Five new dance-filled children’s books and book collections offer a variety of engagement options as you prepare for the new school year—whether incorporating a book into one of your classes, sending one home with a young dance enthusiast or stocking your studio’s lobby. Pro tip: Families always appreciate age-appropriate book recommendations in your studio’s newsletter or bulletin board.
Stomp, Wiggle, Clap, and Tap: My First Book of Dance, by Rachelle Burk; illustrated by Alyssa De Asis
Burk’s book leads readers through a wide range of movements with playful rhyming text. It’s a great option if you teach parent/child classes or creative movement for students 2 to 4 years old. The book begins with isolated body parts, and then moves on to whole body and locomotor actions. Simply read it to get the group warming up in a matter of minutes.
Joey Finds His Jump!, by Once Upon a Dance; illustrated by Olha Tkachenko
Joey Finds His Jump! is a sweet book about a kangaroo learning to jump. Each page is visually split between the story and the dance directions (with photos of a dancer, too). It is a delightful way to introduce jumping to 3- to 6-year-olds in creative movement and pre-ballet classes—and a great example for teaching artists new to making a picture book into a story dance, as the directions are clear and educational.
Dancing Shapes: Ballet and Body Awareness for Young Dancers, by Once Upon a Dance
Dancing Shapes is a picture book for ages 6 and up divided into three sections. Part One shares a bit about the author and her career in ballet. Part Two is an introduction to ballet-specific positions. Then, Part Three contains photos of body shapes to inspire a fun activity of seeing and doing. Show your class the images and read the descriptions. They offer detail and specificity about the hands and feet in particular.
Kerin Finds Her Beat, by Shanequa Waison-Rattray; illustrated by DG
Author Shanequa Waison-Rattray retells a common story for young dancers: Being a new student in a dance class, gaining confidence, practicing and building towards a performance. The characters in Kerin Finds Her Beat are ages 7 and 8, so this is a great option for students in kindergarten, first grade and second grade to read at home. Illustrations are dispersed throughout the book, but it is not a picture book: Read it aloud for your curious young student to allow their imagination to run with the story.
Ballerina Belle series, by Carol Talmon de l’Armée
Ballerina Belle is a 13-book series for young dancers that explores the rituals and stories of dance—the classes, the attire, the steps—plus themes of friendship and rivalry. Readers follow the main character, an American who recently moved to France named Belle, on her adventures at home and at the studio. The titles alone will pique a young dancer’s interest: The Music Box, The Rehearsal and The Sacred Shoes, to name a few. Ballerina Belle can serve as a sweet bedtime-story series for students ages 5 to 7, or as a great book option to have in your dance studio’s lobby area while families wait for classes to start.