Songs to Lift Us

In these unsettling times, it’s nice to turn to music to help lift our spirits. Check out these five picture books inspired by some of our favourite uplifting songs!

Coat of Many Colors
By Dolly Parton
Illustrated by Brooke Boynton Hughes
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780451532374 | Grosset & Dunlap
Country music legend Dolly Parton’s rural upbringing in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee provides the backdrop for this special picture book. Using lyrics from her classic song “Coat of Many Colors,” the book tells the story of a young girl in need of a warm winter coat. When her mother sews her a coat made of rags, the girl is mocked by classmates for being poor. But Parton’s trademark positivity carries through to the end as the girl realizes that her coat was made with love “in every stitch.” Beautiful illustrations pair with Parton’s poetic lyrics in this heartfelt picture book sure to speak to all young readers.

Happy!
By Pharrell Williams
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780399176432 | Putnam BFYR
Nominated for an Academy Award in 2014, “Happy” hit number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 list, and has topped the charts in more than seventy-five countries worldwide. Now Pharrell Williams brings his beloved song to the youngest of readers in photographs of children across cultures celebrating what it means to be happy. All the exuberance of the song pulses from these vibrant photographs of excited, happy kids. This is a picture book full of memorable, precious childhood moments that will move readers in the same way they were moved by the song. “Happy” has had the world dancing ever since it first hit the airwaves, and now the irresistibly cheerful tune will come to life on the page with Pharrell Williams’s very first picture book! A keepsake and true classic in the making.

Sharon, Lois & Bram’s Skinnamarink
By Sharon Hampson, Lois Lilienstein, and Bram Morrison, with Randi Hampson
Illustrated by Qin Leng
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264069 | Tundra Books
What does “skinnamarink” mean? You may not find its definition in a dictionary, but the meaning is clear to the generations of children who sang along: friendship, happiness, sharing, community and, ultimately, love. This song has been sung in weddings and in classrooms. It can be fun and silly – especially with the accompanying actions! And it has a way of bringing people together. Through Qin Leng’s wonderfully imaginative illustrations, this delightful picture book tells the story of a community coming together. Young and old, from little mice to a big elephant, people and animals gather into a spontaneous parade as they follow the sound of music.

Sunny Day: A Celebration of the Sesame Street Theme Song
Lyrics by Joe Raposo
Illustrated by Various
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984848185 | Random House BFYR
To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Sesame Street, beloved picture-book artists have each created an artwork interpreting a different line from “Sunny Day,” the iconic Sesame Street theme song. The range of their pieces demonstrates that Sesame Street can truly be found anywhere. The award-winning and bestselling roster of illustrators includes Christian Robinson, Tom Lichtenheld, Vanessa Brantley-Newton, Leo Espinosa, and Dan Santat, among others. The result is a stunning tribute to Sesame Street and to the generations of children who have loved the show. Anyone who opens this beautiful book will be inspired to imagine their own perfect sunny day. For half a century, Sesame Street has helped kids grow smarter, stronger, and kinder through its messages about inclusiveness, kindness, and, of course, literacy and numeracy.

When I Get Older: The Story Behind “Wavin’ Flag”
By K’NAAN and Sol Guy
Illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez
32 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770493025 | Tundra Books
In his first book for children, Somali-Canadian poet, rapper, singer, and songwriter K’NAAN tells his own story. Born in Somalia, he grew up in Mogadishu. When the Somali Civil War began in 1991, K’NAAN was just thirteen. His mother made the difficult decision to move her family so that they could grow up in safety. First in New York and then in Toronto, K’NAAN faced many challenges. Like so many other immigrants, he had to make a place for himself in a world of alien customs, clothes, and language. His road was a hard one: he lost many friends to violence. But K’NAAN’s love of music, and his enormous talent, became a way for him to connect with his past, with his classmates, and eventually, to millions of people around the world. Not only does K’NAAN tell a story that will inspire and encourage young readers, but he provides a brief history of the Somalian conflict. The lyrics of “Wavin’ Flag” are also included.

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