship is able to surmount the difficulty of distance when one of them moves away. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
This Land is Your Land song lyrics by Bob Dylan, illustrated by Kathy Jakobsen
Woody Guthrie debuted This Land Is Your Land in 1940 and it has gone on to become a beloved folk song inspiring patriotism and inclusion. Illustrations of Bob Dylan’s lyrics in the picture book depict a road trip across America, celebrating the beauty of our great nation. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
If Not For You song lyrics by Bob Dylan, illustrated by David Walker
Bob Dylan’s 1970 song “If Not for You” is reinterpreted as a parent/child relationship of unconditional love. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
Don McLean’s American Pie: A Fable by Don Mclean
At first, I thought this picture book was just the song lyrics of American Pie made into a picture book story, but I was wrong! Don McLean himself tells the story — perhaps his autobiography or perhaps a fable — of his childhood as a paper delivery boy. In this story — perhaps about Don himself — the newspaper delivery boy is lonely and has no friends. Then, one day, there is a note for him, and the newsboy makes his first friend. The friendly notes continue and they make the paper boy very happy. The notes inspire him to write songs. One day, the notes stop. His friend is gone, but is the music gone too? Even in death, his friend remembers the newsboy and a gift of an acoustic guitar finds its way to the boy. “Something has touched him deep inside.” [picture book, ages 4 and up]
African song lyrics by Peter Tosh, illustrated by Rachel Moss
This picture book is a celebration of children of African descent. The song “African” by Peter Tosh was originally released in 1977 on his second solo record, Equal Rights. Peter Tosh, along with Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer, were members of the Jamaican reggae band, The Wailers [picture book, ages 1 and up]
Don’t Stop song lyrics by Christine McVie, illustrated by Nusha Ashjaee
Christine McVie wrote Don’t Stop for Fleetwood Mac as an anthem to pushing forward. In this picture book, her song is reimagined as a rabbit’s hibernation story waiting for spring. [picture book, ages 1 and up]
Good Vibrations song lyrics by Mike Love and Brian Wilson, illustrated by Paul Hoppe
The Beach Boys Mike Love and Brian Wilson encapsulated the surf culture of California in the 1960s so it’s appropriate that their song lyrics are reimagined in this picture book as a day at the beach for a little girl and her dog who spread goodwill everywhere they go. [picture book, ages 1 and up]
We’re Not Gonna Take It song lyrics by Dee Snider, illustrated by Margaret McCartney
Twisted Sister probably did not imagine their song as a Terrible Two anthem but it works! Their 1980s hair band’s antiestablishment anthem is reimagined as three diverse toddlers who resist what their parents want them to do. [picture book, ages 1 and up]
We Got the Beat song lyrics by Charlotte Caffey, illustrated by Kaitlyn Shea O’Connor
The 1980s all-girl band, The Go Go’s, is my jam from my college days when New Wave synth-rock graced every party. It’s entirely appropriate then, that this picture book would be in the form of a dance party where children and parents find their groove inside the house and outside in nature. [picture book, ages 1 and up]
These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ song lyrics by Lee Hazlewood, illustrated by Rachel Moss
These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ was an instant hit for Nancy Sinatra who recorded it in 1966. In this picture book, a very jealous cat must adjust to life when a new puppy joins the family. [picture book, ages 1 and up]
Move the Crowd song lyrics by Eric Barrier and William Griffin, illustrated by Kirk Parrish
American hip hop duo DJ. Eric B. & MC Rakim defined the golden age of rap in the 1980s as the DJ/MC. Their hit single, Move the Crowd, is reimagined in this picture book as an adventure of a boy who gets dragged into a stereo where the world is colorless and dull. He transforms this world life into a vibrant dance party. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
Get Up Stand Up song lyrics by Bob Marley, by Cedella Marley, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Bob Marley’s daughter, Cedella Marley, has taken her father’s anthem of peace, love, and truth and reenvisions it into an anti-bullying picture book. Her father would be proud! [picture book, ages 3 and up]
Every Little Thing song lyrics by Bob Marley, by Cedella Marley, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Based on the song ‘Three Little Birds’ by Bob Marley, his daughter, Cedella Marley, adapts the lyrics into a cheerful story of a boy who doesn’t let anything get him down. Three colorful birds in his life help to light the way! [picture book, ages 2 and up]
One Love song lyrics by Bob Marley, adapted by Cedella Marley, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
A young activist gets her community to transform her neighborhood for the better in this picture book that brings Bob Marley’s message to a young audience. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
p.s. Related posts:
Favorite New Picture Books of 2019
Top 8 Picture Books Featuring Anthropomorphic Foods
New Children’s Picture Books on Koreans and Korean Americans
Picture Books to Get Kids Outdoors
Picture Books set in Asia or about Asian-Americans
To examine any book more closely at Indiebound or Amazon, please click on image of book.
As an Amazon and IndieBound Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Amazon / Barefoot Books / Signed or Inscribed by Me
Amazon / Scholastic / Signed or Inscribed by Me
BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.
2 thoughts on “Picture Books Based on Song Lyrics”
I love this! I can see giving a set of these to new parents who are music lovers.
This list is gold! I’ve chosen two books for a new niece, and will be setting aside “We’re not gonna take it for my sister’s ‘someday’ grandchildren!