Picture books can offer so much to students, families and teachers alike. Whether inspiring a new dance project or educating about a famous dancer or dance style, books can deepen childrens’ love of dance and expand their imaginations.
These six new releases—perfect for preschool and early elementary dance classrooms—are no exception.
Written by Nancy Bo Flood, illustrated by Julianna Swaney
I Will Dance tells the story of a young girl with cerebral palsy, Eva, and her dreams of dancing. Based on Young Dance, an actual physically integrated dance program in St. Paul, Minnesota, the program Eva finds is indeed for dancers of all abilities and dance dreams. Julianna Swaney’s paintings portray a diverse classroom of young dancers and convey the energy, enthusiasm and connections made in classes where all dancers find a way to move and express themselves.
Roll to the front.
Clapping, whistles, and cheers for me,
for all of us,
Written and illustrated by Karen Diaz Ensanian
Snow, rain, rivers and geysers. Water takes so many forms and can inspire so many different ways to move. Longtime dance educator Karen Diaz Ensanian wrote and illustrated this playful book to explore the water cycle in classes with elementary-age students. Or, if you teach at a K–8 school, consider a multi-age project bringing together both lower school and middle school students.
I rise, float, hover.
I become light and free.
Can you find another way to move like mist?”
Written by Sabrina Moyle, illustrated by Eunice Moyle
This vibrant board-book uses bright colors, cartoonlike illustrations, alliterative text and rhyming to convey action, joy and dancing. Share the book with little ones in preschool and kindergarten, or explore in a parent–child dance class. Select your favorite moves from the story to make your own animal dance, or ask students to pick out their favorite animal to make a solo.
“Gorillas are gliding.
Those hedgehogs can hustle.
Impressive iguanas just might pull a muscle!”
Written and illustrated by Ross Burach
A book for preschoolers featuring counting and tongue-twisting alliteration, I Love My Tutu Too! introduces a cast of animal characters who—you guessed it—love wearing tutus. The simple storyline gets to the heart of many young dancers who love wearing tutus, whether at home or in a dance class.
“I have TWO tutus!
I can share my blue tutu!
A tutu for me?
A tutu for you!”
Written by Anika Aldamuy Denise, illustrated by Leo Espinosa
A Girl Named Rosita tells the true story of Rita Moreno and her journey from Puerto Rico to the mainland U.S., including her hardship assimilating, learning English and training as a dancer. Readers learn about Moreno’s “big break” and her eventually landing the role of Anita in West Side Story, which earned her an Oscar.
“Some days she wants to quit.
But she’s come too far to give up.
One day she will play an authentic character who is
bold, proud, strong.”
Written by Amanda Malek-Ahmadi, illustrated by Kathrine Gutkovskiy
Malek-Ahmadi uses the classic children’s-story structure—first there were 10, then 9, then 8, etc.—to depict a dance class where dancers gradually leave the space. A clever exploration of various dance steps, the story’s structure could beautifully translate into a group dance you create with your students in grades K–4. Gutkovskiy’s illustrations add delight and connection by showing a diverse group of students in ballet class together.
“Ten ballet dancers warm up at the barre.
Pliés, tendus, dégagés all looking fine.
One chaînés away and now there are….”