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 Alphabet. Ages 1+
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+
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 Revelations. Ages 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.
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