Skip to main content

 Favourites, Gifts for... Children (and grandchildren)

In our latest gift guide, you'll find the perfect presents to introduce children to the wonderful world of classical music. We've selected some great albums and collections featuring some of the most popular works for children - from Peter and the Wolf to Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, some family-friendly ballets to watch together, and some entertaining and informative books introducing the instruments of the orchestra and the lives of some of the world's greatest composers.

CDs and Collections Introducing Classical Music

Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra & Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Marc Taddei & Benjamin Northey

This album from ABC Classics includes three popular pieces, ideally suited to introduce children to the sounds and instruments of the orchestra. Alongside Britten's well-know Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra and Ravel's Ma Mère l'Oye is the welcome addition of Tubby the Tuba: a short piece which tells the tale of a tuba searching for his own melody within the orchestra.

Available Format: CD

Narrators include Bernard Cribbins, Prunella Scales, Angela Rippon, June Whitfield and Dame Edna Everage

Naxos's Children's Classics series includes some of the most popular pieces of classical music for younger listeners. With narration from British actors including Bernard Cribbins, Brian Cant, Dame Edna Everage and Prunella Scales, this 7-CD box set includes Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, Poulenc's L'histoire de Babar and Dukas's The Sorcerer's Apprentice among others.

Available Format: 7 CDs

Matthew Trusler (violin), Martin Roscoe (piano), Maya Koch (violin), Alexander Taylor (piano)

This album from Orchid Classics combines much-loved poems for children interspersed with music on children's themes, such as excerpts from Prokofiev's Cinderella and Debussy's Children's Corner. A starry line-up of actors read the selected poems, from Clive Owen to Simon Pegg and Kenneth Branagh. A fabulous album of words and music for children.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC

CBSO Youth Chorus, National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Edward Gardner

The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, under conductor Edward Gardner, give characteristically energetic performances of two famous showpieces: Holst's The Planets and Richard Strauss's Also sprach Zarathustra. Played with warmth and intensity by these highly-skilled young musicians (aged between 13 and 19), this album offers an excellent introduction to these two popular works.

Available Formats: SACD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

My First Classical Music Albums Series

The 'My First...' series from Naxos features albums devoted to specific instruments, composers and types of music including the violin, the piano, ballet, the orchestra and Christmas. Each release gives an interesting overview, with popular pieces across a broad spectrum of classical music - and occasionally incorporating some other styles. A great introduction to the exciting world of music, ideal for younger listeners.

Explore the full series >>

Klára Würtz (piano), Prima La Musica, Dirk Vermeulen

Klára Würtz performs a selection of piano music for children, including Schumann's Kinderszenen, Tchaikovsky's Album for the Young, and Debussy's Children's Corner as well as pieces by Mozart, Bartók and Beethoven. 'A nice idea, very nicely executed' (BBC Music Magazine).

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC

Alexander Armstrong (narrator), Richard Casey, Ian Buckle (piano duet), Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Vasily Petrenko

This 2017 recording, narrated by presenter Alexander Armstrong, features Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, Saint-Saëns's Le carnaval des animaux and Alan Rawsthorne's setting of six poems from T.S. Elliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. Vasily Petrenko conducts the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in invigorating performances of these popular pieces.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein

Comprising 17 episodes of Leonard Bernstein's legendary series, these one-hour programmes were written and hosted by Leonard Bernstein and brought musical concepts and music history to life for generations of viewers. With performances from the New York Philharmonic and guest artists, this collection includes episodes on themes such as orchestration, symphonic music, Mahler, Stravinsky and concertos.

Also available on 7 DVD Videos

Available Format: 4 Blu-rays

Family-friendly Ballets on DVD and Blu-ray

This unique collection brings together four jewels of the Royal Ballet repertoire that will delight and captivate viewers of all ages. Included in the set are full performances of Tchaikovsky's festive treat The Nutcracker, the enchanting Tales of Beatrix Potter, Joby Talbot's imaginative treatment of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and a beguiling production of Peter and the Wolf.

Also available on 4 DVD Videos

Available Format: 4 Blu-rays

Paris Opera Ballet, Dutch National Ballet

The natural successor to Ballet for Children, this collection includes four ballets based on well-loved fairy tales: Délibes's Coppelia, Prokofiev's Cinderella, plus Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty by Tchaikovsky. The perfect way for older children to explore the enchanting world of ballet.

Available Format: 4 DVD Videos

The Royal Ballet, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Boris Gruzin

The latest revival of Peter Wright’s chocolate-box production of Tchaikovsky’s Hoffmann-inspired Christmas classic comes up as fresh as paint here, with an outstanding debut from Francesca Hayward as The Sugar-Plum Fairy. A festive treat for all the family.

Also available on DVD Video

Available Format: Blu-ray

The stage show for children

Raymond Briggs's book The Snowman has become a seasonal favourite, and Howard Blake's enchanting score adds to the charm of this magical story. Now running for decades, the 80-minute stage show version has become a festive must-see, and is now released on DVD and Blu-ray - so you can relive the magic at home.

Also available on DVD Video

Available Format: Blu-ray

Books about Music

Cellist Steven Isserlis introduces us to six of his favourite composers: the sublime genius Bach, the quicksilver Mozart, Beethoven with his gruff humour, the shy Schumann, the prickly Brahms and that extraordinary split personality, Stravinsky. Each composer is brought to life in an irresistible manner through fascinating stories and lively illustrations.

Available Format: Book

Steven Isserlis

The follow-up to Why Beethoven Threw the Stew answers such questions as: What did Haydn's wife use for curling-paper for her hair? What did Schubert do with his old spectacles case? Why was Dvorák given a butcher's apron when he was a little boy? Why did Tchaikovsky spit on a map of Europe? Why did Fauré find a plate of spinach on his face? And why did Handel waggle his wig? Another entertaining glimpse into the lives of more favourite composers.

Available Format: Book

An illustrated book, designed specifically for children in elementary education, allows young readers to find out more about the life of this incredible composer. Through Munoz's engaging illustrations you'll learn about Mozart's great achievements, experiencing the main steps in his life and finding out some curious facts along the way...

Available Format: Book

The Stories, Music, and Magic of Classical Dance

Laura Lee combines the enchanting stories of the world's great ballets with fun facts, dancing tips, ballet history and fascinating photographs. From Swan Lake and The Nutcracker to Peter and the Wolf and Sleeping Beauty, this book offers a wonderful introduction to the world of ballet.

Available Format: Book

This board-book with sound buttons allows even young children to discover the magic of the orchestra; each page has an embedded button to hear instruments, as well as the whole orchestra playing together. There are short pieces of information about each instrument, plus links to listen to the full pieces online.

Available Format: Book

First Discovery in Music

ABRSM's First Discovery series explores the lives of composers and musicians in pictures, music and words. With books dedicated to Bach, Handel, Chopin, Debussy, Mozart and Tchaikovsky, plus jazz musicians Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles and Ella Fitzgerald, each volume comes with a CD containing related music.

Explore the full series >>

Genevieve Helsby, with Evelyn Glennie

With Evelyn Glennie as your guide, this book introduces readers to all the instruments of the orchestra. Learn more about which instrument belongs in which section, what these instruments do when they venture outside the orchestra and how different composers have worked with these instruments for hundred of years. Includes an accompanying CD.

Available Format: Book

Genevieve Helsby and Jason Chapman

A delightfully colourful introduction to classical music, aimed at children aged between 5 and 7. With an accompanying audio CD featuring excerpts from popular works, the major composers and musical instrument families are brought to life in a vivid and enchanting way.

Available Format: Book + CD

Written by Genevieve Helsby and illustrated by Karin Eklund

This delightfully colourful introduction to the orchestra, aimed at children aged 4-9, follows a little green creature called Tormod on his search to find music that will help him to find his way home, to the top of a mountain in Norway. Along the way readers learn about the different instruments of the orchestra, listening to examples on an accompanying CD.

Available Format: Book + CD

Written by Genevieve Helsby and illustrations by Jason Chapman

Bursting with life and humour, this comprehensive introduction to the piano inspires young readers with a cast of lively animal characters showing what they know (and what they don't!) about the instrument.

Available Format: Book

Eye-catching photos and illustrations, engaging text and delightful musical selections lead children on exciting, informative tour through the instruments and music of the orchestra - and the composers who wrote the music.

Available Format: Book