10 Children’s Books About Dance

Here are ten entertaining and informative children’s books about dance. This list includes books to share with aspiring ballerinas and ballerinos (e.g. Tanya and Emily and A Very Young Dancer). This list also includes books to broaden children’s understanding of dance.

Dance by Bill Jones and Susan Kuklin. Captivating images of dancer Bill Jones introduce young children to modern dance. Dance can be used to encourage kids to move their bodies in new ways. Another great children’s book for introducing kids to modern dance is Pilobolus’s The Human AlphabetAges 1+

How Can You Dance? by Rick Walton and Ana Lopez-Escriva. This rhyming book encourages young children to dance like kangaroos, trees, foxes, and more. Ages 2+

Max by Rachel Isadora. A story about a boy, Max, who tries out his older sister’s ballet class and is won over. Max includes delightful Norman Rockwell-esque illustrations of Max and other kids dancing. Ages 2+

Tanya and Emily in a Dance for Two by Patricia Lee Gauch and Satomi Ichikawa. Tanya is an appealling character — a spunky girl who loves to dance. In Tanya and Emily in a Dance for Two, Tanya and Emily become friends and help each other become better dancers. If you enjoy this story, check out other stories about Tanya, including Tanya’s Red Shoes and Dance, Tanya. All portray dancing as challenging and fun. Ages 3+

Going To My Ballet Class by Susan Kuklin. A nice, straightforward introduction to ballet lessons for a young child heading to or dreaming of their first ballet class. While a few of the dancers’ hairstyles date the book, this is the best introduction to ballet lessons I have found. Ages 3+

Song and Dance Man by Karen Ackerman and Stephen Gammell. In Song and Dance Man, a former vaudeville performer performs for his grandchildren. Ages 3+

A Young Dancer: The Life of an Ailey Student by Valerie Gladstone and Jose Ivey. A behind-the-scenes look at the life of a student at the pristegeous Ailey School. A Young Dancer follows 13-year-old Iman Bright as she attends dance classes, goes to school, spends time with friends, and prepares for a year-end performance. Ages 5+

A Very Young Dancer by Jill Krementz. In the same vein as A Young Dancer, A Very Young Dancer provides a behind-the-scenes look at the life of a young student at a prestigious dance school — this time the School of American Ballet. In A Very Young Dancer, 10-year-old Stephanie is chosen to play the lead role of Mary in The Nutcracker. Two more good books for introducing kids to The Nutcracker are Lili on Stage by Rachel Isadora and George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker by Joel Meyerowitz. Ages 5+

Alvin Ailey by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney. An autobiography of Alvin Ailey, an African-American choreographer who helped popularize modern dance. This autobiography describes Ailey’s early influences, training, creation of the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, and choreography of his most popular work RevelationsAges 5+

Footwork: The Story of Fred and Adele Astaire by Roxane Orgill and Stephane Jorisch. An autobiography of Fred and Adele Astaire, famous American stage and film dancers. Footwork describes the Astaires’ rise from their first vaudeville performance (dressed as a champagne glass and lobster) to their ultimate Broadway and film success. Beautiful illustrations! Ages 6+

In addition, I have had fun creating a YouTube dance video playlist to share with kids. The playlist includes performances by the Anaheim Ballet Company, Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Company, Pilobolus, The San Francisco Ballet Company, and Gene Kelly.

You may also be interested in:

Pinterest: Dance

This entry was posted in Ages 2+, Ages 3+, Ages 4+, Ages 5+, Ages 6+, Ages 7+, Ages 8+ and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to 10 Children’s Books About Dance

  1. I love this dance section! I always loved the Alvin Ailey dance company!! Thanks for the new ideas!

  2. Any says:

    I love dance books and these are some favorites

  3. Charlotte says:

    Thanks for this list! I am making my own list of books to read (to myself and to my kids.) 1 book I thought should have been here is “Giraffes can’t dance by Giles Andreae. It really encourages the physically awkward to dance too…

  4. Thanks for the list. My girls love to dance. I bought them some DVDs and books about dancing. I will check out the books you suggested. It will be a great addition to their collection. Thanks!

  5. KKJ's Mama says:

    My toddlers love Rap-a-Tap-Tap: Here’s Bojangles–Think of That! by Leo and Diane Dillon. I’ve seen your pages about rhyming books (and echo your sentiments!); this rhyme sets the tapping beat throughout the book which the young children really take in and love to echo back. (In the classroom, this book is requested every week or two!)

  6. What a wonderful list! I have written two dance books that are making the rounds to publishers….I hope to be on your list one day! And meanwhile, I’ll be checking your suggested books out of my library, so I know what’s out there. I was only familiar with a few of them. The Alvin Ailey youtube video was a sweet treat! I wish I had that to use when Alvin Ailey’s picture book was part of my reading anthology when I taught 4th grade. I used a poor quality old video. This was much better! Thanks!

  7. All of these books were new to me! Thanks for the suggestions. I am toying with the idea of celebrating Stephen Gammell’s birthday on Feb. 10 and I noticed you included Song and Dance Man. This book was not available at our local library — I may have to seek out other libraries!

  8. I love this list. I also love the book Dance, and I’ve heard good things about many of the other books you feature. How Can You Dance? is one I haven’t heard of, though, so I am definitely going to go look for it! I love your idea for a blog, too. Glad we linked up via Twitter!

  9. Amy says:

    Another nice book for younger kids about ballet is Ballerina! by Peter Sis. I was waffling between including Ballerina! or How Can You Dance? on this list. I like both books.

  10. Erinn L says:

    We really enjoyed that video. Thank you.

    • Amy says:

      Great! Also, I’m pretty sure that it isn’t clear that if you click the “dance video playlist” link, you’ll zip on over to a playlist of six dance videos that I’ve posted on my YouTube channel.

  11. Amy says:

    Ditto. Dance is one of my favorite books ever (not simply one of my favorite books about dance), and I loved A Very Young Dancer when I was a kid. A Very Young Dancer is sadly out of print. However, you can still find it at libraries and, if it’s not at your local library, order it through interlibrary loan. It’s worth the effort to obtain a copy. It is the best book in Jill Krementz’s A Very Young … series and is just as exciting for my kids to read as it was for me to read.

    @Jen I have not read Ballet for Martha. Is it about Martha Graham? I’ll definitely look for it!

  12. Jen says:

    OK, the above comment could have been my own… and, have you seen Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring yet? We really enjoyed that one.

  13. Monica says:

    The Bill T. Jones book is one of my absolute favorites!! So beautiful! And A Very Young Dancer was essential to my childhood…glad it’s still around!

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