Whether you’re getting a head start on holiday shopping, seeking books to add to your curriculum or studio lobby, or entertaining a young dancer at home, 2020 has been a banner year for dance-focused children’s books.
Dance Teacher rounded up six of the most exciting—from the origin story of ballet’s biggest star to celebrations of boys dancing to breaking down dances from around the world. (Bonus: Several are available in audiobook and/or video form!)
By Misty Copeland and illustrator Setor Fiadzigbey
32 pages; G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers (2020)
American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Misty Copeland’s latest children’s book, Bunheads, is a biographical story of a young Misty. (Her previous children’s book, Firebird, came out in 2014.) Told in third person, Copeland shares the story of her first dance class, her experience auditioning for a role in Coppélia as a child and earning the role as Swanilda, and her friendship with a classmate named Cat.
A delightful picture book for aspiring dancers in preschool and elementary school, Bunheads captures Copeland’s instant love and curiosity for dance.
By Ashley Bouder and illustrator Julia Bereciartu
64 pages; Frances Lincoln Children’s Books (2020)
New York City Ballet principal dancer Ashley Bouder begins her new picture book with a letter to the reader, sharing that the story is based on her own childhood and studying with her beloved teacher Marcia Dale Weary.
Bereciartu’s illustrations highlight a diverse group of young students experiencing their first ballet class. Geared towards dancers in the 3-to-7 age range, students learn the basic positions of ballet and then hear a bit about the classic story of Sleeping Beauty.
By John Robert Allman and illustrated by Luciano Lozano
40 pages; Doubleday Books for Young Readers (2020)
Boys Dance!, which was released as part of a new partnership between Random House and American Ballet Theatre, takes us into an all-boys ballet class. With playful rhyming text, author John Robert Allman explains the basic format of the class and some beginning ballet vocabulary.
The book concludes by highlighting eight male ABT dancers, with photos and short first-person accounts.
By Jamal Josef and illustrator Adrian Turner
20 pages; Jamal Josef (2020)
Written by dancer Jamal Josef, Black Boys Dance Too: Darnell Enters a Talent Show also explores the journey of an aspiring male dancer—though in this one, protagonist Darnell experiences the all-too-familiar experience of being made fun of for his interest in dance. Eventually, though, preparing for the school’s talent show with other boys who want to dance gives Darnell’s story a happy ending. Black Boys Dance Too is a sweet and assuring book for kids in preschool to first grade.
By Valerie Bolling and illustrator Maine Diaz
32 pages; Boyds Mills Press (2020)
For young ones in preschool and kindergarten, Valerie Bolling’s rhyming text explores 10 styles of dance from around the world. Maine Diaz’s illustrations depict joyful children performing dances from China, Guinea and India, to name a few.
By John Robert Allman and illustrator Rachael Dean
48 pages; Doubleday Books for Young Readers (2020)
American Ballet Theatre and author John Robert Allman ambitiously published two picture books this fall. B is for Ballet uses clever rhyming text for an alphabetical journey through key ballet terms, plus choreographers, dancers and famous ballets.