As much as I am a proponent of dance, I also believe in learning about it through other creative forms. Dance books are a great way to introduce your child to dance outside of the classroom. This is a list of some of my favorite dance books. Please visit my pinterest board “Dance Books” for links to order them through Amazon. These make great gifts this holiday season. Happy reading!
BOOKS FOR AGES 2-6
Dance Annie by Dawn Friedman
• Annie performs a variety of dances in her recital as she blows in the wind, twirls, taps her toes, and strikes a pose.
On Your Toes: A Ballet ABC by Rachel Isadora
• A Ballet Company dances … across the pages of this sparkling picture book, inviting you behind the scenes and illuminating ballet terms from A to Z.
Ballerina by Peter Sis
• A little girl named Terry changes from pink tutu to blue gown to violet cape to white feather boa as she dances and imagines herself as the prima ballerina in The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Swan Lake. In her mind’s eye, the little girl she sees in her bedroom mirror becomes a willowy, poised, grownup dancer with all the glamorous trappings of a real performance. By the end of her own performance, Terry gathers her many different colored scarves and becomes the best ballerina of all, while her audience (her mother and father) “claps and claps and claps.”
Dance by Bill T. Jones
• The renowned performer and choreographer shares his deep love for dance and movement in this poignant photo-essay. The text is brief and to the point. “I am a dancer. I want to dance.” Colorful close-ups of his hands and feet contrast with full-body shots, all set against a stark, white background. Jones’s simple attire accentuates his remarkable agility and grace. He warms up, creates images of lines and curves, flies high, hugs the ground, and reflects upon his characterization and immense joy in performing.
The Human Alphabet by John Kane
• The company’s dancers join limbs, twist, and grip to form 26 letters– an alphabet made of the human body, captured in glorious color photographs. Alongside each letter, they’ve also composed a picture: Ants for A; Butterfly for B; Circus for C–and so on through Z, a human Zipper. Can you guess what each one shows? Pilobolus brings their creativity and hallmark visual style to a unique picture book.
Gallop by Rufus Butler Seder
• There’s never before been a book like Gallop! Employing a patented new technology called Scanimation, each page is a marvel that brings animals, along with one shining star, to life with art that literally moves. It’s impossible not to flip the page, and flip it again, and again, and again.
I am a Dancer by Pat Lowery Collins
• Most of us can dance through life if we want to. Whenever you skip stairs, jump like a frog, sway to the tune in your head, or try to fly like a bird, you’re moving just the way a dancer does.
Nutcracker by Karen Katz
• The toddler ballerinas in this touch-and-feel board book perform the starring roles in The Nutcracker: the Sugar Plum Fairy, a dewdrop fairy, a candy cane dancer, and a snowflake who twirls on an icy lake! Little ones will love touching the shimmery, sparkling fabrics embedded into every spread and will have fun pretending to be part of the show!
Twinkle Toes by Karen Katz
• The ballerina star on the cover of this irresistible novelty board book has on a real tulle tutu! Inside, she is a fluttery butterfly with shimmering lamé wings, a toe-tapping cowgirl with a sequin vest, a dancing princess in a sparkly gown, and more. Toddlers will love touching the sparkly textures as well as copying all the dance moves.
One Ballerina Two by Vivian French
• Two young ballerinas, one small and one not-so-small, practice their steps and movements – from ten plies to one final hug in this delightful study of sibling affection. The younger sister’s adoring, scruffy and clumsy attempts to imitate her older sister’s trained, more fluid movements will bring a smile to any reader’s face, and reflect the frustrations of younger readers who perhaps have similar experiences themselves!
How Can You Dance? by Rick Walton
• It’s no secret kids love to dance, and the quirky kids and animals in this book find inspiration everywhere. How can you dance if you’re lying on the floor? Dance like a snake as it slithers to explore. How can you dance when you’re mad as a bee? Dance around, around, around-wildly. Each page also includes a second verse kids can chant as they jump out of their seats to dance.
Got to Dance by MC Helldorfer
• It’s a hot summer day in the city—and with Momma off to work, and big brother off to day camp, the little girl of this joyous story has the summertime blues. The remedy: dancing—and lots of it! Whether flipping pancakes for breakfast, wandering through the zoo, riding the city bus, or enjoying a sudden shower, the little girl dances her way to a fun-filled day. And Grandpa is her lucky companion.
Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae
• Giraffes Can’t Dance is a touching tale of Gerald the giraffe, who wants nothing more than to dance. With crooked knees and thin legs, it’s harder for a giraffe than you would think. Gerald is finally able to dance to his own tune when he gets some encouraging words from an unlikely friend. With light-footed rhymes and high-stepping illustrations, this tale is gentle inspiration for every child with dreams of greatness.
RECITAL BOOKS FOR AGES 3-6
Harriet’s Recital by Nancy Carlson
• Harriet overcomes her stage fright and dances successfully and proudly at her ballet recital.
My Dance Recital by Maryann Cocca-Leffler
• My Dance Recital captures the preparation, rehearsals, fun, excitement, and nervousness that go into dance recitals by young girls and boys. From getting hair and make-up done to pirouettes to the final bow, this book has it all. Young dancers—and aspiring dancers—will love every minute of it.
BOOKS FOR AGES 5-9
Degas and the Little Dancer by Laurence Anholt
• Young Marie wants to be a ballerina, but her parents have no money for lessons. She must earn what little money she can as an artist’s model at a ballet school. Then, her life takes an unusual turn when she models for the famous sculptor, Edgar Degas.
Tanya and Emily in a Dance for Two by Patricia Lee Gauch
• Tanya, the littlest dancer in her class, looks up to the new girl, Emily, who stands, walks and dances like a prima ballerina. But when they bump into each other on the way to the zoo, they discover that each of them have a dance to share. The wiggly, petite dancer last seen in Bravo, Tanya continues to express her joie de ballet in this rousing encore.
Tanya and the Magic Wardrobe by Patricia Lee Gauch
• Tanya and her mother are going to see Coppélia and arrive at the theater early. While they wait, Tanya sees an older woman carrying tutus. To entertain Tanya, the woman shows her costumes. Together, Tanya and the woman dance their own versions of several ballets. They finish with the best ballet of all-Coppélia, the story of how a doll comes to life.
Tanya and the Red Shoes by Patricia Lee Gauch
• Tanya, the spunky little ballerina who has danced through six other books by Gauch and Ichikawa, is growing up-but not as quickly as she wants to! When she sees the famous ballet The Red Shoes, Tanya wants to dance on toe, too. But everyone says “Not yet. One day, perhaps.” When the day comes-and it does-her new point shoes are not at all what she dreamed. She feels like an elephant: clunk, clunk, clunk. Will Tanya ever make her dreams come true? Knowing Tanya, she will.
Time for Ballet by Adele Geras
• Tilly loves her ballet class. What could be more fun? She gets to wear special clothes, try out fancy new positions, and do her best cat impression. But, when it’s time for the big recital, Tilly learns another aspect of ballet: the pre-performance jitters!
Frank was a Monster who wanted to dance by Keith Graves
• Frank was a monster who wanted to dance. So he put on his hat, and his shoes made in France… and opened a jar and put ants in his pants! So begins this monstrously funny, deliciously disgusting, horrifyingly hilarious story of a monster that follows his dream.
My Friend Maya Loves to Dance by Cheryl Willis Hudson
• A young narrator tells readers about her friend Maya, who absolutely loves to dance. In this rhyming picture book, Maya attends a lively dance class. She can’t get enough of dance: the costumes, the grand entrances, the pirouettes, the music, the final bow, and the magic of recitals. She even loves the hard work of practice. But why doesn’t her friend dance, too?
Lili at Ballet by Rachel Isadora
• Lili loves to dance, and dreams of becoming a ballerina. In her ballet class she does stretches, works at the barre, and learns the five classical dance positions that are the basics for the roles she may dance when she is older.
Lili Backstage by Rachel Isadora
• Lili loves ballet, and now she gets a chance to see what goes on behind the scenes. She peeks into the makeup room, the wig room, and the prop room before arriving at her final destination, the orchestra pit. There her grandfather awaits her with a special surprise.
My Ballet Class by Rachel Isadora
• A young girl describes her ballet class that meets twice a week.
The Jelly beans and the Big Dance by Laura Numeroff
• Emily loves to dance and can’t wait to meet the other girls in her class, who are sure to be just like her. But instead she meets Nicole, a tomboy who would rather be playing soccer; Bitsy, who loves arts and crafts; and Anna, a shy bookworm who has no interest at all in dancing. Realizing that they have to work together to make their dance recital a success, the girls learn to love each other’s differences and strengths as they band together and name their group the Jellybeans!
RECITAL BOOKS FOR AGES 5-9
Presenting Tanya the Ugly Duckling by Patricia Lee Gauch
• When Tanya’s ballet teacher, Miss Foley, chooses her to dance the lead in the spring recital of The Ugly Duckling, Tanya wonders, Why? Right from the start, rehearsing is hard. Tanya feels clumsy. “Poor Tanya,” she hears someone whisper, “she really is an ugly duckling.” She wonders if she will ever get the dance right. It is at the dress rehearsal that she truly becomes the duckling, and in becoming the duckling, rises magically to her role as the ballerina swan.
Lili on Stage by Rachel Isadora
• Lili will capture the dreams of countless balletomanes as she arrives at the theater to prepare for her debut as a party guest in “The Nutcracker.” The atmosphere crackles and the book delivers as much enchantment as the ballet itself.
Opening Night by Rachel Isadora
• Heather, a young ballerina, experiences the off-stage and on-stage excitement of opening night at the ballet. She is performing with a professional company.