They’ve Got Rhythm: Interactive Musical Books for Toddlers

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Rachel Rosenberg

Senior Contributor

Rachel Rosenberg has been writing since she was a child—at 13, she was published alongside celebs and fellow teens in Chicken Soup For the Teenage Soul 2. Rachel has a degree in Creative Writing from Montreal’s Concordia University; she’s been published in a few different anthologies and publications, including Best Lesbian Love Stories 2008, Little Fiction, Big Truth’s Re/Coded anthology and Broken Pencil magazine. She also appeared on the Montreal episode of the Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids podcast. Her day job is as a Children’s Librarian, where she digs singing and dancing with small humans.

Interactive musical books for toddlers are a fantastic way for kiddos to hear stories while actively engaging through buttons and music. Using the melody buttons to release the songs can be a part of a meaningful learning experience, as the activity provides an opportunity for toddlers to practice matching visuals with noise and fine motor skills. Also, the music featured in some of these interactive musical books for toddlers is lively and energetic, while others on this list showcase soothing and stirring classical pieces. By exposing toddlers to various tempos, their sense of rhythm begins to develop.

Reading any sort of interactive books with your kiddo is a big ol’ boon to their brain, but this list will focus on interactive musical books for toddlers. However, if you are keen for other ways that you and your littles can interact with what they’re reading, you should explore soft books for babies and read-alouds for toddlers.

But I do think that this mini-genre needs some changes. In particular, I was surprised by how many titles focused on classical, even repeating the same songs or artists. I’d love to see more musical styles included! Finally but importantly, at Book Riot, we do our best to actively promote diversity in books and publishing. This list features very few authors and illustrators of colour because, well, unfortunately, I just couldn’t find very many! I’d love to see that change too as diverse authors could lead to more varieties of music.

The Story Orchestra The Magic Flute book cover

The Story Orchestra: The Magic Flute by Katy Flint and Jessica Courtney Tickle​

I have been awed by the quality of the music in the Story Orchestra series — the music clips are brief but they sound so good! Moreover, the illustrations are vibrant and detailed, and the storytelling is solid. At the end of the book, there’s a short glossary alongside information about each piece.

Story Orchestra Swan Lake book cover

The Story Orchestra: Swan Lake by Katy Flint and Jessica Courtney Tickle​

This addition to the Story Orchestra series is another win. Detailed visuals and solid sound quality make this series hard to ignore. These aren’t board books, however, and the buttons require a strong push, so adults should be prepared to read this along with their littler ones.

Welcome to Jazz A Swing-Along Celebration book cover

Welcome to Jazz: A Swing-Along Celebration of America’s Music, Featuring “When the Saints Go Marching In” by Carolyn Sloan and Jessica Gibson

Using a sideboard that features 12 jazzy concepts, styles, and various instruments, this title provides fun tunes while teaching kiddos a musical history lesson. In fact, the book comes with crucial historical context, a primer of key terms, and a suggested playlist.

Welcome to the Symphony book cover

Welcome to the Symphony: A Musical Exploration of the Orchestra Using “Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5” by Carolyn Sloan and James Williamson

Three mice attend the symphony and learn all about orchestral music, the roles of the musicians, and even themes and dynamics.

Poppy and Vivaldi book cover

Poppy and Vivaldi by Magali Le Huche

Poppy the dog and his friends star in this interactive musical adventure series. In this one, readers are swept through the streets of Venice as they attend a glorious carnival. It comes with 16 buttons that play vivid classical music by the composer Vivaldi. It’s a lovely way to introduce kiddos to the excitement of combining music and stories.

Poppy and the Brass Band book cover

Poppy and the Brass Band by Magali Le Huche

Another book in the Poppy series — this one follows Poppy and friends to the circus where they discover the sounds of brass and percussion instruments. The other two books in this series include Poppy and the Orchestra and Poppy and Mozart.

Allegro A Musical Journey book cover

Allegro: A Musical Journey Through 11 Musical Masterpieces by David W. Miles and Anita Barghigiani

Allegro is sick of practicing the boring ol’ piano. He has a bit of a grumpy fit and then is magically whisked away on an adventure that introduces him to the music he’s never heard before, including “Claire de Lune” and “New World Symphony”. All in all, the musical excerpts are a decent length, and the message that music helps us to understand and express ourselves is a lovely one.

ABC and 123 Learning Songs book cover

ABC and 123 Learning Songs by Scarlett Wing and Beatrice Costamagna

This sound book features instrumental versions of popular children’s songs like “Ants Go Marching,” “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” and many others. The art is bright and super cute, and it has all been packaged in a hardy board book format.

Canticos Happy! ¡Feliz! book cover

Canticos Happy! ¡Feliz! by Susie Jaramillo

This board book features eight bilingual songs presented by Nick Jr.’s Canticos characters. Each page spread is split with one side of lyrics in English and the other side written in Spanish. Features eight popular children’s songs such as “Itsy Bitsy Spider/La Araña Chiquitita” and “Little Chickies/Los Pollitos”.

All About Music book cover

All About Music by IglooBooks and Yoss Sanchez

This simple board book features ten instrument sounds, allowing kids to control playing the guitar, harp, flute, drums, piano, and more.

Bedtime Songs Deluxe Sound book cover

Bedtime Songs by Scarlett Wing and Sanja Rescek

Trying to lull your littles into bed? These instrumental versions of sleepy lullabies are paired with comfortingly cozy imagery, and they’ll probably make bedtime a whole lot easier. Songs include “Day Is Done,” “Twinkle, Twinkle,” “Hush Little Baby,” “I See the Moon,” and six others.

Happy Birthday to You A Musical Instrument Song Book cover

Happy Birthday to You: A Musical Instrument Song Book by Nosy Crow and Nicola Slater

Adorable animal musicians are going to their favourite café for a friend’s birthday surprise. In short, this features flute, guitar, violin, and piano in an exciting celebration of what makes birthdays so fun.

Laugh and Sing Silly Animal Songs book cover

Laugh & Sing: Silly Animal Songs by Scarlett Wing and Yi-Hsuan Wu

This has slightly altered versions of popular kids’ songs. “Hairy Had a Little Llama” for “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, for instance. Hilarious but be warned — “Baby Shark” is included and you know that will be played on repeat.

Noisy Orchestra book cover

Noisy Orchestra by Sam Taplin

Kids will love the fun, simple art of penguins, elephants, hippos, turtles, and more. An introduction to the concept of an orchestra, the text covers instruments like the violin, the tuba, and drums. The speaker along the side means that the buttons can be easily pressed individually and together, allowing kids to bring the music into a rousing, unanimous concert.

Campfire Songs book cover

Campfire Songs by Scarlett Wing and Chie Y. Boyd (1 xAOC)

This features ten instrumental versions of songs like “The Grand Ol’ Duke of York,” “Oh! Susanna,” and “The Bear Went Over the Mountain.”

Twas the Night Before Christmas Stories from the Music Box book cover

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (Stories from the Music Box) by Clement C. Moore and Raquel Martin Peinado

It can be Christmas every day with this seasonal sound book. Unlike the others and their traditional sound buttons, this one has a pretty rad windup music mechanism that will remind you of a music box.

Carnival of the Animals book cover

Carnival of the Animals by Fiona Watt and Katie Melrose

Saint-Saens’s “Carnival of the Animals” accompanies delightfully vibrantly expressive illustrations of elephants stomping, fish swimming and even fossils dancing in the ground. As a bonus, the board book comes with a QR code so kids can listen to the music online.

Listen to the Dance Music book cover

Listen to the Dance Music by Nosy Crow and Marion Billet

This book features a variety of music types, showcasing styles like the waltz, tango, Charleston, salsa, rock ‘n’ roll, and hip-hop.

So there, these are my top 18 picks for interactive music books for toddlers. I hope you enjoy reading and listening.