Best Kids Books About Ballet

13 Kids Books About Ballet

Updated Jan. 18, 2019
The Cranky Ballerina book
#1
The Cranky Ballerina
Written and illustrated by Elise Gravel
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Ada hates everything about ballet class, yet she still has to go! Arabesques? Grotesque! And then one Saturday, Ada pliés right out the door and into the hallway, smacking into someone who thinks her ungraceful moves are great! In the tradition of Kevin Henkes’s Lilly books and Russell and Lillian Hoban’s Frances classics, Ada is a plucky little kid with her own way of thinking. Through Ada’s stubbornness and emotional honesty, author/illustrator Elise Gravel shows her understanding of how kids feel and why. She shows us that anger is normal and feeling our emotions leads to growth! This short, funny, energetic book—full of word bubbles that enhance visual literacy and Gravel’s signature vibrant illustrations—is a great choice for both reading aloud and reading independently for emergent readers. Children who love ballet—and definitely those who don’t—will delight in this clever, subversive tale about a kid who has to do what she doesn’t like in order to discover what she loves.

Ballet Kitty: Christmas Recital book
#2
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.

Swan Lake book
#3
Swan Lake
Written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

With flash, the lake was based in a shimmering light, and before him stood the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. “I am the Swan Queen,” she said. “I am the swan that you tried to kill.” A prince's love for a swan queen breaks an evil spell in this fairy tale adaptation of the beloved ballet written by Tchaikovsky Swan Lake is perhaps the best-loved ballet of all time. Hans Christian Andersen Medal-winner Lisbeth Zwerger brings her singular vision to a glorious picture-book adaptation of the haunting story of an enchanted swan princess. She has based her version on Tchaikovsky’s original 1877 ballet, which had a happy ending, unlike the later, better-known, 1893 version. Her illustrations, luminous, lyrical, filled with grace and beauty, evoke the brilliance of the ballet and the universal appeal of this beloved fairy tale.

The Nutcracker book
#4
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.

The Sound Orchestra: The Nutcracker book
#5
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
#6
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.

Firebird book
#7
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.

Nutcracker book
#8
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.

A Dance Like Starlight book
#9
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.

Gracie Laroo in the Snow book
#10
Gracie Laroo in the Snow
Written by Marsha Qualey and illustrated by Kristyna Litten
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-7

Gracie LaRoo's synchronized swimming team trades out water for snow when they meet up with a top ski ballet team. They'll train the skiers, and the skiers will train them-all in front of TV cameras! But Gracie's afraid of heights. Can she overcome her fear in time to shine, or is this trip going downhill-fast?

Ballet Bunnies book
#11
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!

Dear Ballerina book
#12
Dear Ballerina
Written and illustrated by Monica Wellington
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

A dream comes true for a girl who loves tutus, pointe shoes, and dancing on tiptoe! The girl in this story loves to stretch, to pose, to point her toes, to swirl and twirl and leap! She practices new steps every day. All her efforts are rewarded when one special day, she gets to dance in a performance with her favorite ballerina. "Dear Ballerina," the girl writes, "I dream of being a dancer just like you." The pictures in the book take the reader behind the scenes of the ballet to a practice room, a costume room, and the wings of the stage. At last, the curtain goes up, and the girl and her idol dance. Their tutus swirl together! "Dancing makes me happy!" the little ballerina says. A touching story about dance, passion, effort, and intergenerational mentorship. The five ballet positions are illustrated, and behind-the-scene secrets are revealed. Back matter provides interesting information about point shoes, tutus, and the contents of a ballet bag. The author-illustrator is the mother of a little girl who has grown up to be a professional ballerina with New York City Ballet. This book was inspired by letters Lydia Wellington wrote to dancers she admired, as well as letters she has received from young fans. Every detail in this book is filled with joy and love and is authentic and accurate. A glittery cover makes Dear Ballerina a perfect gift for ballet recitals. A great choice for fans of Angelina Ballerina.

Dance With Me book
#13
Dance With Me
Written by Penny Harrison and illustrated by Gwynneth Jones
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

A ballerina in a music box loves nothing more than to dance. Her days are filled with joy as she dances for her little girl owner, and also pops out of her box for some extra fun and excitement when the little girl isn’t looking! But when her owner grows up and isn’t a little girl anymore, who will dance with the ballerina then? Dance with Me is a gorgeous story about treasured possessions and the memories they hold.

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