{I’m going to warn you in advance: This is a LONG post! But I thought it would be a good resource.}
You know that Juliet and I love to read, but did you also know that we love to sing? In fact, we have a nightly post-bath singing session that Juliet loves almost as much (maybe even more) than our daily reading time.
I say that she might love it even more because if for some reason we have to skip book time, she is fine. But if I should dare to suggest that we skip singing time, well, let’s just say that things get pretty ugly. Tears, screaming, pleading, sobbing, the ever-popular collapsing into a limp heap on the floor, etc. ensues. (You have young kids. You know what I’m talking about here.)
To say that this music time is special to us both would be an understatement. We both look forward to it and enjoy it immensely. At this point, you are probably imagining me as some sort of Latina version of Maria from The Sound of Music, but let me assure you that is far from the truth.
While I very much ENJOY singing, I am by no means GOOD at it. (Change your mental image from Maria on a mountain top to Cameron Diaz singing kareoke on My Best Friend’s Wedding.) And while I think I have a fairly decent memory, I find that if left to rely solely upon it for lyrics, I can usually only remember parts of a verse, just the chorus, or a few random bars of any given song.
So to help my feeble mind get through an entire song correctly, I enlisted the help of…wait for it…books! (Are you surprised?)
I discovered that the library has a really good selection of songbooks in the nonfiction section. You can find all kinds of books to sing along with from traditional songbooks (with sheet music) to picture books (books that illustrate one song with a line of lyrics on each page).
Since Juliet is a very visual learner, these books have helped her sit down and focus on the words of the song as we sing them. She enjoys the pictures as much as the music itself.
I wanted to share the songbooks that we have enjoyed together over the past year. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it does cover a wide range of song styles and traditions.
I’ve divided the books into 5 sections: Nursery Rhymes/TraditionalLullabiesFolk SongsCamp SongsHolidaysReligious/SpiritualPatriotic (American), and Other. Feel free to skip over any categories that do not interest you.
Hopefully, it gives you a place to start in your search for books you can sing to.
Nursery Rhymes/Traditional:

The Golden Songbook: A Collection of Favorite Songs and Singing Games for Children

Some songs inside:
1. Frere Jacques
2. Sing a Song of Sixpence
3. Oats, Peas, Beans, and Barley Grow
4. Hey Diddle Diddle
5. Pop Goes the Weasel
6. Did You Ever See a Lassie?
7. Oh, Dear! What Can the Matter Be?


8. Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star as told and illustrated by Iza Trapani


9. I’m a Little Teapot as told and illustrated by Iza Trapani


10. Shoo Fly as told and illustrated by Iza Trapani


11. Row Row Row Your Boat as told and Illustrated by Iza Trapani


12. Mary Had a Little Lamb as told and illustrated by Iza Trapani


13. How Much Is That Doggie in the Window? as told and illustrated by Iza Trapani

14. Old MacDonald by Amy Schwartz

15. Cat Goes Fiddle-i-Fee by Paul Galdone
16. The Farmer in the Dell illustrated by Kathy Parkinson

 


Lullabies:


Lullabies: An Illustrated Songbook, Music Arranged by Richard Kapp
You’ve heard me talk about about this one before. There was a time when we sang through this one every night before bed. Here is the list of ones we know (there are several more that I just am not familiar with.)
20. Hush, Little Baby
21. Dance to Your Daddy
22. Now the Day is Over
23. All the Pretty Little Horses
24. Sleep, Baby, Sleep
25. Brahms’ Lullaby
26. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
27. All Through the Night
28. Skidamarink
29. Day Is Done
30. Rock-a-Bye Baby
31. Little Boy Blue
32. Kumbayah
33. Toora, Loora, Loora
Folk Songs:
Gonna Sing My Head Off!: American Folk Songs for Children Collected and Arranged by Kathleen Krull, Illustrated by Allen Garns
This is the songbook I have been searching for ever since Juliet was born. It has some of my very favorites that I have been unable to find anywhere else. There are also a ton more that I don’t even know and I am sure are just as wonderful. Here are the ones we love:
34. Buffalo Gals
35. Clementine
36. Down in the Valley
37. Git Along, Little Dogies
38. Go Tell it On the Mountain
39. Home on the Range
40. I’ve Been Working on the Railroad
41. Michael Row the Boat Ashore
42. Oh, Susannah!
43. On Top of Old Smokey
44. Red River Valley
45. The Riddle Song (I Gave my Love a Cherry)
46. Shall We Gather At the River?
47. She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain
48. Sweet Betsey From Pike
49. Take Me Out to the Ball Game
50. There’s a Hole in the Bucket
51. This Land is Your Land
52. This Little Light of Mine



53. She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain by Suzanne Beaky
54. Old Chisholm Trail: A Cowboy Song by Rosalyn Schanzer
55. Buffalo Girls by Bobette McCarthy (no image available)



56. John Langstaff’s Frog Went A-Courtin’ Illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky
I had never heard of this song, but fell in love with it immediately. The illustrations in this version (there are many out there) are incredible. We LOVE this book and have recently added it to our home library.

57. Over in the Meadow  by Ezra Jack Keats
Camp Songs:
58. Make New Friends Illustrated by Nan Brooks

59. Make New Friends
60. Rise and Shine
61. Peanut Butter and Jelly
62. Worms
63. Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee
64. Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh
65. Found a Peanut
66. Little Bunny Foo Foo
67. Taps
Holidays:

Over the River and Through the Wood

68. Over the River and Through the Wood



69. Away in a Manger
70. Silent Night
71.We Wish You a Merry Christmas
72. Jingle Bells
73. Good King Wenceslas
74. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
75. O Little Town of Bethlehem
76. The Holly and the Ivy
77. I Saw Three Ships
79. The First Noel
80. O Christmas Tree
81. Deck The HallsIllustrated by Michael Hague (no image available)
82. Hilary Knight’s Twelve Days of Christmas
83. Brian Wildsmith’s the Twelve Days of Christmas

84. We Three Kings by Olga Zharkova
85. The Little Drummer Boy by Kristina Rodanas
86. Winter Wonderland, Illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers
Religious/Spiritual: (I realize that this section is very limited as it only contains songs from our own religious tradition.)

I Can Be Happy in Jesus: Little Songs for Little Souls for Toddlers created by Steven Elkins, Illustrated by Lynne Davis (comes with a cd)

87. I’ve Got Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy
88. He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands
89. O How I Love Jesus
90. Rolled Away
91. Jesus In the Morning
92. Jesus Loves the Little Children
93. He Keeps Me Singing as I Go
94. I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

96. This Little Light of Mine
97. Oh, When the Saints Go Marching In
98. He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands

Patriotic Songs:


100Yankee Doodle Illustrated by Todd Ouren

101The Star Spangled Banner The Star-Spangled Banner Illustrated by Todd Ouren
(We also love another version by Peter Spier)

102. America the Beautiful Illustrated by Todd Ouren



104When Johnny Comes Marching Home: A Song About a Soldier’s Return  by Patrick S. Gilmore, Illustrated by Todd Ouren

Other:


105Bake You a Pie [With CD]by Ellen Olson-Brown and Brian Claflin, Illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler
I didn’t know this was a songbook until after we got home from the library. It came with a cd and the song was an instant hit with Juliet. She was singing it to herself after just one reading/singing–it’s that catchy. Each verse features a different style of music from gospel, to opera, to country, to robot! It’s REALLY fun book and a fun song. We’ll be singing this for many years to come.

106Baby Beluga  by Raffi, Illustrated by Ashley Wolff
Believe it or not, I had NEVER heard this song before until we sang it at story time at the library a year ago. All the parents were singing along like it was as familiar as Twinkle Twinkle and I was just looking around thinking, “How did I miss this?” It’s such a fun song with a catchy tune, Juliet and I have been singing it together ever since and just recently found a copy at goodwill, so now we have it in our home library.
107. Elvis Presley’s Love Me Tender Illustrated by Tom Browning



If you are looking for one book with a GREAT variety of songs and amazing artwork (like the stuff that is in museums amazing), then this is the book for you. I recently checked it out at the library and fell in love. It’s put together by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and it is just incredible. It’s a beautiful combination of music and art.
Here’s a sampling of some of the songs you can find inside:
108. Amazing Grace
109. Bringing in the Sheaves
110. Dixie
111. Greensleeves
112. Lavender’s Blue
113. My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
114. On Top of Old Smokey
115. Scarborough Fair
116. Shenandoah
117. Skip to My Lou
118. We Gather Together
So, that’s the longest post I have ever written! Congrats, if you are still reading! You survived! I’d love to hear what your favorite songbook suggestions are. We are always looking for more good ones to check out!