A round-up of our favourite ballet storybooks to inspire your little dancer during the school holidays. There’s something for even the littlest dancer, we promise you’ll love reading these too. You may even find some inspiration for book week!
Love is a Tutu
A board book with gorgeous illustrations that explores all the things we love about ballet… especially the tutus.
The bun, the barre, and even a tutu worn to bed are all brought to life by the bright retro illustrations of Sara Gillingham. This beautifully designed and playfully illustrated novelty board book is the perfect starting point for tiny ballerinas and parents alike. Sweet and spare rhymes prance across the pages, engaging the reader with real ballet terms and plenty of pink.
Author: Marilyn Singer | Illustrator: Alexandra Boiger
Age Range: 4 - 8 years
This gorgeous story is full of ballet terminology and the delightful tutu obsessed Tallulah. Definitely a story we will keep in our collection.
Tallulah just knew she could be a great ballerina, if only she had a tutu. So she starts ballet class. When she does not receive a tutu, she quits.
But everywhere she goes, things keep reminding her of ballet. Her neighbour's basset hound always stands in second position. The kitchen clock performs perfect ronds de jambe. And Tallulah can't seem to stop doing ballet, either. A park bench makes a perfect barre, and what better way to pet the dog than with a graceful plie?
Dancing in the Wings
Author: Debbie Allen | Illustrator: Kadir Nelson
Age Range: 4 - 8 years
A beautifully told and illustrated story. We were barracking for Sassy from the get go!
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. Dancing in the Wings is loosely based on actress/choreographer Debbie Allen's own experiences as a young dancer.
Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova
Author: Laurel Snyder | Illustrator: Julie Morstad
Age Range: 5 - 8 years
This gorgeous picture book tells the sweeping story of Anna Pavlova’s journey from inspired girl to renown Ballerina. A beautiful gift for any aspiring ballerina.
One night, young Anna's mother takes her to the ballet, and everything is changed. So begins the journey of a girl who will one day grow up to be the most famous prima ballerina of all time, inspiring legions of dancers after her: the brave, the generous, the transcendently gifted Anna Pavlova.
Author: Katharine Holabird | Illustrator: Helen Craig
Age Range: 0+
The book that launched an empire! First published in 1983 Angelina Ballerina is now a series of over 20 books and an animated/cartoon tv series.
Angelina is a pretty little mouse who wants more than anything else to become a ballerina. She dances all the time - even when she's supposed to be doing chores or getting ready for school. Her parents, Mr and Mrs Mouseling, are in despair - but then they think of a plan. They decide it's time for Angelina to go to ballet school - she works hard for years and years until she becomes the famous ballerina Mademoiselle Angelina!
Written & illustrated by Anfaney Gladwin
A great story with a beautiful message.
This uplifting novel follows Mitchell to third grade when he becomes a ballet danseur. He is under attack by his peers for choosing to do ballet.
Author: Noel Streatfield
Age Range: 8 - 12 years
This book always reminds us of the movie ‘You’ve Got Mail’ when Meg Ryan is in Fox Books recommending this book in tears… maybe it’s just us. We agree with her recommendation.
Pauline, Petrova and Posy Fossil are sisters - with a difference. All three were adopted as babies by Great Uncle Matthew, an eccentric and rich explorer who then disappeared, leaving them in the care of his niece Sylvia. The girls grow up in comfort until their money begins to run out and nobody can find Great Uncle Matthew. Things look bleak until they hit on an inspired idea: Pauline, Petrova and Posy will take to the stage. But it's not long before the Fossils learn that being a star isn't as easy as they first thought...
A story that will whisk your little dancer away into their imaginations… with an evil mouse king, nutcrackers coming to life, a sugar plum fairy and land of dolls. This classic story, which inspired the ballet, was written in 1812 so you might find a few words that need deciphering into 2020 lingo.
The Nutcracker captures better than any other story a child’s wonder at Christmas. The gift of a handsomely decorated nutcracker from a mysterious uncle sets the stage for a Christmas Eve like no other for the little girl Marie. That night, Marie’s extraordinary present comes to life, defends her from the taunting Mouse King, and whisks her off to the Kingdom of Dolls.
Author: Betsy Bird | Illustrator: Brandon Dorman
Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Oh, Lexy we can relate!! A beautifully told story with big furry blue giants that your little dancer will fall in love with. Perfect for any ballerina’s bookshelf.
In this rollicking picture book, a group of giants shows up at Lexy’s door wanting dance lessons. After some initial hesitation, Lexy is happy to teach them, and her dance classes end with all her students—as well as Lexy herself—overcoming their fears and putting on a boogying performance.
Looking for great Halloween costume inspiration for little dancers and a sweet story? This Zombie tale is not like all the others… contains all the things that usually frighten in Zombie stories and something that doesn’t – stage fright. Told in a lilting rhyming verse, we dig this book.
Zombelina loves to dance. She moonwalks with mummies and boogies with bats. She spins like a specter and glides like a ghost and loves to dance for her family the most. When Zombelina enrolls in a ballet class for real girls, her dancing gives everyone the chills! But when her first recital brings on a case of stage fright, her zombie moans and ghoulish groans scare her audience away. Only her devoted family's cheers, in their special spooky way, help Zombelina dance the ballet debut of her dreams.
By: Molly Idle
For Ages: 3 - 5 years
This picture book is beautifully illustrated in every shade of pink so of course, we like it!
Flora and her graceful flamingo friend explore the trials and joys of friendship through an elaborate synchronized dance. With a twist, a turn, and even a flop, these unlikely friends learn at last how to dance together in perfect harmony.
Author: Giles Andreae | Illustrations: Guy Parker-Rees
Ages: 3+ years
When Gerald is laughed out of the Jungle Dance… heartbreaking, but with a little help from a violin playing cricket he discovers the joy of dance. Hooray! A heart-warming and funny story encouraging readers to dance to the beat of their own drum.
Gerald the tall giraffe would love to join in with the other animals at the Jungle Dance, but everyone knows that giraffes can't dance . . . or can they?
Author: Jackie French | Illustrator: Bruce Whatley
Age Range: 4+ years
We loved this super cute story (and beautiful illustrations) of a determined kangaroo whose love for dance, practice and bravado pays off with a starring role.
Josephine is a kangaroo - who loves to dance. Her little brother, Joey, tells her that kangaroos don't dance, they hop - but Josephine continues to point her toes and leap through the air. When a ballet troupe comes to town and both the lead ballerina and understudy are injured, Josephine's talents are called upon to help save the day. Can she do it and, more importantly, does it matter that she's a kangaroo?
Author: Sheena Knowles | Illustrator: Rod Clement
Age Range: 4 - 8 years
An entertaining tale in rhyming verse which follows Edwina’s search for a job… her first audition is to be a ballet dancer.
In this sequel to the popular Edward the Emu, Edward and his mate Edwina are the proud parents of ten little emu eggs. "Don't get depressed. I'll find a job, you stay on the nest," says Edwina to her stunned mate. And so Edwina sets out to find a job.
Have you read any great books about dance or ballet that we've missed? We'd love to know what you've been reading!