Break out the tutus and tap shoes--National Dance Day is upon us! National Dance Day (July 29) was established in 2010 to "educate the public about dance and its many benefits, as well as make dance accessible and inclusive to everyone." We have many fabulous books about all kinds of dance and dancers that will entice both young dancers and dance fans; check them out before or after your next dance lesson!
Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring is a glorious depiction of the creation and performance of famed modern dance choreographer Martha Graham's Appalachian Spring. As a celebration of American pioneer heritage and spirit (Aaron Copeland's composition includes varations on the Shaker hymn "Simple Gifts"), it became Martha Graham's favorite ballet ("Ballet for Martha" was the program's original working title).
Rachel Isadora has several ballet-themed picture books, but Bea at Ballet is my favorite. It's a simple and sweet story about a little girl attending a ballet class (and learning basic positions).
Jingle Dancer is a modern classic tale about a young Muscogee/Creek girl preparing for her first jingle dance. Author Cynthia Leitich Smith is a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, so her insights are authentic and relevant.
Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina is the young readers' adaptation of Misty Copeland's adult memoir by the same name. Copeland's original memoir is a compelling read suitable for high school students, but this brings Copeland's remarkable story to a younger audience. Copeland's unlikely and difficult journey to ballet stardom is a powerful and inspiring read.
Princess Cupcake Jones looks forward to every dance class, but executing an arabesque remains tricky. Will she be able to master it in time for the dance recital? Princess Cupcake Jones and the Dance Recital is one of several Princess Cupcake Jones stories, which are great for Fancy Nancy and Pinkalicious fans.
Song and Dance Man was published in 1988, when its audience likely had grandparents who lived during the vaudeville era. Despite that, this charming 1989 Caldecott Medal winner is an endearing story about a former vaudeville performer who shows off his signature moves to his delighted grandchildren. Thankfully, children's books are getting better about their depiction of grandparents and reflecting modern day grandparenting (rather than only featuring grandparents dealing with illness or forgetfulness); this remains one of the best for featuring an active and vibrant grandfather.
Want nonfiction books about dance? Look through the J 792.7 (tap dance) and J 792.8 (ballet) sections for more fantastic titles.
Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library