Need a few good book ideas to spark your dancer’s interest in reading? There are a number of intriguing biographies and engaging fictional books that will delight young readers. Whether they’re reading on their own, or with you at bed time, these books have empowering stories of dancers overcoming adversity, pursuing their passion, and finding true friends and family along the way.
Michaela DePrince was a young girl in Sierra Leone when civil war broke out. After losing both of her parents, she was sold to an orphanage where she endured terrible conditions and abuse before escaping to a refugee camp. Her story changes when she is adopted by an American family, and brought to the US along with her best friend, Mia. While still in Sierra Leone, she discovered an old magazine cover with a ballerina on the cover, and this beautiful image sparked her desire to pursue ballet. Through hard work and determination, she overcame prejudice to become a professional ballerina who has danced with prestigious companies around the world. Her story will inspire young dancers to work hard to overcome obstacles and to achieve their dreams.
Michaela’s story is available in a variety of formats for both young and more mature readers. The versions for older readers deal with some mature subject matter involving violence and death during Michaela’s childhood in Sierra Leone. Parents may want to read along with younger readers, or choose one of the books for younger readers. These versions tell her story without the detail of the books for older readers.
Misty Copeland began ballet at the age of 13, which was much later than most who wish to pursue a professional career in dance. However, her hard work and amazing natural talent, led her to become the first African American Principle Dancer with the renowned American Ballet Theater. Misty didn’t fit into the mold of a traditional ballerina, but she never let the negativity of others stop her from pursuing her dreams and sharing her gift with the world. Readers of all ages will be inspired by the beauty of Misty’s dancing and the strength of her spirit.
You Should Meet: Misty Copeland Grades 2-3
Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina Young Readers Edition Grades 4-7
Fans of Dance Moms and So You Think You Can Dance will be familiar with Maddie Ziegler. This young lady has made a name for herself through her dance routines and bubbly personality. She has also added writing to her list of accomplishments with a book for young readers called The Audition. This book tells the story of 12 year-old Harper who must join a new studio and dance team when she moves to Florida. She finds her first class at the new studio harder than she expected, and realizes she must work hard if she is going to prove to the other dancers and to herself that she deserves a spot on the team. Once she befriends another newbie at the studio, the girls work together to sharpen their skills and find places for themselves in the new studio.
The Audition by: Maddie Ziegler Grades 4-6