Dance & Ballet Books for Kids & Young Readers that Showcase Diversity!

When I grew up reading children’s literature it was quite rare to see many books where the kids had different skin colors, or where the main character had a disability. Having been a teacher in multicultural schools and having mixed-race children myself, I have become painfully aware of the discrepancies as I wasn’t always able to provide my students and children with books in which they could see themselves or that didn’t teach ‘white privilege’ or even ‘able privilege’ in undermining ways – for example the princess is always caucasian with blue eyes and blond hair.

The best dance and ballet children’s books that showcase diversity have main characters and protagonists of different races, colors, ages and abilities. They are written and illustrated by a diverse range of authors and artists who come from various backgrounds, cultures, and experiences.

Dance is another area that is slowly developing it’s awareness for the need to ensure it is representing all races, all abilities, all genders and Ages in it’s imagery. I actually find it quite hard to balance out the images on this website to be as diverse as I can, something I have tried to do since day one for my children. Not because certain photos are better than others, but because the photography services that are available just do not have a diverse stock of dancers in their catalogues.

Which is why I thought it was important to create this article as it is needed in the dance world, not just because of the many issues that have arisen in 2020 around diversity, in particular, the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, but to create a separate post on books that showcase diversity in amongst the other four or five articles I have written recently specifically on dance books.

One last word, some of the books on this list may not live up to your idea or standard of being diverse and that’s okay. The definition of the word diversity is – a range of different things and as this is a dance book list about diversity I have also at times included books that explore styles of dance other than ballet which is more often than not written about that have some other diverse element or angle as well.

I hope you enjoy the list and reading with your kids or students!

Dance & Ballet Books for Kids that Showcase Diversity!

I will Dance

I Will Dance written by Nancy Bo Flood and Illustrated by Julianna Swaney is a beautiful story about having courage to do what we dream, not matter our setbacks. I think it is a wonderful introduction for all children to understand that there are so many different ways to dance and to express ourselves and that each way is valid and has a place in our world, a place where we all belong. Take a look at it here on Amazon.com

BOOK BLURB:
Like many young girls, Eva longs to dance. But unlike many would-be dancers, Eva has cerebral palsy. She doesn’t know what dance looks like for someone who uses a wheelchair……


Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina

Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina
was weritten by Lea Lyon and  Alexandria LaFaye and Illustrated by Jessica Gibson. This book is a great one to start up hard conversations with kids about priviledge and some history about Black America, because kids will have questions especially about why Sylvia’s skin color was the reason she wasn’t allowed to take ballet classes! To take a look at this book on Amazon.com click here.

BOOK BLURB:
Although there aren’t many ballet schools that will accept a girl like Sylvia in the 1950s, her local bookmobile provides another possibility. A librarian helps Sylvia find a book about ballet and the determined seven-year-old, with the help of her new books, starts teaching herself the basics of classical ballet.


Bunheads

Bunheads is written by Principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre Misty Copeland who is the first African-American to take on the prestigious role with the company. This is a story based on her own experiences as a young dancer. This is the first book in what will hopefully be a series based on the life of young Misty and you can check this one out on Amazon.com here.

BOOK BLURB:
From prima ballerina and New York Times bestselling author Misty Copeland comes the story of a young Misty, who discovers her love of dance through the ballet Coppélia–a story about a toymaker who devises a villainous plan to bring a doll to life…….


Firebird

Firebird is also written my Misty Copeland it was her first picture book and it is illustrated by Christopher Myers. This book is more lyrical and poetic than Bunheads and a lovely addition to any dance book library.

BOOK BLURB:
In her debut picture book, Misty Copeland tells the story of a young girl–an every girl–whose confidence is fragile and who is questioning her own ability to reach the heights that Misty has reached. Misty encourages this young girl’s faith in herself and shows her exactly how, through hard work and dedication, she too can become Firebird.


I Look Up To…Misty Copeland

I Look Up To…Misty Copeland by Anna Membrino and
Illustrated by Fatti Burke is a board book and part of the I look up to series that includes women making a difference in the world. This one introduces Misty Copeland to even the youngest of dancers. You can check it out here on Amazon.com 

BOOK BLURB:
It’s never too early to introduce your child to the people you admire! This board book distills American ballet dancer Misty Copeland’s excellent qualities into an eminently shareable read-aloud text with graphic, eye-catching illustrations.


Brave Ballerina: The Story of Janet Collins

Brave Ballerina was authored by Michelle Meadows and illustrated by Ebony Glenn. This fantastic book explores the life of Janet Collins and her journey to become a ballerina in a racially segregated America. You can take a look at several of the pages and lovely illustrations on Amazon.com here.

BOOK BLURB:
From her early childhood lessons to the height of her success as the first African American prima ballerina in the Metropolitan Opera, Brave Ballerina is the story of a remarkable pioneer as told by Michelle Meadows, with fantastic illustrations from Ebony Glenn.


Rap a Tap Tap: Here’s Bojangles – Think of That!

Rap a Tap Tap: Here’s Bojangles – Think of That! was given the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Books award for it’s beautiful and memorable images be Leo Dillon. Written by Diane Dillon about the man that brang happiness to everyone you can check it out on Amazon.com here

BOOK BLURB:
This simple book for young children has the added bonus of describing the life of a ground-breaking African-American tap dancer. Bill “Bojangles” Robinson was one of the most popular entertainers of the 1920s-30s. People said he “talked with his feet,” and in the Dillons’ graceful paintings of old New York, he dances from page to page to the tune of a toe-tapping rhyme. Rap a tap tap–think of that!


How do you Dance?

This book written and illustrated by Thyra Heder is a great book that illustrates that although we are all diverse, at our core we are the same, we all love to dance even if it looks different from one person to the next and that, that is ok! I also like that this book doesn’t just focus on one culture, race or age so that most kids are able to see themselves, their families and communities in the characters on the pages! You can check it our here on Amazon.com

BOOK BLURB:
There are so many ways to dance! You can jiggle or wiggle or stomp. You can bop or bounce or go completely nuts. You can dance at the market or the bus stop, with your fingers or your face. You can dance because you’re happy or even because you’re sad…..


Got to Dance

Got to Dance was written by M.C. Helldorfer and illustrated by Hiroe Nakata and is a lovely story about a little girl who makes her days more interesting by making everything into a dance. Take a look at it on Amazon.com here

BOOK BLURB: It’s a hot summer day in the city—and with Momma off to work, and big brother off to day camp, the little girl of this joyous story has the summertime blues. The remedy: dancing—and lots of it! Whether flipping pancakes for breakfast, wandering through the zoo, riding the city bus, or enjoying a sudden shower, the little girl dances her way to a fun-filled day. And Grandpa is her lucky companion.


Isabella’s Dance Dream

Isabella’s Dance Dream written by Shayla Shade Gregory and illustrated by Penny Webber is a lovely picture book with wonderful illustrations of a little African American girl who is dreaming of becoming a famous dancer. This book was independently published and you can take a look at it on Amazon.com here

BOOK BLURB:
Isabella’s Dance Dream is a short story about a young girl who dreams to be a famous dancer. Isabella’s will take you on a journey as she twirls her way to center stage.


Alvin Ailey

Alvin Ailey is a picture book written by Andrea Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney. It is a great introduction for children about the super talented man and founder of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. This book is more of a profile that uses described conversations and facts about his childhood to create a picture of this groundbreaking dancer and choreographer. To take a look at this book on Amazon.com click here.

BOOK BLURB:
Describes the life, dancing, and choreography of Alvin Ailey, who created his own modern dance company to explore the Black experience


The Jellybeans and the Big Dance

This book written by Laura Numeroff and Nate Evans and illustrated by Lynn Munsinger is on the list because it showing a different kind of diversity – teaching children that everyone has different interests and hobbies, likes and dislikes, and that when we embrace each others differences and strengths we become stronger and better for it. ""” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener”>To check this book out on Amazon.com click here.

BOOK BLURB:
Just as jellybeans are different colors and flavors, each character in this heartwarming friendship story has a personality and pizzazz that young readers will love. Emily loves to dance and can’t wait to meet the other girls in her class, who are sure to be just like her. But instead she meets Nicole, a tomboy who would rather be playing soccer; Bitsy, who loves arts and crafts; and Anna, a shy bookworm who has no interest at all in dancing. Realizing that they have to work together to make their dance recital a success, the girls learn to love each other’s differences and strengths as they band together and name their group the Jellybeans!


Tallulah’s Tap Shoes

Tallulah’s Tap Shoes makes this list for several reasons. This book is about diversity of dance styles, most children’s books about dance revolve around ballet and tutus. Secondly the other main character in this stories shade of skin is different to Tallulahs, bringing in diversity of characters. Lastly this story is about trying new things, and learning to appreciate them even if we aren’t the best at them! You can check it out on Amazon.com here

BOOK BLURB:
It’s summer, and Tallulah is excited about going to dance camp. She’ll get to take plenty of ballet classes. She’ll have to take tap, too, and she’s NOT excited about that. She’s never taken tap before, so she’ll be a beginning beginner. And she’s right—tap class is not much fun. Plus there’s a girl her same age who’s maddeningly good at tap dancing. But that same girl isn’t very good at ballet . . . could it be that she and Tallulah have something in common?


Feel the Beat

Marilyn Singer also author of the Tallulah dance books has created a wonderful book that not only takes us on a journey of dance around the globe, but each poem has been created around the specific ryhthm and beat of each dance style. You can take a look at this book and the accompanying CD on Amazon.com here

BOOK BLURB:
Marilyn Singer has crafted a vibrant collection of poems celebrating all forms of social dance from samba and salsa to tango and hip-hop. The rhythm of each poem mimics the beat of the dances’ steps. Together with Kristi Valiant’s dynamic illustrations, the poems create a window to all the ways dance enters our lives and exists throughout many cultures. This ingenious collection will inspire readers to get up and move!


Let’s Dance

Let’s Dance is a great book for younger kids as there is not alot of text, mainly verbs describing the movement of the diverse dances and characters on each page. A fun whirl around our globe exploring dance from different cultures. To have a look at the book on Amazon.com click here.

BOOK BLURB:
Tap, twirl, twist, spin! With musical, rhyming text, author Valerie Bolling shines a spotlight on dances from across the globe, while energetic art from Maine Diaz shows off all the moves and the diverse people who do them. From the cha cha of Cuba to the stepping of Ireland, kids will want to leap, dip, and zip along with the dances on the page!


This is It

This is It, is Daria Peoples-Riley’s first book and it is a wonderful read about being yourself and creativity. One thing I don’t exactly like is that the dancer reminds herslef to arch her back which is not something dancers are encourage to actually do. But otherwise it it a great read and you can check it out here on Amazon.com

BOOK BLURB:
When a young dancer is nervous about her upcoming auditions, her shadow springs to life and leads her on a joyous exploration of their city. Soon enough, the young girl finds confidence in her skills, her body, and her ability to shine.


Peg Leg Bates

Peg Leg Bates was written and illustrated by Lynne Barasch about Clayton Bates who became one of the worlds best tap dancers even without his leg! It is a great story about overcoming adversity and you can take a look at it here on Amazon.com

BOOK BLURB: Clayton Bates was born in rural South Carolina in 1907, and from the age of five he just loved to dance. When he was 12, Clayton lost his left leg in a factory accident, but his dancing spirit would not die. He started to dance again using crutches, then a peg leg. Within a short time his peg leg matched the dancing ability of his other leg.


Diana Dances

Diana Dances written and illustrated by Luciano Lozano has created a book that teaches about inclusivity and being body positive. It is definitely a book about diversity and some may feel uncomfortable with the stark contrast such as on the front cover of the book but it is a reality dancers face, whether a four year old needs to be exposed to that is your choice as a parent. Lastly, one thing that did bother me a little was the fact that the mother in the story seeks constant outside help with her child over trying to connect with her, but it all adds to how misunderstood Diana is and how brave we sometimes have to be to show others that our differences are what make us stronger. You can check this book out on Amazon.com here

BOOK BLURB:
Diana is struggling in school. She’s bored. She can’t concentrate. And she really doesn’t like math. Diana visits the doctor after her mother receives a call from a concerned school teacher, but the family doctor finds nothing amiss. It’s only when Diana hears the soft musical notes filling the psychologist’s office that her body begins swaying rhythmically and the correct diagnosis can be made: Diana is a dancer!


Dancing in the Wings

Dancing in the Wings was written by dancing legend Debbie Allen based loosely on her own experiences growing up as a dancer. It was illustrated by Kadir Nelson and is fiesty book about a little girl who just wanted to dance. This book is not a happy fairy tale through out and sometimes you might wish that the characters were a bit nicer to each other, but that is even more reason to buy this book so you can discuss with your children why the characters behave and act like that. It is a breath of fresh air to not have every character be kind and nice all the time, and there is a lot of great learning that can come from this book as a result. You can check it out here on Amazon.com

BOOK BLURB:
Sassy is a long-legged girl who always has something to say. She wants to be a ballerina more than anything, but she worries that her too-large feet, too-long legs, and even her big mouth will keep her from her dream. When a famous director comes to visit her class, Sassy does her best to get his attention with her high jumps and bright leotard. Her first attempts are definitely not appreciated, but with Sassy’s persistence, she just might be able to win him over. 


The Brothers of the Knight

The Brothers of the Knight is another book on this list written by dance legend Debbie Allen and is illustrated again by Kadir Nelson. It is a contemporary remake of the classic dance story the 12 Dancing Princesses. The story is told by a narrator who happens to be the family dog and it is a colorful, cheeky, hip and fun book that although is word heavy engages children till the end. You can take a look at this book on Amazon.com here

BOOK BLURB:
Reverend Knight can’t understand why his twelve sons’ sneakers are torn to threads each and every morning, and the boys aren’t talking. They know their all-night dancing wouldn’t fit with their father’s image in the community. Maybe Sunday, a pretty new nanny with a knack for getting to the bottom of household mysteries, can crack the case. This modern, hip retelling of the classic tale The Twelve Dancing princesses bursts with vibrant artwork and text that’s as energetic as the twelve toe-tapping Knight brothers themselves. 


The Twelve Dancing Princesses

I am a big fan of Rachel Isadora dance books as I owned one growing up and adored reading it, so I was happy to make this find this diverse rewrite of The Twelve Dancing Princesses which you can check out on Amazon.com here

BOOK BLURB: Night after night, the twelve princesses mysteriously wear out their shoes. But how? The king promises a great reward to any man who can solve the mystery. Rachel Isadora has revitalized and reimagined this well-loved Brothers Grimm fairytale by bringing the story of the twelve princesses to Africa. The unique presentation of this classic tale is sure to enchant readers with its vibrant imagery.


Hip-Hop Lollipop

Hip-Hop Lollipop was authored by Susan McElroy Montanari and was illustrated by Brian Pinkney and is a fun bedtime story all about dance in particular hip-hop, which is a lovely change from the many ballet books we see. To take a look at this book on Amazon.com click here

BOOK BLURB:
Watch as Lollipop grooves her way through her bedtime routine, brushing her teeth to the beat and shimmying into pjs. She sways along with her sister, her parents, and even some enthusiastic pets until, finally, Lollie closes her eyes and dances through her dreams. Susan Montanari and Caldecott Honor winner Brian Pinkney offer a playful bedtime read-aloud that perfectly captures the joy of music, movement, and family.


DANZA

Danza authored by Duncan Tonatiuh is a book based on the story of Amalia Hernandez who was a dancer from Mexico who founded El Ballet Folklorico De Mexico. This book is a showcases not only of Amalia’s love of dance but of the Mexican culture through the drawings created by Tonatiuh. Check it out here on Amazon.com.

BOOK BLURB:
Amalia studied ballet and modern dance under the direction of skilled teachers who had performed in world-renowned dance companies. But she never forgot the folk dance she had seen years earlier. She began traveling through the Mexican countryside, witnessing the dances of many regions, and she used her knowledge of ballet and modern dance to adapt the traditional dances to the stage. She founded her own dance company, a group that became known as el Ballet Folklórico de México.


Jose

Jose is the story of Mexican born Jose Limon who became a legendary figure in American dance. This story is more anecdotal in style and is a nice introduction for kids about the life of this male artist and dancer. ""” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener”>To take a look click here to go to Amazon.com

BOOK BLURB:
José was a boy with a song in his heart and a dance in his step. Born in Mexico in 1908, he came into the world kicking like a steer, and grew up to love to draw, play the piano, and dream. José’s dreaming took him to faraway places. He dreamed of bullfighters and the sounds of the cancan dancers that he saw with his father. Dance lit a fire in José’s soul….


When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop

When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop is not specifically a dance book but absolutely deserves to be on this list as the development of the music was so influential on dance and the creation of what we know today as Hip Hop dance. I think many adults will learn a thing or two about the history of a very much loved beginnings of hip hop! ""” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener”>You can check it out here on Amazon.com

BOOK BLURB:
On a hot day at the end of summer in 1973 Cindy Campbell threw a back-to-school party at a park in the South Bronx. Her brother, Clive Campbell, spun the records. He had a new way of playing the music to make the breaks―the musical interludes between verses―longer for dancing. He called himself DJ Kool Herc and this is When the Beat Was Born. From his childhood in Jamaica to his youth in the Bronx, Laban Carrick Hill’s book tells how Kool Herc came to be a DJ, how kids in gangs stopped fighting in order to breakdance, and how the music he invented went on to define a culture and transform the world.


Let’s Dance

Yes you read that write the author of this book is attributed to David Bowie! The lyrics of his song ‘Let’s Dance’ have been adapted and used to create this book. Artist and illustrator Hannah Marks has created a diverse and inclusive cast of characters to go along with the words which is why it belongs on this list. Take a look at it on Amazon.com here

BOOK BLURB:
“Let’s dance. Put on your red shoes and dance the blues…” Embrace the spirit and mood of iconic musician David Bowie in this must-have book for any Bowie fan, especially those wanting to introduce a new generation to a favorite musical artist. Lightly adapting the lyrics to “Let’s Dance” for a younger audience, kids and parents will soon be tapping their shoes to this lively book with bright, fun, whimsical artwork.


Jingle Dancer

This is a a wonderful window through dance into the Native American Culture. It was written by Cynthia Leitich Smith and Illustrated by Cornelius Van Writght and Ying-Hwa Hu and you can take a look at it on Amazon.com here.

BOOK BLURB:
Jenna loves the tradition of jingle dancing that has been shared by generations of women in her family, and she hopes to dance at the next powwow. But she has a problem—how will her dress sing if it has no jingles?


Kitchen Dance

This is a beautiful book about the small and special moments that become some of best and most favorite memories. It is also a wonderful bedtime story as it moves from a faster dance to a beautiful melodic lullaby of words as the parents slowly dance their children off to sleep. You can check it out here on Amazon.com

BOOK BLURB:
A little girl wakes in the night to mysterious, inviting noises. She rouses her brother, and they sneak downstairs and peek into the kitchen. To their amazement and delight, their parents are dancing and singing—“?Como te quiero! Oh, how I love you!” —as they clean up and put food away….


The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish

When I first started my research for this list I will admit my own mind was limited to what I thought I would find on the topic about diversity in dance and then along comes this book The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish Swish Swish. It is a colorful celebration of dance and being true to yourself. To check it out on Amazon.com click here.

BOOK BLURB:
The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish encourages readers to boldly be exactly who they are. Written by a founding member of the nationally recognized Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH), this playful picture book offers a quirky twist on a classic nursery rhyme by illustrating all of the ways to “work it”. The story plays off “The Wheels on the Bus” as it follows a drag queen who performs her routine in front of an awestruck audience. A fun frenzy of fierceness, this book will appeal to readers of all ages.


Maureen’s Irish Dance on the Stars

There are so many books dance books available about ballet, that in a list of books about diversity in dance, I think it is important to include books that showcase different styles and cultures that are not always written about which is why this book makes this list being about Irish Dance. To check it out go to Amazon.com here.

BOOK BLURB:
It’s a beautiful summer’s day in Ireland and Maureen dreams of dancing to the piper’s tune.

Can a trip to the moon, via a rainbow and a whimsical umbrella, make Maureen’s dream come true?


Watch Me Dance

Watch me Dance was written and illustrated by Andrea and Brian Pinkey who have collaborated on a few other books on this list. This book is a board book for young children and you can take a look at it on Amazon.com here

BOOK BLURB:
Watch Me Dance, explore the joys of rhythm and movement.


Tip-Tap Pop

Tip-Tap Pop written by Sarah Lynn and illustrated by Valeria Docampo is here on this list not just because it is about tap dance, a style not often written about, but because it is about diversity in another way – age. The story is about a young girl, but the focus of this story is on her much older grandfather and I don’t think many children see their grandparents dancing or ever really see older people as being able to do all the things younger people can. To take a look at this book on Amazon.com click here

BOOK BLURB:
Emma and her grandpa, Pop, are tap-dancing pals. They dig-shuffle-chug through town and put on a clickity-clacking, tip-tapping show every year on Emma’s birthday. But Pop is getting old. He starts forgetting things, even Emma’s birthday. And he stops dancing. Can Emma help Pop’s feet remember how to dance? Clickity-clack, clickity-clack, stomp-stomp-clickity-clack. . . . Endearing illustrations rendered in gouache and pencils show that even the smallest act may spark a memory in an Alzheimer’s sufferer.


Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat

Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat is a book filled with lyrical, rythmical and on beat poems that make kids want to move. This is not necessarily a book about dance, but this poetry has a beat and if something has a beat then you can dance to it! it also comes with a CD which is great! You can check it out her on Amazon.com

BOOK BLURB:
Poetry can have both a rhyme and a rhythm. Sometimes it is obvious; sometimes it is hidden. But either way, make no mistake, poetry is as vibrant and exciting as it gets. And when you find yourself clapping your hands or tapping your feet, you know you’ve found poetry with a beat!


Let’s Celebrate Navratri! (Nine Nights of Dancing & Fun)

Let’s Celebrate Navratri! (Nine Nights of Dancing & Fun) was written by Ajanta Chakraborty and Vivek Kumar and was edited by Janelle Diller. This book teaches about the Indian cultural celebration Navratri and as you can see on the cover, dance is a large part of the celebration. To take a look at this book on amazon.com click here

BOOK BLURB:
Poetry can have both a rhyme and a rhythm. Sometimes it is obvious; sometimes it is hidden. But either way, make no mistake, poetry is as vibrant and exciting as it gets. And when you find yourself clapping your hands or tapping your feet, you know you’ve found poetry with a beat!


Josephine Baker

Little People, Big Dreams is a series of educational books for children about different people in history who have lived extraordinary and outstanding lives. Josephine Baker was an entertainer and her life story has been beautifully written about by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara and drawn by Agathe Sorlet and you can check this book out on Amazon.com here

BOOK BLURB:
Meet Josephine Baker, the world-famous entertainer, activist, and French Resistance agent in this true story of her life! Part of the beloved Little People, BIG DREAMS series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the incredible life of Josephine Baker, from growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, during segregation to defying expectations and performing on the stage in Paris, where audiences fell in love with her.


Emma and Julia Love Ballet

Emma and Julia love ballet is a book written and illustrated by Barbara McClintock. It is a sweet book about a younger and older dancer who are both excited about a big performance at the theatre that night. You can check it out on Amazon.com here

BOOK BLURB:
Emma is little. Julia is big. They both love ballet. Emma takes ballet lessons. So does Julia. Emma is learning to be a ballerina. Julia is a professional ballerina….


The Only Boy in Ballet Class 

The Only Boy in Ballet Class written by Denise Grusk and illustrated by Amy Wummer is about a boy who loves to dance, but who is teased by even those closest to him about his passion! To check it out take a look at it on Amazon.com

BOOK BLURB:
Tucker loves ballet-even though some people don’t understand his passion for dancing. Taunted by the boys on the football field, tortured by dorky twin sisters, and teased by his Uncle Frank, Tucker doesn’t know how to help people see how ballet makes him feel . . . until one day, when an unexpected invitation to join the football game comes, and Tucker Dohr gets the chance to prove just what ballet dancing can do!


The Cambodian Dancer: Sophany’s Gift of Hope

I think one of the things I love most about The Cambodian Dancer: Sophany’s Gift of Hope written by Daryn Reicherter and Christy Hale and Bophal Penh are the illustrations that clearly show the intricate finger and hand movements that are so particular to this cultures dance. The story is moving and powerful as well. To check it out on Amazon.com click here

BOOK BLURB:
The Cambodian Dancer, a Cambodian book for children, is the true story of a Cambodian refugee — a dancer and teacher — who built a life in the U.S. after fleeing the Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge. She then became a counselor to other Cambodian refugees and created a school of dance for children. Her gift of hope was to teach children in the Cambodian community the traditional dances of their country, so young people growing up far away from the land of their ancestors would know about Cambodian culture and customs.


Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina

Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina
written by Lea Lyon and Alexandria LaFaye and illustrated by Jessica Gibson is a really interesting read and one that can create great discussions about the topic of racism and overcoming adversity with children. Click here to see this book on Amazon.com

BOOK BLURB:
Although there aren’t many ballet schools that will accept a girl like Sylvia in the 1950s, her local bookmobile provides another possibility. A librarian helps Sylvia find a book about ballet and the determined seven-year-old, with the help of her new books, starts teaching herself the basics of classical ballet.


Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with the Mexican Hat Dance

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with the Mexican Hat Dance was created by Alma F. Ada & F. Isabel Campoy and is a great book to include Mexican culture in your home or classroom. You can check it out here on Amazon.com

BOOK BLURB: As students prepare to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, they practice a Mexican dance and try their best not to step on the hat. Includes an informative section about Cinco de Mayo.


Celestina the Astronaut Ballerina:

Celestina the Astronaut Ballerina
was written by Donald Jacobsen and illustrated by Graham Evans. This book not only includes a lot of different multicultural characters it also shows girls that they can follow careers in the sciences and technology and succeed. To take a look at this book click here to go to Amazon.com

BOOK BLURB:
Celestina is a bold and brilliant little girl that wants to shoot fot eh moon! But, she’s bullied by kids and adults for her daring dream…..


Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson

Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson was written by Leda Schubert and Illustrated by  Theodore Taylor III. This is a powerful book that recounts the life of a woman who was told she would never be accepted to dance school because of her race and even had to be protected by other dancers on stage as audience members outraged by her part in a dance company rushed the stage. You can take a look at this book on Amazon.com here. 

BOOK BLURB:
This beautiful picture book tells the little-known story of Raven Wilkinson, the first African American woman to dance for a major classical ballet company and an inspiration to Misty Copeland.


i want to be a tutu

i want to be a tutu was written by author and mother Adrienne Banks who was inspired by her daughter when she was a toddler who wanted to be a ‘tutu’. You can take a look at this book on Amazon.com here

BOOK BLURB:
Kennedie Banks loves to pretend she is a “tutu.” Misses Tulle, her ballet teacher, announces the chance to be in a big play. Will Kennedie become a star ballerina? Or will she fall flat on her face? Read about the new friend Kennedie makes at the end of the book, “i want to be a tutu.”


Bottle Cap Boys On Royal Street

The Bottle Cap Boys On Royal Street by Rita Williams-Garcia and iluustrated by Damian Ward is receommended for 5-6 Year old kids. It is a book about the New Orleans tradition of dancing on Royal Street and is written with rhythm and rhyme. To check this book out on Amazon.com click here

BOOK BLURB: Tap dancing on sidewalks, especially in the city’s French Quarter, is a New Orleans tradition as familiar to some as Jazz, Creole and Cajun food and Mardi Gras…..


Song and Dance Man

Song and Dance Man by Karen Ackerman and Illustrated by Stephen Gammell is a book with the message that you are only as old as you feel. It is recommended for 3-7 year olds and you can take a look at this book on Amazon.com here

BOOK BLURB: “In this affectionate story, three children follow their grandfather up to the attic, where he pulls out his old bowler hat, gold-tipped cane, and his tap shoes. Grandpa once danced on the vaudeville stage, and as he glides across the floor, the children can see what it was like to be a song and dance man…..


Dance & Ballet Books for Young Readers & Tweens that Showcase Diversity!

Sugar Plum Ballerinas (Series)

Sugar Plum Ballerinas is a series written by Whoopi Goldberg, and co-authored by Deborah Underwood. The illustrations are by Maryn Roos and the books are aimed at kids 6-10 years old. The main characters are African-American which is a breath of fresh air and I only wish there were more books in the series To check the book and series out click here to view on Amazon.com

BOOK BLURB:
Alexandrea Petrakova Johnson does not want to be a beautiful ballerina, and she does not want to leave her friends in Apple Creek. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop her ballet-crazy mother from moving them to Harlem, or from enrolling Al at the Nutcracker School of Ballet……


Stardust School of Dance

Stardust School of Dance was written by Zanni Louise and has art created by Sr Sanchez and is currently a series of four books about the adventures of four diverse dancers at their suburban dance studio. A great series for 6-10 year old readers who love to dance and you can check the series out at the bookdepository.com here

BOOK BLURB:
Dance with your heart and reach for the stars! Stardust is a small dance studio in a modest suburban hall, which radiates light and hope for the neighbourhood kids. It’s a place to belong, to dream and to dance! Each book follows the daily life of one of the young dancers as they move through the challenges of family, friendship and growing up, all against the backdrop of dance. Readers 6-10 years will fall in love with Bertie, Lulu, Priya and Edmund and their heart warming, funny stories beautifully told by award winning children’s author Zanni Louise.


Story Bird Dance and The Haunted Studio (Volume 1)

Story Bird Dance and The Haunted Studio (Volume 1) is the first book in the Story Bird Dance series written by Yolanda King who writes because she sees a need for more inclusive stories she can read to her children in her own home. The pictures were created by Pia Reyes and the book can be found on Amazon.com here

BOOK BLURB:
Something’s going on in this house… Sky, Jada and Nia love their dance studio and their instructor, Ms. Kenya. But when they learn that their studio is being moved to an empty old house, their excitement turns to dread. While exploring the house’s second floor, they encounter a ghost! They have to get rid of the ghost before the other students find out it exist. Who’d want to dance in a haunted studio?


Ashton’s Dancing Dreams

Ashton’s Dancing Dreams written by sisters Camryn, Kaitlyn & Olivia Pitts is one in a series called Faithgirlz / The Daniels Sisters. The rest of the series is not about dance, but this book is and it is a great introduction to a book is full of diverse characters and is aimed at the 8-12 age range. To check this book out and the others in the series click here to go to Amazon.com

BOOK BLURB:
Ansley’s the baker. Amber’s the volleyball player. Ashton “Cammie” Daniels has fallen in love with dancing. There’s nothing she loves better than attending dance class with her two friends, Rani and June. But that joy is in jeopardy when Rani’s father announces they may be moving to London…..


Alicia Alonso Takes the Stage

Alicia Alonzo Takes the Stage is part of the Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls series. Alicia Alonzo moved from Cuba to the United States dreaming of becoming a famous dancer when she began to lose her sight. This is a wonderful book to add to any collection about diversity not only does it tell the tale of immigration and living in different countries but also of living with a disability and how both adversities made her stronger. To check it out on Amazon.com click here.

Alicia Alonso Takes the Stage is the story of a world-renowned prima ballerina who impressed people all over the world with her beautiful dancing while living with visual impairments. This is a story about perseverance in the face of adversity, and how the arts can afford women the opportunity to achieve a global impact.

This historical fiction chapter book includes additional text on Alicia Alonso’s lasting legacy, as well as movement-based activities designed to encourage creativity and confidence through dance.

BOOK BLURB:
Alicia Alonso Takes the Stage is the story of a world-renowned prima ballerina who impressed people all over the world with her beautiful dancing while living with visual impairments. This is a story about perseverance in the face of adversity, and how the arts can afford women the opportunity to achieve a global impact.

This historical fiction chapter book includes additional text on Alicia Alonso’s lasting legacy, as well as movement-based activities designed to encourage creativity and confidence through dance.


A Girl Named Misty

This book written by Kelly Starling Lyons and illustrated by Melissa Manwill is a 48 page short, easy young reader book. It is part of the American Girl Series – A Girl Named….. Although it is not the indepth biography it is a great introduction to Misty’s life and a very inspirational read to budding dancers as well! To have a closer look click here to go to Amazon.com

BOOK BLURB:
The A Girl Named series tells the stories of how ordinary American girls grew up to be extraordinary American women. Misty Copeland became the first African American Female Principal Dancer for the American Ballet Theatre, but how did she get there? A Girl Named Misty describes the defining moments that made up her childhood and adolescence with full-color illustrations throughout. In addition to stories and facts about Misty’s upbringing and accomplishments, the book includes a timeline and a glossary, plus a profile of a noteworthy and contemporary American girl following in Misty’s graceful footsteps to lead the way for African American women in the arts.


When I Grow Up: Misty Copeland (Scholastic Reader, Level 3)

Written by Lexi Ryals and illustrated by Ervin Madrid this biography about Misty copeland has been created for leveled reading in particular children 6-8 years old. This book explores ho Misty has become one of the most famous ballerinas in the world and you can take a look at it on Amazon.com here

BOOK BLURB:
Misty Copeland is one of the most famous dancers in the world. But before she was dancing for millions of fans, Misty was just a young girl who loved ballet, even though she didn’t look like the typical ballerina. Learn how she made it all the way to the top in this exciting level 3 biography!


Life In Motion – Young Readers Addition

Life in Motion was actually authored by Misty Copeland herself . Her autobiography Life in Motion is generally a longer more difficult read, but this particular version of the book has been created for the younger or teen reader to enjoy, but make no mistake it still details many of the hard times in her life, but is just easier to read. To have a look at this inspiring book click here to go to Amazon.com

BOOK BLURB:
As the first African-American principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland has been breaking down all kinds of barriers in the world of dance. But when she first started dancing—at the late age of thirteen—no one would have guessed the shy, underprivileged girl would one day make history in her field….


Ballerina Dreams

Ballerina Dreams was co-authored by Michaela DePrince an American dancer who is currently a soloist with the National Opera Ballet in the Netherlands. This book has been aimed at 7-9 year old reading levels, but also comes in other versions which you can take a look at here, but for the step into reading book click here to go to Amazon.com.

BOOK BLURB:
At the age of three, Michaela DePrince found a photo of a ballerina that changed her life. She was living in an orphanage in Sierra Leone at the time, but was soon adopted by a family and brought to America. Michaela never forgot the photo of the dancer she once saw, and quickly decided to make her dream of becoming a ballerina come true. She has been dancing ever since and is now a principal dancer in New York City and has been featured in the ballet documentary First Position, as well as Dancing with the StarsGood Morning America, and Oprah magazine.


To Dance: Special Edition

This is such a fun book to read about the life of Siena Cherson Siegel which she authored it is a graphic or cartoon novel! The illustrations were created by Mark Siegel and the words and illustrations work so well to tell Siena’s memoir about her dream to become dancer. To take a closer look at this book click here to view on Amazon.com

BOOK BLURB:
Ballerinas are young when they first dream of dance. Siena was six—and her dreams kept skipping and leaping, circling and spinning, from airy runs along a beach near her home in Puerto Rico, to dance classes at the School of American Ballet, to her debut performance on stage with the New York City Ballet while working with ballet legend George Balanchine.


Kaylee’s Choice (Kaylee O’Shay, Irish Dancer) (Volume 1) 

In this series of books you are thrown into a world where dancers glue their socks to their legs so they don’t fall down and wear large curly wigs pinned to their heads with millions of hair pins. This list is about diversity in dance, so many books are written about mainly ballet that diversity in dance includes showcasing books that are focus on various styles of dance Rod Vick author of the book pictured has written several more books about Kaylee and her Irish dancing and you can check this book out on Amazon.com here. and have a look for others in the series.

BOOK BLURB:
Ten-year-old Kaylee O’Shay’s father wants her to be a soccer star, just like he was. However, Kaylee joins an Irish dance group and throws the family into disarray. When she finds herself torn between two things she loves, Kaylee realizes that making decisions about activities, friends, and school can be difficult. And no matter what she decides, she will hurt someone she loves.


Lola Levine and the Ballet Scheme

Lola Levine is a series of books about a young multiracial girl who is into soccer and science and this particular book finds her having to work out her differences with someone whose passion is to dance. To take a look at it, click here to go to Amazon.com

BOOK BLURB:
When new classmate Bella, a ballet dancer, walks into Lola’s class at Northland Elementary, all Lola can see is pink everywhere–pink ribbons, a pink sweatshirt, and pink tennis shoes. Yuck! Pink is Lola’s least favorite color. Plus, Ballet isn’t nearly as hard as soccer, is it?


Katarina Ballerina

New York City Ballet Principal Dancer Tiler Peck and Boradway and TV actor Kyle Harris have collaborated to write Katarina Ballerina that came out as the first book in what looks like a wonderful new series about a young girl determined to make her dreams in dance come true. ""” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener”>You can check it out here on Amazon.com

BOOK BLURB:
Ten-year-old Katarina is a New York City girl through and through, but the buzz of the city drives her to feel that she is meant for more than her ordinary day to day routine. Her big dream? To become a prima ballerina.


Power Kids: The Dom: The Dance that Saved the World from the Virus

This book was released in March 19, 2020 and is a very relevant and timely book don’t you think! Currently it is only availble as a kindle version, but you don’t need a kindle to read it, just the free app so you can read it like anyother e-reader. Check it out here on Amazon.com

BOOK BLURB:
The Pharamavirus has taken over the world! People are getting sick and the fear from the virus has led to a world of chaos. Dom turns into a superhero and uses his super dance powers to save the world from the virus by spreading joy and love.


About the Author

Samantha Bellerose

Samantha is a wife and mother of four kids aged 1-9. She danced and acted from the age of 5 and performed in film clips, on television, and in musical theatre professionally. She also taught dance, but after leaving the profession to backpack through Europe, Canada and the USA with her husband for three years, she then completed an Education Degree and taught within primary schools in Australia. Today she is a business owner with her husband and the creator and writer for Dance Parent 101 where she hopes her previous experience as a dancer, current experience as a dance parent and the research and writing skills she gained completing her education degree will help enlighten parents on their journey with their child through the world of dance.