Books make wonderful holiday gifts for the young dancers in your life as well as for your studio lobby or school library. And, luckily, 2021 was a fruitful year that produced a wide array of new picture books for aspiring dancers filled with words and images that delight and inspire. Here are some of the latest and greatest titles that your dance students would love to see in their stockings this season.
Three Ballet-Focused Books
Black Ballerinas: My Journey to Our Legacy is Misty Copeland’s latest tour de force on paper. Her growing list of books for adults and children offers a much-needed collection that highlights several Black dancers in the U.S. and shares many personal stories about her life and career path. In Black Ballerinas, Copeland shares one-page bios of 27 Black ballerinas. The profiles are more than third-person descriptions; Copeland begins each with a personal connection about each artist. Collaborator Salena Barnes pairs each story with a stunning illustration of each dancer. This is a book geared towards students ages 10 and up, and many teens too will enjoy every single one of these stories.
For younger readers in preschool and elementary school, take a look at Charlotte and the Nutcracker: The True Story of a Girl Who Made Ballet History, by dancer Charlotte Nebres and illustrator Alea Marley. In 2019, Nebres became the first Black dancer to perform the role of Marie in the New York City Ballet’s The Nutcracker. This picture book offers a window into Charlotte’s early ballet training, young aspirations and then a dream coming true to perform in The Nutcracker in the key role of Marie. Extra delight comes from the fact that the young dancer wrote this book.
Former New York City Ballet prima ballerina Allegra Kent just released her entertaining picture book Grand Jeté and Me in time for the holidays. Paired with beloved children’s illustrator Robin Preiss Glasser (of the Fancy Nancy book series), this book pulls ideas and inspiration from Kent’s own life as she tells the story of a grandmother and granddaughter spending time together preparing for and then attending The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center. The grandmother in the story goes by the name “Grand Jeté” and is pure delight for her young granddaughter, imparting ideas from her years as a ballerina herself. This is a wonderful picture book for children ages 4 to 8.
A Book Exploring Many Dance Styles
Diane Koebel-Pede’s book My Dancing Feet is a playful publication for preschoolers to second-grade students. With rhyming text and details about ballet, jazz, hip hop and tap, dancers can read about the many ways to move in different styles. The book also focuses on students working in dance classes, leading up to a recital.
My Dancing Feet has journal-like pages at the end to write about your own dance experience. Order a personalized copy through Eman Books so that your favorite dancer’s name is within the book.
A Few More Options From 2021
If you’re looking for books that explore dance in a general way or books for little ones with animal characters, catch up on these six titles that make great gift options for preschool-age children, plus these five new books highlighted back in August this year.
Happy shopping, happy reading and happy holidays!