10 Picture Books to Sing |

10 Picture Books to Sing

Today, I'm blogging about my 10 favorite books to sing. There are so many out there, but these are the ones I've used year after year, both in my music classroom and as a parent!

These books are a great way to end a lesson, or to provide a calm environment after an exciting activity. Singing these books can also be a great way to teach students a new song, to improve students' listening skills, and for parents and children, can be a great bedtime routine! It can also be a great way to build their literacy and language skills, as you could ask them what happened in the story, what they think will happen, who the characters were, etc.

Please note that there are affiliate links within this post; I included links to most of the books on Amazon. Here goes!

10 picture books to sing: Great list for music teachers and for parents!

#1: "Hush Little Baby" by Marla Frazee

I've had this one in my library for years; it's one of my favorites to introduce lullabies to students. The illustrations are beautiful, and the words are nice and big at the bottom of each page, so students can read or sing along.

When I first read it to students, we first discuss what good listening behavior looks like. This is a good way to introduce audience etiquette! Then, I simply sing the song. 

Honestly, you can hear a pin drop when singing this book to them! Even those high-energy classes sit quietly and listen. Many parents sing this song to kids, so it has a really nice calming effect on them!

After I sing the book, I ask them if they know what kind of song this is, and many are able to define it as a lullaby. Then we discuss who lullabies are sung to, who sings lullabies (parents, grandparents, babysitters, etc.) and why (to get the baby to go to sleep, to calm them, etc.) 

After introducing this book, in another lesson, I play the song on dulcimer and sing it. I simply finger pick a pattern (melody string, second string, third string, second string), with the strings tuned DDA, moving back and forth between mi and fa. Again, kids are transfixed and very quiet when listening! I love hearing their stories, like "My mom sings that to me every night!" It's so sweet! 

#2: "All the Pretty Little Horses" by Linda Saport
This is another great book to reinforce the term "lullaby" (and is one of my favorites I've sung to my own daughters!) The chalk illustrations are beautiful, and again, the book has such a calming effect!

#3: "Summertime" by Heyward and Wimmer
"Summertime" by George Gershwin is one of my favorite songs, so I simply love this book! You could either sing the song to students or play a recording. The lyrics are just stunning, especially, "One of these mornings, you're gonna rise up singing. And you'll spread your wings and you'll take to the sky." So powerful for children to hear, whether they are your students or your own children!
#4: "Cat goes fiddle-i-fee" by Paul Galdone
I love singing this book to my Kindergarteners, because it's a cute little song, and because it's a great way for students to explore their voices. Some of the sounds in the book are actually sounds animals make (like "moo" for cow), but some of them are just plain silly (like "chimmy-chuck" for a hen.) I talk about which ones are real and which are silly, and have students try all of the sounds! After several pages, Kindergarteners can sing along with "Cat goes fiddle-i-fee," which repeats at the end of each page.
#5: "The Tailor and the Mouse" by Feierabend and McGann
This is another one of my favorite songs, so I just love this book! The illustrations are really colorful and fun, and it's a great way to teach the song. After students have heard a few verses, you could have them sing the response each time!
#6: "I got two dogs" by Lithgow and Neubecker
This fun book includes a recording of John Lithgow singing the song. The kids absolutely LOVE this song about two dogs named Fanny and Blue, and I've used it to reinforce the concept of "echo." This is one they beg for weeks after we first read it!
#7: "Who killed Cock Robin?" by Kevin O'Malley
This is another one of my favorites. The folk song (which can be found here) can be sung along to the pictures in this book (although you may want to vary from the written text and repeat the last line on each page, as is done in the folk song.) I've sung this to fourth and fifth graders, and they love figuring out the mystery! The book is out-of-print; the picture above links to the book on www.alibris.com.
#8: "Sunshine on my shoulders" by Denver and Canyon
This became one of my favorites after Christopher Canyon and his wife came to my school several years ago for an author visit. The illustrations are beautiful, and who doesn't love the song "Sunshine on my shoulders" by John Denver? I've used the song to discuss the lyrics, and to discuss emotions. I've even had students create new lyrics of what makes them happy (i.e. "Candy in my belly makes me happy!")
#9: "Risseldy Rosseldy" by Feierabend and Poulin
This is another great picture book by John Feierabend; I suggest looking him up on West Music or Amazon to find his picture books AND his awesome music education resources! I've used this picture book with this octavo by Jay Broeker, with my choir. It was a fun and different way to learn the song, and third, fourth, and fifth graders still do love picture books!
#10: "Simple Gifts" by Chris Raschka
I also used this picture book with a choir, to help learn the song "Simple Gifts." Again, it's a great way to teach a song, and the illustrations by Raschka are so quirky and fun (almost Picasso-esque!) If you haven't checked out other picture books by Raschka, I highly recommend "Charlie Parker plays Be-bop"!
If you're looking for more picture books, check out my "Picture books" board on Pinterest:

If you're looking for more picture books to use in your classroom, check out this set:

What are your favorite picture books to sing? I'd love to hear...feel free to comment below. Happy reading and singing!



  1. Love the Who Killed Cock Robin book- I just found it last year when my fourth graders studied a mystery genre unit and I was looking for something to integrate with their unit. It is fabulous! My kids also love Sunshine on My Shoulders and another John Denver book/song: Grandma's Feather Bed. I just bought I Got Two Dogs last month and just listened to it Friday on the way home in the car and my daughter and I scared some people in the car next to us with the howling part- hysterical! Great post!!! Aimee @http://ofortunaorff.blogspot.com

    1. I've seen Grandma's Feather Bed but haven't used it....will have to do that! Thanks, Amy!

  2. I love this! It's such a smart idea and I would have never thought to do this. As a music educator in training, this makes me want to work with younger students more. Great ideas and great resources!

  3. As a music major with a love of reading, this makes my heart happy. I love the prospect of combining the teaching of reading with the teaching of music, especially since all students learn differently, and this would help more musical students read. I hope that this works to instill a lifelong love of music AND reading in students.