It’s such a pleasure to introduce children to new subjects, such as dance, through literature. Watching them discover a new love for learning about a topic they’ve yet to explore is pure joy. These books will open a ballroom door to the world of dance in its wide variety of forms, from the gypsies who migrated from India to Spain to the prima ballerina who dedicates her life to her craft.
By Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple
The Barefoot Book of Dance Stories by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple is an eclectic collection including dance tales from Germany (The Twelve Dancing Princesses) Japan (Robe of Feathers) West Indies (Making the Stone Smoke) Spain (The Shepherd’s Flute) Czech Republic (Dancing with the Birch Fairy) Egypt (When The Goddess Danced) Scotland (Tam O’Shanter) and Mali (The Little Bird Who Went Dancing). Helen Cann’s paintings move and sinuate across the pages with brilliantly colorful strokes. Best of all, this book includes a CD with lively background music and grand dame of stage and screen Juliet Stevenson narrating the stories with her warm and gentle voice. (Ages 8 and up)
By Grace Maccarone; illustrated by Christine Davenier
Miss Lina’s Ballerinas and the Prince is an amusing tale of a classroom of little ballerinas who must welcome a new student, a boy. Quelle horreur! Grace Maccarone’s book is somewhat reminiscent of the Madeline and the Bad Hat (although this boy is not nearly as horrid as Pepito) with its rhyming lilt and even Christine Davenier’s illustrations remind me a bit of the little girls in Paris visiting the zoo with dear Miss Clavel. No need to fear, the prince doesn’t upstage the girls and all’s well that ends well for the little ballerinas of Messina. (Ages 3-6)
By George Ancona
Ole! Flamenco is the story of this expressive art form that has evolved over hundreds of year, but also the vital force that unites a vibrant flamenco community in Santa Fe, New Mexico. With George Ancona’s gorgeous photos throughout, you get the sense that the young boy learning to play guitar and sing and the young girl dancing and stomping her feet will continue to carry on this tradition for many generations. This step-by-step guide to the dance form and the music will demonstrate its inherent passion and creative energy to your children. (Pura Belpré Author Award Honor: ALSC/Reforma) (Ages 8-12)
By Ann-Marie Williams; illustrated by Jeff Kulak
Learn to Speak Dance: A Guide to Creating, Performing & Promoting Your Moves by Ann-Marie Williams has a distinctly retro feel due to Jeff Kulak’s almost beatnik illustrations that add a cool design element. It includes quotes throughout by famed dancers and choreographers and examples of unique dance performances for readers to view online. This book is for the focused young dancer who is serious about promoting his or her work yet it will also inspire kids curious about exploring the art form. (Ages 9 and up)
By Helene Kerillis; illustrated by Lucie Albon
Little Ballerina: A Children’s Book Inspired by Edgar Degas by Lucie Albon and Helene Kerillis is a wonderful homage to the painter and his work. The truly stunning paintings transport the reader to nineteenth-century Paris where a young ballerina named Laura gets to dance on stage with Degas’s famous ballerinas. Together Albon and Kerillis have reimagined Degas’s “The Rehearsal of the Ballet on Stage” yet made it accessible for young readers. (Ages 4 and up)
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Nicki Richesin is the editor of four anthologies,What I Would Tell Her: 28 Devoted Dads on Bringing Up, Holding On To, and Letting Go of Their Daughters; Because I Love Her: 34 Women Writers Reflect on the Mother-Daughter Bond; Crush: 26 Real-Life Tales of First Love; and The May Queen: Women on Life, Work, and Pulling it all Together in your Thirties. Her anthologies have been excerpted and praised in The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe, Redbook, Parenting, Cosmopolitan, Bust, Salon, Daily Candy, and Babble.
Source of books: Publishers and Library