Ballet Books: Reading En Pointe!
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And I mean ballet all day, every day.
I truly don’t think that my daughter is going to be a prima ballerina one day, but the joy that ballet brings to her life right now is indescribable. She pirouettes throughout the house, in the yard, at the store, whenever the mood strikes her and will invariably ask to wear some sort of ballet outfit at some point in the day.
We change a lot.
We recently found The Ballet Brigade on YouTube and visit my sister just so that she can watch the newest episodes of On Pointe on Disney+. I think our Leap! and The Nutcracker and the Four Realms DVDs are wearing out, though one plus is that she was introduced to Andrea Bocelli, who sings Fall On Me with his son at the end of the movie and now loves dancing to his mellow tenor tones. But what truly tops it all right now are books. Ballet books to be exact.
Until my daughter started asking for more books with ballet themes, I didn’t realize how many were out there. Fiction, non-fiction, sticker, coloring, you name it and they are there and many now reside in our home. Of course, my passion for books fans the flames and I’m a sucker for a well-illustrated rhyming tome such as the Miss Lina’s Ballerinas book series by Grace Maccarone. And what child can embrace ballet and not know of that famous mouse from across the pond, Angelina Ballerina by Katharine Holabird? If you’re a fan of You’ve Got Mail (can’t even count how many times I’ve watched it), you should be aware of Ballet Shoes, one of the shoe books by Noel Streatfeild, which just had a revival reprinting, as a matter of fact.
As an Usborne Books & More Independent Consultant, I am thrilled that they have ballet themed titles because I absolutely adore their books. Not just the quality of the books themselves, but the illustrations and stories as well. UBAM offers ballet stories, a musical book and, of course, a few sticker books (one of UBAM’s specialties). Can’t go wrong with Usborne and Kane Miller books, so if you need to find a consultant, look no further! ? You can see UBAM's selection of ballet themed titles on our new Ballet Books list.
A few other ballet books we think deserve a moment in the spotlight...
B is for Ballet: A Dance Alphabet by John Robert Allman.
Presented by the American Ballet Theatre, this new, slightly oversized picture book provides ballet enthusiasts of all ages with a wealth of information through rhyming text and eye-catching illustrations. While I occasionally find myself stumbling through the rhymes because of certain ballet terms and names (gotta work on my French and Russian pronunciations), the book is still such a joy to read aloud and learn from. Included in the back are lists of terminology, famous ballets, choreographers and dancers.
Boys Dance! by John Robert Allman
Ballet isn't just about ballerinas in pretty pink tutus and pointe shoes. Ballet is for boys too. After all, what would a ballet be without its men? Can you really have Cinderella without the Prince? Who would awaken Princess Aurora without Prince Désiré?! Thankfully the American Ballet Theatre knows the value of boys who love to dance and have created this delightful story just for them. Through lively, rhyming text, this story highlights the dedication, hard work, and strength it takes to be dancer. At the end, you'll find interviews with male dancers of the American Ballet Theatre that offer a firsthand look at what it's like to be a boy who loves ballet.
Bunheads by Misty Copeland
Copeland is featured in the movie The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, a favorite film in our household, so when I saw that this book was written by the famous ballerina, I knew we had to read it ourselves. My daughter was captivated by the story, with its detailed descriptions of the ballet, Coppelia, as well as the supportive friendships amongst the young dancers in the story. If you do not have access to a copy of Bunheads, you can actually hear Misty Copeland herself read it on YouTube thanks to PBS.
Ella Bella Ballerina series by James Mayhew
Young Ella Bella attends Madame Rosa's ballet class at the old theatre, a magical place where anything can happen. When Ella Bella opens Madame Rosa's enchanted music box, she finds herself whisked off into the stories of famous ballets: Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Swan Lake, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Nutcracker and The Magic Toyshop. Each title in this series more charming than the last, with whimsical illustrations that perfectly capture the beauty of each ballet.
Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle
A mutual love of dance has the power to inspire and encourage lasting friendships, but even the best friendships take a bit of work. This wordless book from the extremely talented Molly Idle is not specifically about ballet, although the dance that Flora and her new flamingo friend engage in, after some practice, is certainly as graceful and elegant as the best pas de deux.
Swine Lake by James Marshall
Swine Lake...get it? A down-on-his-luck, hungry Big Bad Wolf happens to acquire tickets to the Boarshoi Ballet's performance of Swine Lake. Sitting in his private theatre box, the wolf makes plans to dine on the performers, but as he watches the pigs prance across the stage, he finds himself completely captivated with the ballet. The wit and humor in this story are incomparable and appealing to readers of all ages, and the vocabulary is absolutely superb, but what else would you except from such a duo as James Marshall and Maurice Sendak?
Tallulah's Tutu by Marilyn Singer
Tallulah just knows she will be a great ballerina, if only she had a tutu! She attends her first ballet class and learns the basic positions and does very well. At the end of class she is sure she will finally get a tutu, but sadly, her hopes are dashed when all she receives is praise and a hug from her teacher. This does not go over well with our friend Tallulah. Now, many parents will say they dislike this book because of Tallulah's rather bratty reaction to not receiving the tutu she so longs for, but I find that her reaction, like those of other characters such as Fancy Nancy, provides a teachable moment and, in the end, Tallulah does learn the value of patience and that the rewards are that much sweeter when you put in the hard work to earn them.
For more ballet books, check out our new list and don’t forget to search your local library and bookstore.
**A quick note: many ballet books may seem beyond your little one, what with their unique vocabulary, but remember, a child’s listening comprehension far exceeds their reading comprehension in their early years, so spend some snuggle time with your dancer by reading to them.**
I’m so glad that my daughter’s been able to get back to actual in-person ballet classes and her ballet wardrobe continues to grow as well, thanks to her grandmother who even found ballet underwear! Who knew? Though she’s only five, I feel that it’s important to indulge a child’s passions when you can for every experience not only adds to their wealth of background knowledge, but also adds to the wonderful well-rounded adult that they will eventually become. I’m just glad that she chose quiet ballet and not tap. Sorry tap parents.
“Life without ballet would be pointeless.”
-Kate @ BTBL
We are three generations that seek a way to get back to basics. It’s not that we eschew technology, but sometimes simpler is better, especially in raising our children. Mom was a reading teacher, Amanda is an early childhood educator and Kate a children’s literature specialist and former school librarian along with the latest additions, a daughter (now 5) for Kate, and two sons (now 3 and 1) for Amanda. We advocate reading aloud, the simple toys that use imagination and encourage creativity and learning in the kitchen, which can be a fun mess but also teaches life skills. Join us in raising healthy, happy, inquisitive and intelligent children.
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We are mom Sandra and daughters Amanda and Kate, all with backgrounds in literacy and education, who want to share our philosophy of taking the basics of life; books, simple toys that encourage play, imagination and creativity, and using cooking and baking to teach math and real life skills to raise happy, inquisitive children. Join us in exploring the old and the new and sifting through the myriad of research to consider what is best for our children.