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Ballet: Books For Kids

This list of the best kids books about ballet is sure to include a new favorite for the voracious young reader in your life! From Nutcracker to Ballet Kitty: Christmas Recital there's something here for everyone's tastes. Do you have a favorite book about ballet? Let us know!

Nutcracker book
#1
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
#2
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
#3
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.

Love Is a Tutu book
#4
Love Is a Tutu
Written by Amy Novesky and illustrated by Sara Gillingham
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

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.

Firebird book
#5
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. A Dance Like Starlight - 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.

  2. The Nutcracker - 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.

  3. The Illustrated Book of Ballet Stories - 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.

  4. 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.

The Sound Orchestra: The Nutcracker book
#10
The Sound Orchestra: The Nutcracker
Written and illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

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'.

The Story Orchestra, The Sleeping Beauty book
#11
The Story Orchestra, The Sleeping Beauty
Written by Katy Flint and illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

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.

Ballet Bunnies book
#12
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!

Ballet Kitty: Christmas Recital book
#13
Ballet Kitty: Christmas Recital
Written by Bernette Ford and illustrated by Sam Williams
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Rehearsing to perform the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in a recital of scenes from "The Nutcracker," an excited Ballet Kitty wonders about what to do when her best friend wants to dance the same solo.

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