Today is International Children's Book Day, celebrated every April 2 on the birthday of Little Mermaid author Hans Christian Andersen. It's a day to honor the joy of reading to your children (which I do with Lovecraft because, well, I'm kind of a bad person), and some wonderful musicians have gotten into the act of creating works for young readers. They include...
10. Shel Silverstein Behind Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein (Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic) is probably the greatest author of rhyming stories for kids. He was also an accomplished songwriter, penning "A Boy Named Sue" for Johnny Cash, which became the Man in Black's only Top 10 single on the Billboard charts. He was also the man behind Loretta Lynn's hit, "One's On the Way," and Dr. Hook's "Cover of the Rolling Stone."
9. Madonna In 2003, Madonna signed a five-book deal with Callaway Arts & Entertainment, and released her first children's book, The English Roses, illustrated by Jeffrey Fulvimari. It follows a group of female friends who are jealous of a new girl whom they believe to have a life of ease and luxury, only to discover she's actually sad and lonely. It's a sweet story about friendship that is actually the fastest-selling children's picture book ever.
8. Paul McCartney Sir Paul entered the world of kid literature by writing High in the Clouds with Geoff Dunbar and Philip Ardagh in 2004. The book follows a squirrel who witnesses his mother being killed by a bulldozer, and leaves to search for an animal utopia free from human development. While it's not especially well-written and somewhat transparently political against economic expansion, McCartney keeps the story moving fairly well. It's hard not to root for an orphaned squirrel.
7. Bob Dylan While Dylan himself hasn't written an original children's book himself, several of his songs have been illustrated by various artists for young readers. Blowin' in the Wind, Forever Young, If Dogs Run Free, and Man Gave Names to All the Animals are available as picture books accompanying the master poet's lyrics.
6. Dolly Parton If there are more universally beloved performers than Dolly Parton, there can't be many. Among her myriad other pursuits, Parton has written two excellent children's books. I Am a Rainbow teaches kids to express their feelings with colors, while Coat of Many Colors hits a deeper message.
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Based on the lyrics of her 1971 song, it tells the story of a little girl mocked for wearing a coat made of different rags who is teased at school. Parton actually had such a coat as a child, and you can see it in the Chasing Rainbows Museum at Dollywood along with the dry-cleaning receipt on which she originally wrote the lyrics.
5. Julie Andrews The singer and actress is actually a prolific author under her married name of Julie Andrews Edwards. Her best-known work is The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles, which sends the Potter siblings into a magical land to meet the last of a race of imaginary creatures. Any fan of The Phantom Tollbooth will love it.
4. Greg Attonito Bouncing Souls vocalist Greg Attonito teamed up with his wife Shanti Wintergate to craft a fun little book called I Went for a Walk that echoes Attonito's life as a touring punk musician. Like Whangdoodles, it's a journey of the imagination, though Attonito keeps it first-person for our POV narrator. It's a great story of tolerance and exploration that definitely belongs on your child's shelf.
3. David Bowie Honestly, I would have been more surprised if David Bowie hadn't written a children's book at some point. Musical Storyland was published in 2004 (which seems to be a big time for older rock stars to get in on this gig), and features a pretty sweet singalong disc that is great for introducing kids to Bowie's voice without traumatizing them with his crotch in Labyrinth. You can also get a great illustrated version of "Space Oddity" for absolutely free.
2. Colin Meloy The Decemberists singer wrote a simply amazing children's book called Wildwood that has two seventh-graders traversing a magical wilderness to rescue a baby abducted by crows. Even adults will get a kick out of the book. If nothing else, look for the upcoming stop-motion film by Laika based on it.
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1. Courtney Love Love wins the top spot for sheer bizarre audacity of it all. She is the co-creator of the manga Princess Ai, the story of an amnesiac girl mysteriously transported to Tokyo who falls in love with a talented musician. Throw in armed talent scouts and demons, and you end up with a pretty impressive little comic book.