Updated for 2021.
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Here are my ten recommendations of piano books for kids. They will help your child learn how to play the piano and keyboard, including identifying and playing notes and reading sheet music, plus some simple collections of children’s songs that you or your child can learn to play.
1. Usborne’s First Book of the Piano (with CD)
Usborne is known for producing high-quality books on a number of subjects, and this substantial book is no exception.
It is designed for absolute beginners of any age, although its use of cartoons make it especially attractive and useful for younger learners.
The book explains how a piano works and then goes on to teaching how to read music and play tunes. These tunes are graded, and get gradually more challenging as you work further through the book.
The CD is a valuable accompaniment, allowing learners to listen to the tunes featured in the book.
Definitely a book which can be returned to again and again for its wealth of information and as a reference for looking up musical terms.
2. My First Keyboard – Learn To Play: Kids
This colourful book is aimed dat complete beginner musicians, and allows children to easily follow the clear, simple diagrams and pictures in order to learn their first notes, play fun tunes and gain confidence on the music keyboard.
Author Ben Parker has created a well-rounded introduction to reading and playing music, and the book comes with a pull-out wall chart to aid practice.
Reviews are mixed, with some suggesting it is too complicated for beginners, and others noting that only right-hand playing is taught. It may be worth using this together with other books and resources to provide a well-rounded introduction to playing the piano.
People who have bought this book suggest it is most suitable for children aged 5-9.
3. Hal Leonard Piano for Kids
Hal Leonard is a name to trust for music publications, and a quick look at this beginners’ piano book shows quality. It’s a relatively new book so some of its examples are fresher and likely to be in the minds of learners.
Topics covered include types of piano and keyboard, rhythm, musical notes, music notation, expression, and more. Example songs include Disney and popular music.
The book opts for quite a sensible look and feel rather than others which employ cartoons and whimsy. It is probably more appropriate for slightly older children who have decent reading skills, or used with a parent who can explain and guide younger children.
It also provides access to an online repository of audio for the examples in the book, which can be downloaded or streamed. This requires a compatible device and Internet access.
4. The Fantastic Big Book of Children’s Songs
A huge collection (67) of piano music for kids including some modern favourites: The Addams Family Theme, Blue’s Clues Theme, Bob the Builder, Linus and Lucy, SpongeBob SquarePants theme song, Thomas the Tank Engine and Welcome to the Blue House.
Published by Hal Leonard so you can be more confident of its quality, the book contains music for piano, vocals and guitar, which is great if your child or someone else is learning to play guitar or can already play and is able to accompany.
5. Alfred’s Kid’s Piano Course Book 1
The first in a series of books from Alfred Music designed to teach children aged 5+ the rudiments of music theory and practical piano playing.
It uses plain language and three cartoon characters to help explain concepts, and includes online audio access to make it easy to hear what pieces of music should sound like.
6. Disney’s My First Songbook
Aimed at 8-12 year-old children with a little bit of playing experience, this book includes sixteen well-known Disney songs to play and sing.
Songs include: Beauty and the Beast, Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo, Circle of Life, Cruella De Vil, A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes, Hakuna Matata, Under the Sea, Winnie the Pooh and You’ve Got a Friend in Me.
7. The Big Book of Nursery Rhymes & Children’s Songs: 169 Classic Songs Arranged for Piano, Voice and Guitar
Also useful for those wanting to play the guitar, this is a huge collection of more traditional songs for you and your child to play and sing together.
Songs include Animal Fair, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Bobby Shaftoe, Do Your Ears Hang Low?, Dry Bones, Eeensy Weensy Spider, Five Little Speckled Frogs, Frère Jacques, Ging Gang Gooli, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush, Humpty Dumpty, I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly, Jack and Jill, Knicky Knacky Knocky Noo, Little Bo-Peep, Little Miss Muffet, London Bridge is Falling Down, Mary Had a Little Lamb, Miss Polly Had a Dolly, Oh We Can Play on the Big Bass Drum, Old MacDonald Had a Farm, One Elephant, One Man Went to Mow, Oranges and Lemons, Pat-A-Cake Pat-A-Cake Baker’s Man, Pop Goes the Weasel, Row Row Row Your Boat, Rub-a-Dub-Dub Three Men In a Tub, Sing a Song of Sixpence, Soldier Soldier Will You Marry Me?, The Farmer in the Dell, The Grand Old Duke of York, The Owl and the Pussycat, The Rainbow Song, The Wheels on the Bus, There’s a Hole In My Bucket, There Was a Princess, There Were Ten in a Bed, This Old Man, and Yankee Doodle.
As you can see these are primarily nursery rhymes and generally would appeal to younger children just starting out.
8. WunderKeys Elementary Piano Level 1A
The beginning in the WunderKeys series of books which takes a more humorous, playful approach to learning. It is aimed at children who already have a rudimentary knowledge of music theory, and combines various teaching methods and strategies including “pick a path” sight reading, technical exercises, “lap and clap” rhythmic duets, game-based ear training, plus piano solos.
From the reviews it is clear that, particularly for seasoned professional teachers, this method isn’t for everyone. Some begrudge the amount of “fluff” they have to wade through to get to the teaching.
For others, it can provide a welcome way to encourage their children to learn and practice.
It may be worth taking a look at some of the “look inside” pictures and perhaps trying out the first book to see if this method works for your child.
9. Easy Piano Songs for Kids
Includes a number of popular tunes for children aged 5-7 to play. The music notes include the name of each note within the ‘dot’, helping to familiarise names and positions and make it easier to find the notes on the piano keyboard while still learning to read music.
Songs include Mary Had a Little Lamb; Twinkle Twinkle Little Star; Can Can; Baa, Baa, Black Sheep; Ode To Joy; Skip To My Lou; The Mulberry Bush; This Old Man; Row, Row, Row Your Boat; Three Blind Mice; When The Saints Go Marching In; The Grand Old Duke Of York; The Muffin Man; Lavender’s Blue; Jingle Bells; Kum Ba Yah; Alphabet Song; Oh! Susanna; London Bridge; Old MacDonald; Are You Sleeping?; Brahms’ Lullaby; Amazing Grace; Clementine (Oh, My Darling); A-Tisket, A-Tasket; Drunken Sailor; Girls and Boys; Bingo; Hickory Dickory Dock; Humpty Dumpty; My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean; Hot Cross Buns; Polly Put The Kettle On; Pop! Goes the Weasel; Rock-A-Bye, Baby; Scarborough Fair; Silent Night; Oranges And Lemons; Ring a Ring o’ Roses and Hush, Little Baby.
10. John Thompson’s Easiest Piano Course Part 1
Designed for children aged around 8-12 just starting out learning the piano, this book includes fun characters and illustrations used to teach various musical concepts, writing exercises, sight reading drills, review work, and accompaniments for teachers or parents to use.
The scope of book 1 is purposely limited to five notes up and down from Middle C, with other concepts also limited. Cynically you could suggest t his is to get you to buy into further books in the series, but the publishers say it has been done so as not to overwhelm the novice student.