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

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The books I picked & why

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 did I love 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. 

By Wynton Marsalis, Paul Rogers (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The creators of Jazz ABZ are back for an encore! With infectious rhythm and rhyme, musical master Wynton Marsalis opens kids’ ears to the sounds around us.

What’s that sound? The back door squeeeaks open, sounding like a noisy mouse nearby — eeek, eeeek, eeeek! Big trucks on the highway rrrrrrrumble, just as hunger makes a tummy grrrrumble. Ringing with exuberance and auditory delights, this second collaboration by world-renowned jazz musician and composer Wynton Marsalis and acclaimed illustrator Paul Rogers takes readers (and listeners) on a rollicking, clanging, clapping tour through the many sounds that fill a neighborhood.


Pokko and the Drum

By Matthew Forsythe,

Book cover of Pokko and the Drum

Why did I love 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.

By Matthew Forsythe,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Pokko and the Drum as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2019
A Today Show Best Book of the Year
A Booklist Book for Youth Editors' Choice 2019
A Boston Globe-Horn Picture Book Honor Book 2020
An NPR Favorite Book of 2019
A Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book
A Quill & Quire 2019 Book for Young People of the Year
"Extraordinary." -Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Inspirational." -Booklist (starred review)
"Laugh-out-loud funny." -Shelf Awareness (starred review)
"Will tickle kids and adults alike." -Kirkus Reviews
"An instant classic." -Quill & Quire (starred review)

From E.B. White Read Aloud honor artist Matthew Forsythe comes a picture book about a…


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 did I love 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.

By Laura Veirs, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Libba as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Elisabeth Cotten was only a little girl when she picked up a guitar for the first time. It wasn't hers-it was her big brother's-and it wasn't strung right-she was left-handed. But she flipped that guitar upside down and backwards and taught herself how to play it anyway. By eleven, she'd written "Freight Train," one of the most famous folk songs. And by the end of her life, everyone from the California beaches to the rolling hills of England knew her music.

This lyrical, loving book from acclaimed singer-songwriter Laura Veirs and debut illustrator Tatyana Fazlalizadeh tells the story of the…


Lupe Lopez: Rock Star Rules!

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

Book cover of Lupe Lopez: Rock Star Rules!

Why did I love 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. 

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

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lupe Lopez as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When a sassy drummer starts kindergarten, the rules of school cramp her style. What’s a young rock star to do?

When Lupe Lopez struts through the doors of Hector P. Garcia Elementary in sunglasses with two taped-up Number 2 pencils—drumsticks, of course—poking from her pocket, her confidence is off the charts. All day, Lupe drums on desks, tables, and chairs while Ms. Quintanilla reminds her of school rules. Lupe has her own rules: 1) Don’t listen to anyone. 2) Make lots of noise. ¡Rataplán! 3) Have fans, not friends. But with her new teacher less than starstruck, and fans hard…


The Bear Must Go on

By Dev Petty, Brandon Todd (illustrator),

Book cover of The Bear Must Go on

Why did I love 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.

By Dev Petty, Brandon Todd (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bear Must Go on as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this hilarious story of theatrical hijinks, plans go awry when four woodland friends stage a show--unless Bear can step up and save the day!

Bear and his woodland friends are putting on a show, and there are lots of plans to be made. Their curtains need sequins! Their hats must be very, very tall! And their tickets have to be shiny! (No one will come if the tickets are dull.)

Behind the scenes, shy Bear takes notes on every detail until his paws ache. But at least he won't have to go on stage. He could NEVER do that!…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in rock music, sound, and theatres?

9,000+ 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 186 books about rock music
Sound Explore 20 books about sound
Theatres Explore 73 books about theatres

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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