What We Are Reading Right Now – The Dancing Edition…

The world of dancing is a fabulous place to introduce children to great literature and classic stories in a fun way. This month on Playing by the Book the theme is dancing, while we were chatting about our favourite dancing books we got a bit busy…


There is always time to create twelve million dancing princesses…


Folding… Drawing… Snipping…








And storing all the dressing up…


Using a pillow case…

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Ballet Stories lend themselves to puppeteering, be prepared for all sorts of creative explosions when you begin to read ballet stories to your children…


Se7en+1 of our Favourite Dancing Books

  1. All my children loved this book… we read it out loud as a family. The Mao’s Last Dancer is a biography of a young boy growing up in the Chinese government’s ballet company. A heartbreaking childhood… and an incredible talent.
  2. Well this is such a classic. This is the story of three orphan girls and their creative and often crazy will to survive when Gum, the elder absent minded professor, who adopts them. Gum goes missing and the girls have to develop their talents to support themselves. The story is really about the relationships between the girls and you will love them dearly. This book, in fact anything by Noel Streatfield is an absolute must read. Her books are the kind of books that have to be read over and over again!!!
  3. A Child’s Introduction to Ballet, is part of e beautiful series of books covering all sorts of interesting topics. This is a beautiful book with lovely illustrations to explore and an accompanying CD of music from famous ballets… to inspire you while you read. The book covers a number of topics: Ballet stories, a bit about dancing, the history of ballet, famous dancers and so on. The facts are presented in fun and easy to read bite-size snippets and it is a great resource to have on hand if you are looking for a ballet fact quickly or a great read if you want to immerse yourself into an afternoon of dancing.
  4. The Dorling Kindersley Step by Step Guide: Ballerina is my girls’ favourite book on how to dance and they must have had it out of the library about ten million times. This is as close as my children have ever been to a real life ballet lesson and they love and adore it… how to perform little ballet steps, what to wear to class, how to warm up… and it comes with a dvd to expand on and further demonstrate the illustrations/photographs and writing in the book. This is just great for girls that dream of being a dancer…
  5. Well you just can’t beat Barefoot Books for fairytales and storytelling and the Barefoot Book of Ballet Stories will not let you down. Each story has a one page introduction to the story – telling the cast of characters and explaining the setting and relevant details. Followed by exquisitely detailed water-colour paintings and the stories unfold. This book will leave your young reader with a working knowledge of a collection of classical ballet tales. It is a really good read, especially for the child that has discovered that they can read quite confidently on their own. The stories are not too long to overwhelm and obviously fascinating and interesting tales that have stood the test of time.
  6. The Dorling Kindersley book of Ballet Stories is great for my younger girls… they really love this book and ask for it to be read again and again. It covers the classical ballet tales and has in typical Dorling Kindersley style of beautiful illustrations with little snippets of fascinating facts to read before diving back into the story. Nice little diversions to take you in and out of the story and keep little people on their toes and interested!!!
  7. The Barefoot Book of Dancing Stories: Not all dancing is ballet and this book certainly demonstrates that!!! In lovely Barefoot Book style you will meet different cultures and different dances and different stories from all over the world. There is lots to read and learn in this book and we would say it is the ultimate child’s book to dancing around the world… Dancing from Egypt and Mali; Spain and Scotland; Japan and the West Indies to name a few. Each of the national dances is accompanied by a story and their is a narrated CD to to go with it.
  8. And the Se7en + 1th books…

  9. There are literally dozens of beautiful dancing picture books and as soon as we started to think of them we just couldn’t stop… so this is a collection of our favourites!!!
    1. Belinda the Ballerina: Belinda clearly has a problem, she has very large feet!!! But nothing will come between her hearts desire to be a ballerina… very sweet, very funny and very inspiring. A tale of a girl who will not give up, despite all the nay-sayers…
    2. Degas and the little Dancer: Well beautiful illustrations by Anholt… what can I say. The story of a little dancer Marie, who would like to be the most famous dancer in the world but is too poor for classes. She poses for the artist Degas, who captures her perfectly and through his art she does indeed become the most famous dancer of all.
    3. Dogs Don’t Do Ballet: Who doesn’t like a good dog story, and this is a dog with a dream… at every opportunity the dog is reminded that dogs don’t dance – but in the true “follow your dream” style… turns out that this dog can dance!!! This story is hilarious with fabulous choice of words!!!
    4. Brontorina: Everyone knows that the “very proper dance class” is no place for a dinosaur, no matter how determined it is to dance… but Madame Lucille recognises a dancer’s heart within the giant beast… it all works out in the end despite numerous little difficulties like – how does one find shoes to fit… it is sweet and another book all about following your dream.
    5. Tap Dance Fever: If no other book gets you dancing then this one most certainly will… Annabelle just cannot stop tapping… she has danced through the floor, she has worn out the road… and the chickens refuse to lay eggs… but Annabelle just won’t stop!!!
    6. Rap a Tap Tap: Here’s Bojangles – Think of That!: Another one of those books that is simply impossible not to join in with… Bojangles – one of the most famous tappers of all time takes a rhythmical walk through the city. Clever, clever rhyming words for the dancer famous for “making art with his feet.”
    7. Chasing Degas: One day when Degas is painting the dance class, he picks up one of the dancer’s bags instead of his own artists bag. Of course the bag is crucial to that evening’s recital. And so the young ballerina chases after Degas in and out of the studios of famous Impressionist artists. Of course they are re-united and it all ends well… a beautiful book. Fondly read and re-read.
    8. Giraffes Can’t Dance: Oh yes they can!!! One of our favourite books ever… the sad, sad giraffe who is mocked and scorned because giraffes can’t dance… turns out to be the best dancer of all. Isn’t that so often the case!!!

That’s us!!! If you are looking for more books about dancing then pop over to Playing by the Book, for her monthly booked themed posts… The Dance Edition!!!

5 Replies to “What We Are Reading Right Now – The Dancing Edition…”

  1. I loved all of the “Shoes” books by Noel Streatfield as a child! I’m sure my daughter will love them once she is old enough for them. Thank you for all of the wonderful dance book suggestions!

  2. Oh Rikki, there is something magical about having your own children read your favorite childhood books!!! I love it again and again and again – a literary heritage passed on from generation to generation – very special!!!

  3. I have read Mao’s last Dancer as well – wow what a story, and yet, what a broken life. Incredible talent despite the hardship.

  4. Hi Irene, the most incredible life and indeed what a story. And really what a tragedy, so many folk who suffer unduly in our world… It was a very thought provoking book on every level. Hope you have a great week!!!

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