Books Based on Traditional Songs      Books based on Original Songs         Picture Books with a Song in the Story           Books With A Beat   

Rhythm is the foundation of music and language, and the following “books with a beat” help build a sense of rhythm with lots of repetition and words, phrases, sounds, or sentences that invite playful participation! Have fun by exaggerating or drawing out the sounds, and using different voices (high, low, fast, slow, nasal), Sometimes you can even add some finger-snapping, clapping, or thigh-slapping. Babies love it when you tap the pages making a sound that reinforces the beat. If you are using these books as a teacher or librarian, be sure to practice reading them a couple of times first, as they often have tongue-twisting words and phrases. They are just plain fun, and draw children into the rhythm of oral language as well as written words and illustrations.

As always, I recommend you check your local library for them first. Some are out of print, but if you really love them and are persistent, you can usually find them used or even new on the Internet. is a good place to start.

Bee-Bim Bop, by Linda Sue Park "
Mix-mix rice" is a traditional Korean dish. In bouncy rhyming text, a hungry child tells of helping her mother make bee-bim bop: shopping, preparing ingredients, setting the table, and sitting down to enjoy a favorite meal. The enthusiasm of the narrator is conveyed in the whimsical illustrations, which bring details from the artist’s childhood in Korea to his depiction of a modern Korean-American family. The book includes Linda Sue’s own bee-bim bop recipe!

Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum, by Lisa E Wheeler

Cha Cha Chimps , by Julia Durango
Irresistible rhymes and lots of repetition make it hard to not get up and dance as you read this very fun book!

Charlie Parker Played Be Bop, by C Raschka
A favorite with children's librarians!

Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3, by Bill Marin Jr, Michael Sampson, and Lois Ehlert

Chicka Chica Boom Boom, by Bill Martin
A classic story with letters of the alphabet as the characters!

Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo, by Kevin Lewis
Follow the toy train as it makes its way around its young owner’s bedroom and into his bed at bedtime! Lots of opportunities to use loud, soft, and exuberant voices as the train moves along ( I repeat each chugga-chugga, choo-choo because they’re so much fun to say!).

Dan the Taxi Man, by Eric Ode
Ride along with Dan as he picks up all the members of a cool band to take them to a gig. Sooo much fun making the sounds of all the jazzy instruments!

Dancing Feet, by Lindsey Craig and Marc Brown
Vibrant illustrations and simple repeated text packed with rhythm! Be sure to use different voices for the animals to add to the fun!

Down on the Farm, by Merrily Kutner

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb, by Al Perkins
This book is so rhythmic that you feel like you're playing the drums just reading it! Very fun!

Jackhammer Sam, by Peter Mandel, illustrated by David Catrow
This over-the-top book is a real hit with construction-loving children, and you can just hear the LOUD INSTRUSIVE destructive pounding of the jackhammer as the text takes over your voice in the reading!

Jazzmatazz, by Stephanie Calmenson

Jazz Fly, by Matthew Gollub, illustrated by Karen Hanke
Although this book comes with a CD of the song, it’s a pretty complex song and the book lends itself to simply being read with all the wonderful rhythms and sounds!

Monkey and Me, by Emily Gravett

Rap a Tap Tap: Here's Bojangles - Think of That! (Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Books), by Leo and Diane Dillon.
Try this with even the youngest children. You’ll be surprised at how they are drawn to the repetition and rhythm.

Tanka Tanka Skunk! By Steve Web
This may be the most fun book with a beat ever! By the second reading children will be loudly joining in with their voices and their bodies! It’s all about fun with words, and the sounds that make them!

Trashy Town, by Andrea Zimmerman
Although out of print, this has been popular with children’s librarians and so can usually be found at the library. Children love following the trash truck around the town joining Mr. Gilly as he dumps and smashes the trash! Just plain FUN!.