Having a Bachelor of Teaching and having taught in primary (junior) schools for several years, one of the most important things I think any parent can do for their child is to read to them! Read every single day with them! Having four children of my own, I can’t tell you how easy it was for my kids to learn to read when they were ready to!
The best dance books that are also educational will contain information and images not just about dance but also feature information on mathematical, scientific, literacy or other areas of a school curriculum in a fun and engaging way for kids.
Side note – I don’t actively teach my kids to read. Yes I expose them to books, and letters and literature and writing and more – but it is usually on their terms, when they are interested and ask me or when it comes naturally in their play. I have found that with each of my children so far, it has been like a light bulb switches on and all the subtle introductions and play and time we have spent together devouring the written language kind of comes together and that those symbols that represent letters on pages start to make sense to them. Until this time I don’t push them to read, but I do push their exposure to language and reading.
Therefore whenever I find books that cover two themes such as a book all about dance which my kids like reading about that also covers aspects of the school curriculum such as the alphabet, counting or any type of literacy, mathematical or even a scientific topic I jump at the chance to either buy it or borrow it from my library because in this way I am exposing my children in a fun way to concepts that need deep understanding and learning.
DANCE BOOKS THAT TEACH LITERACY SKILLS
B is for Ballet
B is for Ballet was written by John Robert Allman and Illustrated by Rachel Dean celebrates the world of ballet through the lens of the renowned American Ballet Theatre. It is a great way to learn more about the world famous ballet company whilst as the same time exploring literacy and the alphabet. To have a look at this book click here to go to Amazon.com.
A is for Audra
A is for Audra was written by the same author John Robert Allman as B is for Ballet, also on this list but was illustrated by Peter Emmerich. This book is not only a wonderful tribute to the ladies of Broadway, but a great educational book as it not only goes through the alphabet putting into the spotlight some of the most celebrated ladies who have traversed the stage, but also has a kind of Broadway dictionary included. Go to Amazon.com where you can actually check out the inside of this book and the wonderful illustrations.
Dance Legends Alphabet
This is really is a great book that not only explores the alphabet, but also teaches young dancers about the many known and unknown dancers that have come before them. From the well known Fred Astaire and Dame Margot Fonteyn to Raven Wilkinson the first African-American woman to dance for a major classical ballet company. Check out this book and a few of its pages here on Amazon.com
ABC Dance!: An Animal Alphabet
Author Sabrina Moyle and Illustraot Eunice Moyle have created a fun educational book where camels clog dance and dinos dab, foxes fandango and llamas lambada. It is a colorful and fun book for any toddler or preschooler, but older children enjoy listening or even reading this one to their younger siblings!! Check it out as well as some of it’s pages on Amazon.com here.
On Your Toes: A Ballet A B C
I am not going to lie, I have not actually read this particular title, but I have owned another book by Rachel Isadora ‘Opening Night’ since I was a little girl and it is one of my all time favourite books because of her illustrative style. From what I have seen, it does not have a lot of words and therefore may be best for a younger child. You can check it out on Amazon.com here.
B is for Breakdancing
B is for Breakdancing is a great book that really takes you on a journey around the globe showing how universal dance is whilst at the same time allowing you to brush up on your ABC’s. Written by Dr Tamara Pizzoli and illustrated by Howell Edwards Creative you can check out this fun book here on Amazon.com
ABCs of Animal Dances
If you are after a book to help inspire creative dance and movement then this ABCs of Animal Dances written and illustrated by Vanessa and Donna Solgado is just what you are after. You can get more information about it on Amazon.com
ABCs of Classical Ballet
Also by Vanessa Salgado with Donna Salgado is the ABCs of Classical Ballet. Vanessa wanted to create dance resources for parents that educated and stimulated children in various ways outside the dance studio. You can check the book out on Amazon.com here
DANCE BOOKS THAT TEACH NUMERACY AND MATH SKILLS
Bug Dance (Math Start 1)
Math Start stories show kids how math is used everyday through telling stories to teach math concepts in a fun way. This book is about different types of bugs learning a new dance in gym class, you can check it our here on Amazon.com
The Numbers Dance: A Counting Comedy
The Numbers Dance: A Counting Comedy was written by Josephine Nobisso and illustrated by Dasha Ziborova. This lesser known book would be the perfect gift for any young dancer because it really quite possibly wont already be in their book collection! The story revolves around numbers and different styles of dance, using rhyme and rhythm, and even has a beautiful moral to tell at the end – to accept everyone as they are. Check it out here on Amazon.com
Angelina Ballerina’s 123 Board Book
Angelina Ballerina books written by Kathrine Holabird and illustrated by Helen Craig are a firm favourite in our house and this 123 board book would be a great introduction to the series for toddlers and preschoolers. Angelina is a mouse who is learning to dance and in this book she counts herself and her mouseling friends as they dance together. Check it out here on Amazon.com
One Ballerina Two
I have always admired illustrator Jan Omerod, and this book which is authored by Vivian French is another lovely display of her wonderful work. The characters in this book are two girls, one older and one younger and you count down from ten plies to one hug as you journey through its pages. For more information check it out on Amazon.com here.
Giraffes Can’t Dance: Number Rumba
Giraffes can’t dance is a count along book from 1-10 with catchy rhymes and all themed along the original children’s picture book – Giraffes can’t dance. Made of thick sturdy card and with tabbed pages this is a great book for aspiring toddler and preschool dancers. Check Number Rumba out on Amazon.com here.
Pigs in the Corner: Fun with Math and Dance
Pigs in the Corner: Fun with Math and Dance by Amy Axelrod and illustrated by Sharon McGinley-Nally is a story teaching spatial awarness which is a concept that is taught in the mathematics curriculum. You can check it out on Amazon.com here
I Love My Tutu too!
I Love My Tutu Too! is a counting book by Ross Burach. A parade of animals in tutu’s join in until there are 10 tutu’s. A toddler favorite board book, you can check it out on Amazon.com here
Mis Lina’s Ballerina’s
Miss Lina’s Ballerina’s is not technically a counting book but with 8 ballet students on almost every page, there is a lot of maths that can be done with this book. Counting them, asking if there are 8 how many are missing from some pages, adding the dancers from one page to the next. Other books in the series have 10 dancers which would be a great addition to this book to continue counting and mathematics with a dance theme. To check this book out go to Amazon.com here
DANCE BOOKS THAT EXPLORE SCIENCE CONCEPTS
Bee Dance written and illustrated by Rick Chrustowski is a book that shows children how bees communicate to each other through a special figure eight patterned dance to indicate where food can be found. It is a fascinating read and a great opportunity to combine moving such as immitating the bees dance and learning about our world with children. To take a look at this book go to Amazon.com here.
The Honeybee That Learned to Dance: A Children’s Nature Picture Book
The Honeybee That Learned to Dance by Sharon Clark and Illustrated by Roberto Gonzalez is part of an educational science series on insects and is told from the perspective of a honey bee. You can check it out here on Amazon.com
‘Earthdance invites young readers to become not just part of the earth, but Earth itself.‘ This book was written by Joanner Ryder and Illustrated by Norman Gorbaty and uses the concept of dance, and lyrical writing to teach about how our earth functions. You can take a look at it here on Amazon.com
Mountain Dance, Water Dance
Ok so these books are not actually about dance, but explore the basics of science in our world, but they are based on the concept of dance. They look at the ebb and flow of what it took our earth to create and build the great peaks and valleys of our planet, through cumulus and wispy cirrus clouds and through the journey of water around our earth. Author and Illustrator Thomas Locker uses poetic and rythmical, dance like text and you can take a look at his books on Amazon here.
DANCE BOOKS THAT EXPLORE THE ARTS
Edgar Degas: Paintings That Dance (Smart About Art)
Edgar Degas: Paintings That Dance (Smart About Art) by Maryann Coca-leffler is a book created as though it is the research project of kristen N.Cole a student studying Degas for a school report. It is a great book that teaches not only facts about degas, but in a fun storytelling way. To check it out go to Amazon.com here
Matisse Dance with Joy
Matisse Dance for Joy by Susan Goldman Rubin comes in both hardcover and as a board book and I really liked how she used the art to encourage movement and dance in the reader as well as the block colors used which would really intrigue young children. Matisses art is all over this book and is a great introduction to his work. You can take a look at here on Amazon.com
Degas and the Little Dancer (Anholt’s Artists Books For Children)
Degas and the Little Dancer (Anholt’s Artists Books For Children) include reproductions of Degas’s artwork on everypage leading to a wealth of discussion and comparision between the artists original paintings and provide a spring board for exploring more of Degas’s art. Click her to take a look on Amazon.com