Best diverse singalong books
Two of my most favorite things to do, with our son and on my own, are singing and reading. So it probably won’t surprise you that our 5 year old’s book collection includes a lot of singalong books! Each time I offer a storytime through my Barefoot Books business, I open with at least one singalong to break the ice with the kids.
I love singing with and to children because it’s fun and adds beauty to our lives. But there are lots of other benefits of music for children. For young kids, music can help them work through their really big feelings, ones that can’t always put in words. It develops skills they need for literacy. Music is also an easy way to start experiencing other cultures.
Today, I’m sharing 10 of my favorite books that either come with singalong CDs, or are perfect for singing along to on your own.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to my Amazon Associates account, as well as links to my Barefoot Books storefront. If you purchase items through these links, I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Ten Best Multicultural Singalong Books
Knick Knack Paddy Whack by Christiane Engel and SteveSongs
I’m not sure what makes Knick Knack Paddy Whack so fun to sing. (I think my son likes the idea of giving a dog a bone. Mean old Mama won’t let him have a pet right now.)
This edition from Barefoot Books includes an animated CD with a New Orleans jazz style version of the song. If you put the CD in a computer, you’ll be able to see Engel’s charming collage style illustrations come to life with gentle animation. There’s a track with the full music, as well as a karaoke track for kids who want to be the star.
As each verse builds, a new child who plays a different instrument enters the song, until it reaches its lively ending.
Happy! by Pharrell Williams
Normally, I shy away from children’s books written by celebrities. But Happy! by Pharrell Williams is my go-to workout song, and our 5 year old has taken quite a liking to it. He thinks the idea of a “room without a roof” is hilarious. The book’s photographs by Amanda Pratt are quirky, bright, and are filled with diversity that I wish more children’s books had.
Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush by Sophie Fatus and Fred Penner
Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush is an ideal song for helping young children learn a before school morning routine. In this edition from Barefoot Books, kids get to see how four different children, from Britain, Mali, China, and India, start their day. Parents and teachers can help children spot the similarities and differences in each child’s preparataions. The final verse teaches kids how to say “goodbye” in each of the children’s languages.
Like the other Barefoot Books singalongs, it includes a CD that can be played for music only, or in a computer for gentle video animation.
One is a Drummer: A Book of Numbers by Roseanne Thong and Grace Lin
This rhyming book, which explores Chinese culture as kids count from one to ten, probably wasn’t written as a book to sing to. But I learned from Mia at Pragmatic Mom that it can be sung perfectly to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.
Children watch as the main character wins a dragon boat race, looks over a game of mahjong, and enjoys fish balls on a stick.
Space Song Rocket Ride by Sunny Scribens, David Sim, and Mark Collins
This playful singalong book with CD takes kids on a journey to outer space that’s part imagination, part exploration of the solar system. I love singing this particular book with groups of kids because they enjoy helping me count down to blastoff at the beginning of the song. With each verse, we move farther out from earth, to the planets, our solar system, and finally the entire galaxy.
There are also bonus educational notes that show a diagram of the planets, and explain about interesting phenomenon like satellites, shooting stars and asteroids.
This is another title from Barefoot Books. You’re probably noticing there’s a lot of them, huh? I’ve included so many because of the high quality of both the books themselves, and the musical quality on the CDs. Head here to see this month’s special discounts and offers from Barefoot Books.
He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands by Kadir Nelson
I love the warmth, hope, and dignity that Kadir Nelson’s illustrations are filled with in each and every one of his books. “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” is an African-American spiritual, so his illustrations of Black families experiencing the wonders of creation are especially fitting.
Dinosaur Rap by John Foster, Debbie Harter, and Mikey Henry Jr.
At our house, we’re especially fond of singalong books that incorporate movement. In Barefoot Books’ Dinosaur Rap, kids can click their claws like a T Rex and flap their flippers like a shonisaurus. The children who dance along with the dinos have many different skin tones, and one of the dancers also uses a walker to support her moves. Parents and teachers who are fans of old school hip hop will especially enjoy the music.
For dinosaur experts in the making (like my dino-obsessed 5 year old), there are 9 pages of educational notes with vibrant illustrations.
The Shape Song Swingalong by Stevesongs and David Sim
If your children watch PBS Kids, you’ve probably seen one of Stevesongs upbeat performances in between shows. In this Barefoot Books singalong, children see all the things that they can create with simple shapes and lines. I should tell you, the chorus is a bit of an earworm, but in the best possible way!
The Neighborhood Sing-Along by Nina Crews
If you want to introduce children to a host of traditional songs, from “La Bamba” to “I’m a Little Teapot” to “Down By The Riverside,” this book is for you. Crews illustrates the songs with photographs of children of many different ethnicities going through their days in urban neighborhoods. More than 30 songs are included.
Up, Up, Up by Susan Reed and Rachel Oldfield
Be sure to grab some play silks or a parachute before you play the CD for Up, Up, Up. The lively chorus for this hot air adventure is perfect for a movement activity, whether at home or in the classroom. As children float through the clouds, they see the world’s many different landscapes, animals, and more.
If this book and the other Barefoot Books singalong books I’ve shared here have caught your attention, head here to see this month’s special discounts and offers.