When Rockstars Tell Bedtime Stories: The Best Kid’s Books By Musicians

Celebrate World Book Day with these bedtime stories penned by your favourite artists

It’s World Book Day, so we’ve ventured into the crossover world of music and kid’s literature to pick our favourite children’s books written by musicians.

From the likes of Springsteen, McCartney and Dylan illustrating some of their most well-known tracks, to the wonderful fairytale stories of Madonna, Colin Meloy and more, these make great reading for kids and big-kids alike.

Paul McCartney – Hey Grandude!/Grandude’s Green Submarine

Macca gave us these lively adventures involving Grandude (the kind of hip grandpa who definitely makes his grandkids listen to The White Album) and his four grandkids. In the first instalment, he uses a series of postcards to take the kids on adventures involving cowboys, flying fish and pinchy crabs. The sequel introduces Nandude and a GREEN submarine. Definitely not yellow, ok Ringo?.

Ringo Starr – Octopus’s Garden

Speaking of which… If you had to put money on any Beatle writing a kids’ book, it’d be Ringo. After all, he did write the band’s two most kid-friendly songs and narrate one of the most beloved children’s TV shows of all time. Octopus’s Garden is a charming adventure under the waves, as five kids go inside the song and meet a friendly orange cephalopod.

Stefan Babcock – Rupert The Reaper

PUP’s Stefan Babcock describes his book as a “kids story written for grown-ups”. It follows Rupert, a grim reaper who really wants to make friends but kills everything he touches. It sweet, more than a little nihilistic and remarkably frank about death and despair. Babcock insists he thinks it’s suitable for children and adults, but with the caveat that “I’m not a father”.

50 Cent (Curtis Jackson) – Playground

Fiddy’s first foray into young fiction tells the story of thirteen-year-old Butterball who lives in a Long Island suburb with his mum, while his dad still lives in New York. Through a series of sessions with therapist Liz, the reader is taken on a journey of how Butterball became the playground bully. Loosely inspired by Curtis’ own adolescence, this tale is perfect for teenagers, and for anyone who wants a kid’s-eye-view of where 50 Cent came from.

Bob Dylan – Blowin’ In The Wind

One of the world’s most gifted songwriters, Bob Dylan crafted his wonderful lyrics into storybooks, providing an innovative way to introduce young ones to the maestro (although you’re never too young Blood On The Tracks…). Blowin’ In The Wind is one in a series of books that sees Dylan’s words illustrated with adorable detail. Fans should also get their hands on Forever Young, If Dogs Run Free and Man Gave His Name To All The Animals for some added magic.

Bruce Springsteen – Outlaw Pete

Bruce Springsteen has achieved many things in his lifetime, including directing his own concert documentary, guest starring in Lilyhammer and becoming one of the biggest and most influential rockstars of all time. But who knew he was also a pretty good children’s author? Outlaw Pete is based on a track from Springsteen’s 2009 record Working On A Dream, and follows the mischievous adventures of a bank-robbing baby. Inspired by Brave Cowboy Bill – a story Springsteen grew up loving – Outlaw Pete is just one of many ways the Jersey icon expressed his love for the western.

Colin Meloy – Wildwood

The Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy released Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles in 2012. The first in a trilogy, it has since been followed by Under Wildwood in 2013 and Wildwood Imperium in 2015. The stories sees Prue McKeel’s ordinary life turned upside down when her baby brother is abducted by mean crows. As she sets off to rescue him in the world of Wildwood, she enters a realm of trouble, magic and wonder.

Dolly Parton – Coat Of Many Colors

Country megastar Dolly Parton has long been a fan of children’s books. She has even set up her own charity – the Imagination Library – which gifts free books to eligible kids, from birth until the start of school. In Dolly’s words, “you can never get enough books into the hands of enough children”. With that in mind, in 2016, she used her classic song Coat Of Many Colors and turned it into an inspiring story.

Gerard Way – Umbrella Academy

In My Chemical Romance founder and subsequent solo artist Gerard Way’s graphic novel, wealthy inventor Reginald Hargreeves adopts seven children that were born to women who had previously shown no signs of pregnancy. Forming the Umbrella Academy of the title, those seven children each have their individual superpowers. Across various adventures as adults, they aim to save the world. Blending the magic of graphic novels with Way’s darker edge, this is the perfect mix of both worlds. Since turned into a hit Netflix show, there’s plenty for kids to get into here if they like the books.

Gloria Estefan – Noelle The Bulldog

Grammy Award-winner Gloria Estefan ventured into the world of children’s books with the tale of Noelle The Bulldog. Illustrated by Michael Garland, the book’s themes tackle being an outsider and searching for a place to belong. Noelle is overjoyed when she gets adopted by a little girl, but her happiness is overshadowed by a fear of rejection. Ultimately, Gloria Estefan shows that everyone has their own talent and a place to be accepted, and everything ends with a big latin pop dance number (not really).

Julie Andrews – The Last Of The Really Great Whangdoodles

Real-life Mary Poppins has written more than a dozen children’s books, and her second tells the whimsical story of the Whangdoodle, a gentle and wise creature who created a secret land for himself and all other extraordinary animals. Yet, as Professor Savant and the three Potter children embark on a search for the mystical creatures, they have to get past the sneaky Prock who is doing his utmost to keep them away from his king.

Keith Richards – Gus & Me

He might be an unlikely children’s author, but Keith Richards opened up a deeply personal side of his backstory in his literary debut. Richards dives back into his childhood to when his grandfather – Theodore Augustus Dupree (aka Gus) – introduced him to the joy of music. Throughout the book, Keith celebrates everything about his grandfather; a jazz musician who gave Keith his very first guitar. The tale is accompanied by beautiful illustration courtesy of his daughter, Theodora Dupree Richards.

Madonna – The English Roses

Queen of Pop Madonna builds a world inspired by contemporary London life for The English Roses series. Four young girls, all best of friends, exclude Binah from all their fun activities because they they are jealous of her seemingly perfect life. A fairy godmother then comes along to take the girls on a journey where they learn that maybe Binah’s life isn’t as idealistic as it first seems.

Rhett Miller – No More Poems!

Rhett Miller, frontman of country rockers Old 97’s, uses his talent for words to create a series of poems about a bullying baseball coach, annoying little brothers and more. With 23 pieces in total, No More Poems! is a funny and clever collection that no alt-country lovin’ family should be without.