The best children’s books for future rock stars

Who am I?

I am not a rock star but I do play a mean (computer) keyboard. My debut picture book, How to Be a Rock Star, was inspired by my musical children and our endless hours jamming as a family band. I was always on the lookout for books to inspire my little rock star, and because they were hard to come by, I wrote one! These books will inspire your budding musician, or just help you embrace a spirit of creative play in any way they want to rock.

I wrote...

How to Be a Rock Star

By Lisa Tolin, Daniel Duncan (illustrator),

Book cover of How to Be a Rock Star

What is my book about?

How to Be a Rock Star is a tongue-in-cheek guide to everything a kid needs to know to start a rock band. Becoming a rock star isn't easy. From finding the right instrument to mastering the best dance moves, to taking your band on the road, there's a lot to consider! And that's not to mention dealing with critics, crazed fans, and a little brother with a chocolate milk problem.... Luckily, this giggle-inducing book has everything you need to know to make it big.

“A joyous, raucous must-have manual for little rock stars everywhere.” - Savannah Guthrie, Today show co-anchor

The books I picked & why

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Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!: A Sonic Adventure

By Wynton Marsalis, Paul Rogers (illustrator),

Book cover of Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!: A Sonic Adventure

Why this book?

This picture book by jazz great Wynton Marsalis was one of my favorites to read to my little rock star when he was a baby. It’s musical without being sing-songy, and celebrates everyday sounds like washboards or squeaking doors that become musical if you listen right. My son was mesmerized by the noises and rhythm, and I felt more musical just by reading it. 

Pokko and the Drum

By Matthew Forsythe,

Book cover of Pokko and the Drum

Why this book?

Pokko’s parents give her a drum and soon regret it, as you might imagine. (In my own book, Mom says, “don’t even think about a drum kit.”) But sending Pokko outside begins a beautiful symphonic journey that turns Pokko into a leader who makes sure her bandmates don’t eat each other. In the end, even her parents are swept away (literally) by the beautiful music.

Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten

By Laura Veirs, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh (illustrator),

Book cover of Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten

Why this book?

When my son was a rocking toddler, he needed everything just so—a twisted guitar strap could ruin his gig. We both drew inspiration from Elizabeth Cotten, who managed to play guitar despite being left-handed and teaching herself upside down and backwards. By the age of 11, Cotten had written “Freight Train,” one of the most famous folk songs of the last century. Take that, perfectionism.

Lupe Lopez: Rock Star Rules!

By E.E. Charlton-Trujillo, Pat Zietlow Miller,

Book cover of Lupe Lopez: Rock Star Rules!

Why this book?

Rock stars don’t love following rules, so you can imagine that starting kindergarten is a problem. Lupe arrives wearing sunglasses and ready to use her pencils as drum sticks. I love that this book celebrates a girl who wants to rock without cramping her style. Lupe may have to learn to follow rules and be a good friend, but any doubts about her stardom are quickly dismissed. 

The Bear Must Go on

By Dev Petty, Brandon Todd (illustrator),

Book cover of The Bear Must Go on

Why this book?

If your rock star is a little shy about sharing her talents, she might relate to Bear. When it’s time to put on a show, Bear’s friends focus on making shiny tickets, sequined curtains, and very tall hats while Bear takes notes. As the title suggests, it’s up to Bear to actually figure out the show. As someone much more comfortable taking notes (and finding just the right pen and notebook first), I find Bear highly relatable.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in rock music, sound, and theatres?

5,887 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about rock music, sound, and theatres.

Rock Music Explore 129 books about rock music
Sound Explore 16 books about sound
Theatres Explore 52 books about theatres

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Three Pigs, The Honeybee, and They All Saw a Cat if you like this list.