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!
If you like this list of diverse books, you’ll love The Ultimate List of Diverse Picture Books. There are over 250 books to use in the classroom and home libraries.
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.
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???!!!
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.
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!
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
This book lists the amazing leading ladies of Broadway! All of my music and theater art teachers will appreciate this book.
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.
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.
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!
I love read alouds, so if you need help implementing or planning read alouds, grab the Free Interactive Read Aloud Guide!