Diverse Picture Books for Art and Music Teachers

Jul, 07, 2020

Music and Art Teachers should definitely join in the fun of reading to students. There are tons of books that can be read in those classes that work effortlessly! All teachers should have a diverse classroom library! Check out this list to use in your classroom now! #musicteacher #artteacher #diverseclassroomlibrary

Books can be and should be read in every classroom! I really wanted to make this list for music and art teachers to help encourage literacy in your classroom. I can see your creative minds using these books to create engaging lessons!

I will update this list as I find more books! Follow me on Instagram to get updates and ideas for other picture books! If there’s a book you think I should add, comment below!

Just a friendly reminder, I am an Amazon Affiliate, so if you decided to use the links below to purchase the books, I do get a commission. The price of the books does not change for you. ❤️

I’m also a Bookshop Affiliate. Bookshop works with local independent bookstores to deliver books to your door. You can shop this list on Bookshop here.

The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons by Natascha Biebow

The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons explains how inventor Edwin Binney created everyone’s favorite crayons!⁣

Readers learn how Edwin has several failures before he creates the perfect concoction!⁣

My students were engaged immediately!⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre

Matty LOVES glue, like most kids do, but his love is a little extreme. One day in art class he goes overboard and he finds himself in a sticky mess. 

I know art and classroom teachers can relate to this one. Why must they use so much glue???!!!

When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill

DJ Kool Herc, one of the grandfather’s of Hip-Hop. A lot of the music that students enjoy today can be traced back to DJ Kool Herc. Use this book to teach students how the music they love today got started. Bookshop Affiliate Link

Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery by Sandra Neil Wallace

This is an excellent book to show students that it is okay to have multiple interests. 

Ernie Barnes always wanted to become an artist, but his art career got sidetracked when he was drafted to play in the NFL.⁣

My students loved how he was a football player and an artist, especially my boys!⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

How Jelly Roll Morton Invented Jazz by Jonah Winter

Jelly Roll Morton was one of the early jazz composers that helped make jazz well known. If you let him tell it, he invented jazz. ⁣

Whether or not he is credited as the inventor of jazz, ⁣his contributions, of course, laid the foundation for other jazz musicians.

The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors by Chris Barton

Do you know the Day-Glo Brothers?⁣

If you love bright fluorescent colors, you have the Switzer brothers to thank!⁣

Learn how Bob and Joe Switzer’s invention brightened up our world! ⁣

This was a really fun book! I love how the illustrations progress from gray and white to bright fluorescent colors!⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

Who Stole Mona Lisa? by Ruthie Knapp

What I loved about Who Stole Mona Lisa? is that the author tells the story from Mona Lisa’s point of view! ⁣

In 1911 she was stolen, and we learn about what she goes through those two years she was missing!⁣

My students and I were not expecting how fun this book would be, add this to your list!!⁣

Celia Cruz, Queen of Salsa by Veronica Chambers

Cuban singer Celia Cruz was known for her amazing voice as a child. People would often stop outside her house to hear her sing. ⁣

My students didn’t know who she was when I read the book, but when I played a few of her songs many students were able to recognize her voice. Bookshop Affiliate Link

In Her Hands: The Story of Sculptor Augusta Savage by Alan Schroeder

Augusta Savage was a sculptor from Florida who moved to New York City to attend art school.⁣⁣

⁣⁣She was so talented she completed two years of school in 6 weeks!⁣⁣

⁣⁣Augusta eventually shared her love of art and became an art teacher. In Harlem, she opened an art studio where she would help children discover their love of art.⁣⁣

⁣⁣Augusta made busts of W.E.B. Du Bois and Marcus Garvey! Her most famous art piece was Gamin, a bust of an African American boy.  Bookshop Affiliate Link⁣⁣

Pocket Full of Colors: The Magical World of Mary Blair, Disney Artist Extraordinaire by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville

Did you know that Mary Blair was the lead designer for Disney World’s It’s a Small World boat ride?⁣

She also did some design work for Disney movies, Cinderella and Peter Pan. ⁣

Do you remember Little Golden Books? Well, she illustrated some of those as well!⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

A Voice Named Aretha by Katheryn Russell-Brown

A Voice Named Aretha starts when the Queen of Soul was a child. The reader learns she always had a powerful voice, and even as a child her voice drew crowds.

When she was young, you could find tons of celebrities enjoying the company of her family. Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr were frequent visitors of the Franklin home.

My students thought they didn’t know who Aretha was until I played RESPECT.  Bookshop Affiliate Link

Queen of Tejano Music: Selena by Silvia Lopez

Selena takes us through Selena’s life, starting with her childhood. ⁣I could see music and art teachers using this book because Selena also designed her own clothes. 

This is a long book, but luckily there are great starting and stopping points that make it easy to take your time. ⁣Bookshop Affiliate Link

A is for Audra: Broadway’s Leading Ladies from A to Z by John Robert Allman

This book lists the amazing leading ladies of Broadway! All of my music and theater art teachers will appreciate this book. Bookshop Affiliate Link

Women Artists A to Z by Melanie LaBarge

Women Artist A to Z is another book filled with amazing women. There are brief descriptions for each woman listed in the book. 

I only knew three artists listed; Frida Kahlo, Maya Lin, and Georgia O’Keefe.⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

Anywhere Artist by Nikki Slade Robinson

This book is all about a little girl who can make art anywhere and out of anything! I can see art teachers using this book at the beginning of the year to show students that anyone can be an artist.  Bookshop Affiliate Link

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat

Radiant Child has gorgeous illustrations and is a great childhood story of the unforgettable artist, Basquiat.⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

Music and art teachers should read to their students frequently, especially since there is an abundance of amazing art and music themed picture books in school libraries! I’ve heard numerous principals say  “all teachers are reading teachers” and I agree.

The books listed above should be a great starting point to help build your classroom library. If you need more, check out The Ultimate List of Diverse Picture Books, there is special section full of books about the arts, that is perfect for theatre, music, and art teachers. Check it out!

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Melissa Nikohl

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