20 Songs That Would Make Great Books for Kids

Fantastic news for Ringo fans! His classic song, Octopus’s Garden, is being turned into a children’s book. Simon & Schuster will be printing the book, which will be published as a picture book, in the UK later this Fall and in North America in early 2014.

Within The Beatles Bible (oh yes, there really is such a thing) Ringo explains how he was inspired to write the song:

“I wrote Octopus’s Garden in Sardinia. Peter Sellers had lent us his yacht and we went out for the day… I stayed out on deck with [the captain] and we talked about octopuses. He told me that they hang out in their caves and they go around the seabed finding shiny stones and tin cans and bottles to put in front of their cave like a garden. I thought this was fabulous, because at the time I just wanted to be under the sea too. A couple of tokes later with the guitar – and we had Octopus’s Garden!”

Hearing about the evolution from classic song to a book for kids made me think about other songs we love that should be considered for such treatment. I went through my massive collection of tunes and honed in on some songs that, with the right illustrator, could easily become great books for kids.

  • 20 Songs to Turn into Children’s Books 1 of 18
    20 Songs That Would Make Great Books for Kids

    Not every anthem from our high school and college years would make a great book for our kids, but many of them WOULD. See if we left off any of your favorite songs you think could be a classic children's story.


    Image Credit: Lavinia Marin

  • 99 Red Balloons 2 of 18

    You and I, and a little toy shop

    Buy a bag of balloons with the money we've got

    Set them free at the break of dawn

    'Til one by one, they were gone


    Can't you imagine Nena's 99 Red Balloons as the ultimate counting book for kids?



    Image Credit: 45 Cat

  • Bridge Over Troubled Water 3 of 18

    I'm on your side

    When times get rough

    And friends just can't be found

    Like a bridge over troubled water

    I will lay me down


    Bridge Over Troubled Water would be the book you read to your child after a hard day at school. And then you put on the album and hug each other tight.


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Counting Blue Cars 4 of 18

    Counting Blue Cars, for those who don't remember, is the song that has the refrain, "tell me all your thoughts on God." I imagine this song as a beginning book on faith. 


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Mmmm mmmm mmmm 5 of 18

    Once there was this girl who
    Wouldn't go and change with the girls in the change room
    But when they finally made her
    They saw birthmarks all over her body
    She couldn't quite explain it
    They'd always just been there


    Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm would be such a great kids' book to talk about what makes each of us different and how we can show kindness.


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Boomerang 6 of 18

    Despite the pretty dress and curls 
    You don't throw like other girls 
    You follow through


    Boomerang could be a book about many things, but I have always loved that line and thought it would make for a good jumping off place.


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Dream a Little Dream 7 of 18

    Stars shining bright above you
    Night breezes seem to whisper "I love you"
    Birds singing in the sycamore trees
    Dream a little dream of me


    Oh how I adore this song. I actually wish I could go wake up my son and sing it to him right now. I would love to see what a children's book illustrator could do with the lyrics of Dream a Little Dream of Me.


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • 500 Milies 8 of 18

    In truth the actual lyrics of I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) would not make such a grand children's book. But the idea of someone making this kind of journey would be a clever story. Just, you know, with less getting drunk.


    Image Credit:  Radio Paradise

  • Parents Just Don’t Understand 9 of 18

    I suppose one could argue that an entire TV series was made based on the lyrics of this song as Parents Just Don't Understand certainly beget The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. I still think it would be cute to take some of the lyrics of this song and turn them into a kids' book.


    And when I walked into school, it was just as I thought
    The kids were cracking up laughing at the clothes Mom bought
    And those who weren't laughing still had a ball
    Because they were pointing and whispering
    As I walked down the hall


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Ohh Child 10 of 18

    Ooh-oo child
    Things are gonna get easier
    Ooh-oo child
    Things'll get brighter
    Ooh-oo child
    Things are gonna get easier
    Ooh-oo child
    Things'll get brighter


    Can't you just see Ooh Child as a sweet and simple book for preschoolers? The message is powerful, repetitive, and evokes lots of imagery.


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Let’s Hear it For the Boy 11 of 18

    Let's hear it for the boy 
    Oh, let's give the boy a hand 
    Let's hear it for my baby


    Let's Hear it For the Boy is another song that is easy for me to imagine as a book for a preschooler. This might have more to do with the fact that I sang it a lot to my son and I can imagine the illustrations showing Mamas and babies clapping. 


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Holiday 12 of 18

    Everybody spread the word
    We're gonna have a celebration
    All across the world
    In every nation
    It's time for the good times
    Forget about the bad times, oh yeah
    One day to come together


    It's a feel good Madonna song! Of course Holiday would make a fun and vibrant kids' book.


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • River of Dreams 13 of 18

    In the middle of the night
    I go walking in my sleep
    From the mountains of faith
    To the river so deep


    River of Dreams is another song that would make a lovely bed time story. The imagery within the song is stunning and I can't help but look to Billy Joel's album cover to see where the book might take us.


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • The Dock of the Bay 14 of 18

    Sittin' in the morning sun
    I'll be sittin' when the evening comes
    Watching the ships roll in
    Then I watch them roll away again, yeah


    The Dock of the Bay always makes me see a story in my mind. I always see someone at sunset in a crowded marina waiting to see what happens next. 


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Walk this Way 15 of 18

    She told me to
    Walk this way!
    Talk this way!


    I KNOW! I KNOW! Those are pretty much the only lyrics of Walk This Way that could be used in a children's book because the song isn't exactly elementary school aged friendly. However, I thought it would be cute to take the familiar chorus and turn it into a book about manners.


    Oh yes.


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Who’s Johnny 16 of 18

    Who's Johnny?
    Who's Johnny?
    Who's Johnny?

    My son has a book that is nothing but illustrations of animals and the words "Where is the dog?" This is why I think El DeBarge's hit Who's Johnny could have a chance.


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Three Little Birds 17 of 18

    Singin': "Don't worry 'bout a thing, 
    'Cause every little thing gonna be all right."


    The story of the Three Little Birds would be very welcome in my house. We love this song a lot and often talk about where the birds came from, where they are going, why it is that they can talk. All of this is fodder for a kids' book.


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Walk the Dinosaur 18 of 18

    Boom boom acka lacka lacka boom
    Boom boom acka lacko boom boom
    Boom boom acka lacka lacka boom
    Boom boom acka lacko boom boom

    Basically all you need are the above lyrics and images of dinosaurs and BLAM! Walk the Dinosaur is an instant children's book.


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

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