Want to get kids interested in music? Key into these books

Audrey Wait
Audrey Wait

Mixtapes may be a thing of the past, but readers of all ages still appreciate a good playlist, meaningful lyrics or an impromptu dance party. Check out these books for youths and teens that center on music.

A Soup Opera

By Jim Gill

Jim Gill Inc., 2009

Age 3 and older

A man walks into a restaurant, orders soup, but can’t eat it. Find out why in this hilarious book told through a unique operatic-style song. The man is forced to call in the manager, a policeman, even the president in his quest to solve the problem.

The book is accompanied by a CD of author Jim Gill telling the story so parents and children can sing along to his brilliant presentation, or readers can add their own interpretations by reading the book sans musical accompaniment.

Audrey, Wait!

By Robin Benway

Razorbill, 2009

Age 13 and older

Audrey is an average teenager until her musician ex-boyfriend gets a record deal and writes a breakup song about their relationship. Suddenly everyone has an opinion on Audrey’s life and no one is all that interested in hearing her side of the story. A live confrontation on MTV brings this fun and hilarious story to its dramatic conclusion.

While making real observations about society’s obsession with famous people, this book still manages to be a lighthearted romance full of strong, interesting characters.

The Haters

By Jesse Andrews

Harry N. Abrams, 2016

Age 13 and older

Wes and Cory are decent musicians, but being forced to attend jazz camp is not their idea of a good time. They’re disgusted by the attempts of the other campers to be smooth and cool, and when they’re relegated to the lowest level of band assignments, the summer is shaping up to be a huge fail.

But when they jam with an enthusiastic girl named Ash, magic happens. She convinces the guys that the trio should ditch camp and hit the road, playing gigs along the way. For a group that loves to hate on everything, it’s too much to hope that the road to stardom will be smooth sailing.

Told in a hilarious and distinctive voice, this book is a cool twist on the standard coming-of-age story. And, for anyone who has ever wanted to drop everything and be a rock star, well, read this first!

In Real Life

By Jessica Love

St. Martin’s Griffin, 2016

Age 13 and older

Hannah and Nick are best friends. They talk on the phone for hours, know everything about each other, have confessed their hopes and dreams … oh, also, they’ve never met. Communicating only online, the two are intimate strangers to the extreme.

In a fit of rebellion, Hannah takes off for Las Vegas to meet Nick for real and to confess her romantic feelings for him. But when she discovers that the real Nick is very different from the guy she knew online, how can they ever move past the secrets?

Fast-paced and sweet, this book showcases both the best and worst in people, and will leave readers satisfied with its conclusion and with the lessons Hannah and Nick learn about each other, and about themselves.

The Noisy Paint Box

By Barb Rosenstock

Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2014

Age 3 and older

Vasya Kandinsky was a smart and creative child, but he stunned his family when he began creating crazy art. He maintained that colors spoke to him and sounded like an orchestra. The only way to capture their beauty was to swirl and mix paint in a visual representation of those vibrant, unique sounds. This was art portrayed in a way that had never been seen before.

But as unique things often are, it was misunderstood. Kandinsky’s art teacher told him to paint correctly, or not at all. It was a long time before he was brave enough to pick up a brush again. When he finally did, Kandinsky became one of the first, and most well-known, abstract artists, striving always to create art that made people feel.

Full of incredibly vibrant watercolor illustrations by Mary Grandpre, the book allows readers to experience Kandinsky’s art as if they, too, can see colors translated into sounds. The gorgeous works nearly dance right off the page.

Trombone Shorty

By Troy Andrews

Harry N. Abrams, 2015

Age 3 and older

Set in New Orleans, this is a true story about a young musician who learned to play the trumpet on a broken, found instrument that was twice his size. Pulled out of the crowd by Bo Diddley, he played to a huge festival audience and never looked back. Today, Troy Andrews (better known as “Trombone Shorty”) is a world-recognized musician who strives to offer hope to kids in difficult circumstances who have big dreams.

The gorgeous illustrations leap off the page and create a true feeling of being in the streets of Treme. The music, the sense of community, and the hope and pride Trombone Shorty takes in his music are all instantly recognizable in the beautiful art that works perfectly to convey his triumphant story.

Wendy Dunn is a teen programming librarian at the Fort Worth Library.