One of my greatest joys as a cat owner has been introducing my cats to the music I loved when I was young. I play them artists like Queen, Led Zeppelin, Harry Nilsson, and of course, Cat Stevens, and they dance around and swish their tails to the beat. Okay, that last part isn’t true, but two of my cats are named Zevon and Farrokh (aka Freddie Purrcury) after my favorite musicians.
No, my cats don’t care about music, but isn’t it nice when you can introduce the music you love to a new generation? I remember loving all the same songs my parents did as a young child. When I got older, I rebelled like most kids do and found my own favorite bands, like Guns N’ Roses. And now as an adult, I find myself listening to everything from my youth. It’s the best of both worlds.
And it’s fun to share things that made you happy when you were a kid with a younger generation. I don’t have children, but I have a niece and nephew, and it was a blast to play fun songs like “Hound Dog” and “Crocodile Rock” for them when they were little. Children love music with a snappy beat, whether it’s “Baby Shark” or rock and roll.
One fun way to introduce classic bands and your favorite music to kids is with books! They get the experience of reading and learning while you can take a walk down memory lane. And even if you don’t have kids, these books are fun to collect for yourself and perfect to give as gifts for baby showers and birthdays. I wish someone had given me a David Bowie board book when I was little! Here are a few of the great recent children’s books that highlight some of the biggest names in music. I can confirm these little music books are wonderful, because someone I know has them all. (Spoiler: It’s me. I own them.)
Let's begin by taking things waaaaaaay back to the King of Rock and Roll: Elvis Presley! This delightfully illustrated board book will teach your little rockers about opposites. And you won't need a "hound dog" to find them! For example, check out how Elvis had smooth hair, but rough sideburns. And how he wore a long jumpsuit and a short lei. Do you get the picture, mama? You'll want to step on as many "blue suede shoes" as you have to in order to get this fun book! You'll thank me, thank me very much.
There's no denying that KISS were one of the flashier, most colorful bands of their time, with their wild outfits, face paint, and pyrotechnics. So they are a great choice to teach kids about different colors! Revisit iconic KISS memories and items with the book's brightly colored illustrations, while educating your little rock star about the colors of the rainbow. Pink tongues, orange fireworks, black-and-white face paint - such imagery! It will have your toddlers rocking under the white lights with glee while making you want to dust off your silver platform boots.
And who doesn't love David Bowie? The legendary musical chameleon, known throughout the decades for his lavish outfits and exceptionally appealing tunes, will teach your little "rebel rebels" all about the exciting world of adjectives! Put on your "red shoes" as you learn about shiny lightning bolts, high boots, spiky hair, and more. The simplified text that accompanies the vivid illustrations is perfect for reading aloud to your "absolute beginners."
"She’s got a smile that it seems to me / Reminds me of childhood memories…" This is a beautiful picture book, featuring colorful paintings alongside the words from one of the biggest songs of rock and roll: "Sweet Child o' Mine" by Guns N’ Roses. Lyrics from the classic song accompany illustrations that are influenced by the adventures of lead singer Axl Rose's daughters, Maya and Natalia Rose, who grew up touring with the band. It's a must-have for any Guns N’ Roses fan!
And stay tuned for Baby Janis: A Book about Nouns, coming in 2021!
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Liberty Hardy is a Book Riot senior contributing editor, co-host of All the Books, and above all else, a ravenous reader. She resides in Maine with her husband and her cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon, who hate to read.