Dance education has been a lifelong study for me. As a child, I learned rudimentary dance steps from my teachers. As a teen, I watched my peers and learned by example from those around me. In college, I participated in work-studies and performances that enhanced my dance knowledge. Now, as a dance educator myself, I see the value in dance and literature for all ages. Please see below for some of my favorite dance books!

Ms Tessa’s Favorite Dance Books

My favorite books for younger dancers

“ABC Dance! An Animal Alphabet” by Sabrina Moyle, Illustrated by Eunice Moyle 

Help your little ones practice their ABC’s and familiarize themselves with uncommon animals. This story has bright colors, creative vocabulary and silly illustrations. 

“Flora and the Flamingo” by Molly Idle

This beautifully illustrated, textless picture book allows for the reader to use their imagination to watch the movement-led story unfold between Flora and the Flamingo.  

“I Look Up To… Misty Copeland” by Anna Membrino, Illustrated by Fatti Burke

Learn the many qualities that have helped prima ballerina Misty Copeland become successful through simple text and direct quotes. Bright colors paired with motivational writing makes this book a great choice for younger and older children. 

“Boys Dance” by John Robert  Allman, Illustrated by Luciano Lozano

See the value of dance in a young boy’s life through fun rhyming words, fictional and non-fictional characters and inclusive illustrations. “Boys Dance” encourages boys to find their passion and explore it whole-hearted, whether it’s dance related or not! 

“Giant Dance Party” by Betsy Bird, Illustrated by Brandon Dorman 

Lexy overcomes her fears of dancing in front of a crowd with the help of a few unlikely friends. 

“Dancing in the Wings” by Debbie Allen, Illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Follow ballet dancer ‘Sassy’ as she tries to succeed as a young dance student despite standing head and shoulders over her peers and having big feet with long toes. After a childhood filled with dancing in the wings because of her physical differences, Sassy clenches an opportunity to dance with ‘Mr. Debato’ from Washington DC. Realizing her uniqueness is a gift rather than a curse, she eventually soars on stage as if she’s dancing in the Milky Way. 

“Knockin’ On Wood” by Lynne Barasch

Beginning in 1912, the reader meets Clayton from South Carolina who grew up with a mama who worked for less than she deserved in a cotton field. Clayton would escape the day’s work to dance for the people in the barber shop as a child. He could never stop moving his feet. At 12 years old, Clayton decided to begin work in a cottonseed mill and due to a tragic accident there, lost his left leg from the knee down. No one thought he would ever walk again. But, defying the odds Clayton began slowly walking, first with two crutches made from broomsticks and later with a peg leg whittled by his uncle. For Clayton, walking led naturally to dancing. He began to create his own tap dancing sounds, unlike any other and created a beautiful performing career for himself as Peg Leg Bates. 

“Dance is for Everyone” by Andrea Zuill

The instructor and students are stunned when an alligator shows up to ballet class. But, with time, patience and understanding, they all learn to work together to create a beautiful ballet piece. Readers take away that despite different looks, languages and comprehension levels, dance truly is for everyone.

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