Ballet: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about ballet?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to ballet. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about ballet.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

When it comes to children’s stories about ballet, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Nutcracker to popular sellers like The Nutcracker: The Original 1853 Edition With Illustrations to some of our favorite hidden gems like I Dreamed I was a Ballerina.

We hope this list of kids books about ballet can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

The Nutcracker: A BabyLit Dancing Primer book
#1
The Nutcracker: A BabyLit Dancing Primer
Written by Jennifer Adams and illustrated by Alison Oliver
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

BabyLit(R) is a fashionable way to introduce your baby to the world of classic literature With this colorfully illustrated board book version of the classic Christmas-time ballet, Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver present a new holiday favorite, The Nutcracker: A BabyLit(R) Dancing Primer. This board book features soldiers marching, mice prancing, snowflakes swirling, dolls bending, and buffoons skipping as a way to introduce basic movement terms to babies and toddlers. Jennifer Adams is the author of many books including Remarkably Jane: Notable Quotations on Jane Austen and the popular Edgar the Raven series. Jennifer works as a writer and editor in Salt Lake City, Utah. Alison Oliver runs Sugar design studio. Her design portfolio includes everything from logos to packaging and product design for clients such as Chronicle Books, Citibabes, and Aerie. She lives in New York.

The Nutcracker book
#2
The Nutcracker
Written by Patrick Regan and illustrated by Natasha Kuricheva
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-8

Experience the magic of Tchaikovsky’s classic tale with this lavishly illustrated keepsake book. The Nutcracker is a magical story beloved by generations of children. Follow along as enchanted toys spring to life, dancers glide and twirl, and a little girl learns that kindness is the greatest gift of all. This familiar and charming tale combines with Natasha Kuricheva’s lavishly painted illustrations to create a keepsake book for the whole family to enjoy.

The Nutcracker book
#3
The Nutcracker
Written and illustrated by Susan Jeffers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

New York Times bestselling artist and Caldecott Honor winner Susan Jeffers has created a Nutcracker as only she can—with lavish illustrations, magnificent detail, a glitter-brushed cover, and enchanting holiday scenes on every page. This is The Nutcracker as you’ve never seen it before! Makes a lovely keepsake and gift. Join Marie, Fritz, and the intriguing Nutcracker himself on a magical Christmas Eve adventure. Behold the frightful Mouse King, the elegant Sugar Plum fairies, and the entire Land of Sweets in this dazzling, gorgeously illustrated holiday classic. With spare text based on the story in the ballet, this book offers a front-row seat to the enthralling tale that is a perennial favorite of adults and children alike. And for Susan Jeffers fans looking for extra content, an author’s note is included at the end of the book, in which she explains what inspired her to turn this holiday tradition into a show-stopping picture book.

Disney The Nutcracker and the Four Realms: A Center Stage Pop-Up Book book
#4
Disney The Nutcracker and the Four Realms: A Center Stage Pop-Up Book
Written and illustrated by Courtney Acampora
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

The Ballerina of the Realms dances on every page of this magical book! From Disney’s all-new live action film The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, follow the elegant Ballerina of the Realms as she dances center stage in this artistic pop-up book, celebrating each of the unique and picturesque Four Realms. This beautiful format is a perfect holiday gift for fans of this classic tale, full of colorful characters and no shortage of surprises.

The Nutcracker book
#5
The Nutcracker
Written by E.T.A. Hoffman and illustrated by Don Daily
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Adults as well as children look forward to attending an annual performance of The Nutcracker. To sweeten the anticipation and prolong the joy — or just to establish a lovely tradition—settle in with this charming retelling of a young girl’s dreamy visit to the Land of the Sugarplum Fairy. The story is enhanced with magnificent color illustrations created especially for this edition by the late award-winning artist Don Daily. This high-quality, handsomely produced volume is destined for the permanent home library.

  1. The Nutcracker (Little Golden Book) - A Christmas classic returns to Little Golden Books, with beautiful new artwork by a beloved Golden Books illustrator! The Nutcracker is back in print as a Little Golden Book, with all-new illustrations by Sheilah Beckett, who started illustrating Golden Books in the 1950s. This lovely retelling of the famous ballet will be a perfect holiday gift for any child who loves the ballet, Christmas stories, and fairy tales!

  2. The Nutcracker - Each December, generations of children delight in the ballet version of the quintessential Christmas story The Nutcracker. But few have had the opportunity to revel in the richly detailed original tale. Now, in this glorious new edition, acclaimed children’s book author and editor Janet Schulman returns to the source’E.T.A. Hoffmann’s “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice.” Here we meet Marie, her Nutcracker, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and all the other delightful characters, and we discover the answers to questions left unanswered by the ballet, like why the Nutcracker and the King of Mice were enemies.

  3. The Nutcracker - The New York City Ballet presents a classic ballet tale for a modern ballet lover with George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, a holiday favorite. The New York City Ballet is known for showcasing classic stories of the ballet with their trademark stylish and modern sensibility. For the first time, this beloved holiday story is told based on George Balanchine’s quintessential production. The storyline of this gorgeous picture book mimics the choreography of the famous ballet and the illustrations are inspired by the backdrops and scenery from the actual production. The New York City Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker is considered to be “the” leading production in the world. A holiday tradition for many families, now readers who can’t travel to New York will be able to experience this colorful celebratory story. A must-have for every aspiring ballerina’s library and a holiday tradition for every family’s bookshelf.

  4. The Story of the Nutcracker Ballet - Celebrate the season with one of the most beloved holiday stories of all-time, The Story of the Nutcracker Ballet. The perfect addition to your Christmastime! Featuring glorious illustrations by Caldecott Honor-winner, Diane Goode, this beautiful and adventurous classic tale will dance its way into your family’s holiday traditions for years to come.

The Nutcracker book
#10
The Nutcracker
Written by Stephanie Spinner and illustrated by Peter Malone
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Christmas just isn’t Christmas without The Nutcracker! This beautiful book, which includes a fully orchestrated CD of the score, invites children to dance, prance, and relive the ballet long after the tree comes down. Peter Malone’s exquisite illustrations capture all the magic of The Nutcracker’s most memorable scenes: the Christmas Eve party, Godfather Drosselmeyer’s spellbinding visit, and the ferocious battle between the Mouse King and the Nutcracker. Marie’s journey to the Land of Sweets, where the Sugar Plum Fairy welcomes her with exuberant dancers from around the globe—and toothsome desserts—springs to life as never before. Stephanie Spinner’s lyrical text, Peter Malone’s jewel-like artwork, and a sparkling performance of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s unforgettable music make this a gift to inspire even the very youngest dancer.

The Nutcracker: The Original 1853 Edition With Illustrations book
#11
The Nutcracker: The Original 1853 Edition With Illustrations
Written by E.T.A. Hoffman and illustrated by St. Simon
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-12

Sometimes you just want to have the original. This is one of the earliest known English translation of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic children’s tale, “Nutcracker and Mouse-King,’ which was penned in German in 1816. While Alexandre Dumas, père was making this story famous in France, this translation by Mrs. St. Simon was making it popular in the English-speaking world. The stage was set for Tchaikovsky to bring the story into the 20th century in his famous ballet. This edition carefully re-constructs the text of the 1853 edition, and also includes the original woodcut illustrations that accompanied it. At Christmas, you want to read aloud to your children the same stories that delighted countless other children over the decades and centuries over the holidays. If that is what you’re looking for, this edition is for you. Or, if you just trying to fathom what on earth Tchaikovsky is portraying in his ballet, reading an early English translation that aimed to be faithful to the original is a great start.

The Nutcracker: The Original Holiday Classic book
#12
The Nutcracker: The Original Holiday Classic
Written by E.T.A. Hoffman and illustrated by Arkady Roytman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-12

Publishing just in time for the forthcoming 2018 film adaptation, this edition of The Nutcracker is sure to enchant readers young and old. On Christmas Eve, seven-year-old Marie and her eight-year-old brother Fritz anxiously await their Christmas gifts. When their godfather—a clock builder and toymaker—arrives, he unveils an ornate clockwork castle adorned with whirling figurines for the children. While Fritz plays with the clock, Marie is taken aside and given another gift—a nutcracker. After Fritz grabs the nutcracker from Marie and breaks its jaw by cracking too many nuts, their playtime ends and they head off to bed. When the clock strikes twelve, magic makes its way into this enduring tale and an epic battle ensues. This timeless classic, featuring all-new full-color and black-and-white illustrations by artist Arkady Roytman and abridged text by Gina Gold, is the perfect story to get anyone in the holiday spirit!

The Nutcracker and the Mouse King book
#13
The Nutcracker and the Mouse King
Written by E.T.A. Hoffman and illustrated by Robert Ingpen
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Marie kept gazing at the dear little man, whom she had loved at first sight, and she saw what a kind face he had. His pale-green, slightly protuberant eyes expressed nothing but friendliness and goodwill. And the neat white cotton-wool beard on his chin suited the little man very well, setting off the sweet smile of his bright-red mouth. The Nutcracker and the Mouse King is well-loved by many as the inspiration for Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet, performed as a Christmas spectacle the world over. The ballet was based on a French retelling of the story, and Hoffmann’s German original is rarely translated in its entirety. In addition to telling the familiar tale of the gentle young girl and her love for the enchanted Nutcracker, who leads the toy soldiers in a battle against the wicked Mouse King and whisks her away to the Land of Toys, the original text also includes the story of the cursed Princess Pirlipat and the hard nut, which explains the background of how the poor Nutcracker came to be. This sumptuous volume, published to celebrate the bicentenary of the tale’s first publication, brings together the complete, unabridged German classic in a new translation by the eminent translator Anthea Bell, with more than 70 breathtaking illustrations by the award-winning artist Robert Ingpen.

The Nutcracker book
#14
The Nutcracker
Written by E.T.A. Hoffman and illustrated by Aliana Brodmann and Gennady Spirin
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

On Christmas Eve, Marie Stahlbaum huddles in the dark with her brother, Fritz, waiting for the Christ Child to come. When their parents open the doors to the parlor, the scene that awaits them is mesmerizing: a Christmas tree aglow with candles and more toys than they could have imagined. Godfather Drosselmeir has made them a fine castle with dancing ladies and leaping men, a clever toy fox, and battalions of soldiers. But Marie falls in love when she finds the one last gift tucked under the tree - the Nutcracker

  1. The Nutcracker - Hoffmann’s classic Christmas fairy tale, immortalized by Tchaikovsky’s ballet, is brought to life by the gorgeous contemporary artwork of Finnish illustrator Sanna Annukka, and is the perfect holiday gift for adults and children alike. The Nutcracker captures, better than any other story, a child’s wonder at Christmas. On Christmas Eve, Fritz and Marie excitedly await the arrival of Godfather Drosselmeier and the marvelous gifts he brings for them every year. When Marie discovers a rather curious nutcracker doll amongst the presents, she suddenly finds herself caught up in an age-old battle and ultimately transported to a magical world of sugar-frosted castles, chocolate kings, and true love. This cloth-bound edition combines the charm of Hoffmann’s original eighteenth-century tale with the freshness of Sanna Annukka’s gorgeous illustrations in this striking keepsake edition that will be treasured and reread by you and your loved ones for years to come.

  2. The Nutcracker of Nuremberg - Based on the classic Christmas story by E. T. A. Hoffmann, The Nutcracker of Nuremberg is the magical adventure of Marie Stahlbaum’s favourite toy, the Nutcracker, who battles the nefarious Mouse King in battle and takes the reader on a wonderful adventure, into a magical land of dolls. Dumas’s version was adapted by the Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky into the famous ballet The Nutcracker. Contents include: Part I: The Story of the Nutcracker of Nuremberg, Part II: The Story of the Nut Krakatuk and the Princess Pirlipate, and Part III: The Story of Marie and the King of the Toys. This wonderful story is accompanied by the beautiful silhouettes cut by Else Hasselriis. Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870) was a famous French writer. He is best remembered for his exciting romantic sagas, including The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. Despite making a great deal of money from his writing, Dumas was almost perpetually penniless thanks to his extravagant lifestyle. His novels have since been translated into nearly a hundred different languages, and have inspired over two hundred motion pictures. Pook Press celebrates the great ‘Golden Age of Illustration’ in children’s classics and fairy tales- a period of unparalleled excellence in book illustration. We publish rare and vintage Golden Age illustrated books, in high-quality editions, so that the masterful artwork and story-telling can continue to delight both young and old.

  3. The Nutcracker Comes to America: How Three Ballet-Loving Brothers Created a Holiday Tradition - Every December, The Nutcracker comes to life in theaters all across the United States. But how did this 19th-century Russian ballet become such a big part of the holidays in 21st-century America? Meet Willam, Harold, and Lew Christensen, three small-town Utah boys who caught the ballet bug in the early 1900s. They performed on vaudeville and took part in the New York City dance scene. Russian immigrants shared the story of The Nutcracker with them, and during World War II, they staged their own Christmastime production in San Francisco. It was America’s first full-length version and the beginning of a delightful holiday tradition.

  4. The Nutcracker Ballet - This beautifully illustrated adaptation of the Nutcracker delivers timeless magic and wonder right to your fingertips. A paperback edition offers front-row tickets to this beloved holiday tradition. It’s Christmas Eve in 19th century Europe. And on this magical evening, young Clara’s eccentric godfather has given her a beautiful wooden nutcracker. As midnight strikes, Clara’s wooden toy transforms into a handsome prince, and Christmas quickly becomes even more enchanting. The prince takes Clara on a romantic overnight adventure into a dream world of delicacies called the Land of Sweets. Clara’s adventure ends as she wakes up snuggly tucked in her bed. As she embraces her nutcracker, she realizes that the best part of Christmas…is the magic it brings.

Nutcracker book
#19
Nutcracker
Written by E.T.A. Hoffmann and illustrated by Maurice Sendak
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

“A classic, new and complete. One of the ten best illustrated children’s books of the year.” — New York Times Book Review The tale of Nutcracker, written by E.T.A. Hoffmann in 1816, has fascinated and inspired artists, composers, and audiences for almost two hundred years. It has retained its freshness because it appeals to the sense of wonder we all share.

Maurice Sendak designed brilliant sets and costumes for the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Christmas production of Nutcracker and created even more magnificent pictures especially for this book. He joined with the eminent translator Ralph Manheim to produce this illustrated edition of Hoffmann’s wonderful tale, destined to become a classic for all ages.

The world of Nutcracker is a world of pleasures. Maurice Sendak’s art illuminates the delights of Hoffmann’s story in this rich and tantalizing treasure.

The Sleeping Beauty book
#20
The Sleeping Beauty
Written by New York City Ballet and illustrated by Valeria Docampo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In this stunning follow-up to the bestselling holiday classic The Nutcracker, The New York City Ballet presents another timeless tale for a modern ballet lover with The Sleeping Beauty. The New York City Ballet presents classic stories of the ballet with their trademark stylish, modern sensibility. This lavishly illustrated book follows the storyline, choreography, costumes, and sets of the New York City Ballet’s production of The Sleeping Beauty. With beautiful art illustrated by Valeria Docampo, this magnificent retelling is a perfect gift for an aspiring ballerina or any family who wants to add this enchanting fairy tale classic to their library.

I Dreamed I was a Ballerina book
#21
I Dreamed I was a Ballerina
Written by Anna Pavlova and illustrated by Edgar Degas
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Every girl remembers her first trip to the ballet: the anticipation beforehand, the orchestra’s first notes, the ethereal beauty of the ballerinas. This is a tale of one such girl who was caught up in ballet’s mesmerizing spell and became one of the greatest ballerinas of all time.

In a story drawn from her memoirs, Anna Pavlova describes her first visit to the ballet to see the Sleeping Beauty. With simple, childlike language, she captures her love for her mother, the splendor of the ballet, and the moments that changed her life. The words are matched with paintings, pastels, and drawings of the French Impressionist Edgar Degas, to give this story all the magic of a fairytale.

Complete with short biographies of Pavlova and Degas, I Dreamed I Was a Ballerina will delight any child with ballerina dreams.

A Dance Like Starlight book
#22
A Dance Like Starlight
Written by Kristy Dempsey and illustrated by Floyd Cooper
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Little ballerinas have big dreams. Dreams of pirouettes and grande jetes, dreams of attending the best ballet schools and of dancing starring roles on stage. But in Harlem in the 1950s, dreams don’t always come true—they take a lot of work and a lot of hope. And sometimes hope is hard to come by.

But the first African-American prima ballerina, Janet Collins, did make her dreams come true. And those dreams inspired ballerinas everywhere, showing them that the color of their skin couldn’t stop them from becoming a star.

In a lyrical tale as beautiful as a dance en pointe, Kristy Dempsey and Floyd Cooper tell the story of one little ballerina who was inspired by Janet Collins to make her own dreams come true.

Firebird book
#23
Firebird
Written by Misty Copeland and illustrated by Christopher Myers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

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.

Lyrical and affecting text paired with bold, striking illustrations that are some of Caldecott Honoree Christopher Myers’s best work, makes Firebird perfect for aspiring ballerinas everywhere.

  1. First Stories: Nutcracker - Push, pull, and slide into the holiday magic of The Nutcracker! Bring the classic Nutcracker story to life by pulling the tabs, spinning the wheels, and sliding the characters in First Stories: The Nutcracker. Join Clara and the Nutcracker as they go on a magical journey in this beloved tale based on the beautiful ballet. With movements on every page, youngsters will love this engaging introduction to the holiday classic.

  2. The Sound Orchestra: The Nutcracker - Follow Clara on a magical Christmas adventure in this retelling of the classic ballet story. Watch the Nutcracker battle the Mouse King, meet the Sugar Plum Fairy and journey to the Land of Sweets, where wonder and excitement await… Including music from: ‘The Dance of the Reed Flutes’, ‘The Waltz of Flowers’ and ‘The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’.

  3. Love Is a Tutu - 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. Parents and toddlers together will sigh Bravo as they turn off the light.

  4. The Story Orchestra, The Sleeping Beauty - In this retelling of the classic ballet story, bring Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty to life by pressing the musical notes on each page. Join the King and Queen as they throw a party for their new baby, Princess Aurora. But when a terrible guest arrives and places a curse on princess, the kingdom must find the one special person who can defeat it… Read the story and then turn to the back of the book to read about the music clips. The third title in the Story Orchestra series, following on from The Four Seasons, and The Nutcracker, is for readers 4 and up.

Tallulah's Tap Shoes book
#28
Tallulah's Tap Shoes
Written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

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?

The Illustrated Book of Ballet Stories book
#29
The Illustrated Book of Ballet Stories
Written by Barbara Newman and illustrated by Gil Tomblin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

In story and illustrations, presents five classic ballets: Giselle, Coppelia, Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, and Swan Lake. Includes photographs from Royal Ballet productions, and is accompanied by an audio CD.

The Nutcracker book
#30
The Nutcracker
Written by E.T.A. Hoffman and illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In this retelling of the original 1816 German story, Godfather Drosselmeier gives young Marie a nutcracker for Christmas, and she finds herself in a magical realm where she saves a boy from an evil curse.

Ballet Bunnies book
#31
Ballet Bunnies
Written and illustrated by Lucy Freegard
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

Betty dreams of becoming a great dancer and performing onstage. At home, she’s unstoppable, happily pirouetting through every room. But, in ballet class, everything changes: she feels clumsy and frightened of forgetting the steps. Can her sympathetic teacher help Betty find her poise, balance, and confidence in time for the big end-of-year recital? Kids will shout BRAVO for this adorable little ballerina bunny!

Glad, Glad Bear! (Bear's Feelings) book
#32
Glad, Glad Bear! (Bear's Feelings)
Written and illustrated by Kimberly Gee
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-8

Bear is very, very, very GLAD today! He’s taking his first ballet class. But he’s a little nervous too. This sweet and silly picture book is an honest exploration of feelings that little ones—and grown-ups!—are sure to relate to.

Bear is so excited that today is dance day! He has his new leggings, slippers, and tutu, and he is ready to go. But when he gets there, he feels a little shy, a little unsure, and even a little afraid. What can make him feel better? Dancing, of course!

This charming companion to Mad, Mad Bear is a celebration of how stepping out and doing the things we love makes us feel happy…even if we are a little apprehensive at first!

  1. Ballet Kitty: Christmas Recital - It’s Christmas—and for Ballet Kitty, that means The Nutcracker! She’s going to perform the Sugar Plum Fairy, her favorite role from the ballet, at a real recital. Kitty’s so excited she can hardly wait. But when her very best friend wants to dance the same solo, suddenly the show isn’t fun anymore. This charming tale of friendship, ballet, and the thrill of being onstage will enchant little ballerinas everywhere.

Did you enjoy our children's book recommendations? Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!