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Performing Arts: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about performing arts?

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

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, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.

When it comes to children’s stories about performing arts, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Song and Dance Man to popular sellers like Ballet Shoes to some of our favorite hidden gems like Giraffes Can’t Dance.

We hope this list of kids books about performing arts 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.

Top 10 Books About Performing Arts

Audrey Hepburn book
#1
Audrey Hepburn
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara & illustrated by Amaia Arrazola
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

This board book version of Audrey Hepburn—an international bestseller from the beloved Little People, BIG DREAMS series—introduces the youngest dreamers to this iconic Hollywood movie star.

Audrey Hepburn grew up in Arnhem in the Netherlands. After living through the hardships of World War Two, she moved to study ballet in London. She went on to star in plays and films, eventually becoming one of the most iconic actresses of all time. Babies and toddlers will love to snuggle as you read to them the engaging story of this fascinating star, and will also enjoy exploring the stylish and quirky illustrations of this sturdy board book on their own.

Old MacDonald Had a Truck book
#2
Old MacDonald Had a Truck
Written by Steve Goetz & illustrated by Eda Kaban
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Old MacDonald had a farm E-I-E-I-O. And on that farm he had a…TRUCK?! With a DIG, DIG here and a SCOOP, SCOOP there, this board book edition of the wildly popular picture book introduces favorite machines—like the excavator, dump truck, bulldozer, and more—and will have the vehicle-obsessed of all ages reading and singing along.

Hello, Neighbor!: The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers book
#3
Hello, Neighbor!: The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers
Written by Matthew Cordell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The only authorized picture book biography of Mister Rogers, written and illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Matthew Cordell.

How was Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood created, and who was the man that started it all? This moving and informative picture book explores the history of this acclaimed television show and its inspiring creator in an accessible way for children.

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was groundbreaking in its own quiet, generous way. It introduced art, professions, food and even highlighted difficult subjects, like losing a loved one and divorce. This information was delivered both by live performers, like Fred Rogers himself and through a lively cast of puppets who lived in the land of make believe.

Backmatter includes a short biography of Fred Rogers as well as exclusively published archival photos provided by Fred Rogers Productions, and an essay from the author.

Available shortly after the release of the Mister Rogers’ biopic, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood starring Tom Hanks, this is the perfect picture book for all who appreciate the power and beauty of Fred’s mission.

Thoroughly illustrated with lively and captivating drawings, by Caldecott-winning author and illustrator Matthew Cordell, Hello, Neighbor! captures the spirit of the beloved television show.

A Junior Library Guild Selection!

The Clown of God book
#4
The Clown of God
Written & illustrated by Tomie dePaola
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This beautiful new edition of Tomie dePaola’s 1978 classic retelling of a French legend stars a little juggler whose unique talent leads him to what might be a Christmas miracle.

Little Giovanni is poor and homeless, but he can do something wonderful: he can juggle.

The people of Sorrento marvel at his talents, and before long, he becomes famous throughout Italy for his rainbow of colored balls that delight the nobility and townspeople alike. But as the years pass, Giovanni grows old, and his talents begin to fail him. No longer a celebrated performer, he is once again poor and homeless, begging for his food.

Until one Christmas Eve, when Giovanni picks up his rainbow of colored balls once more. And what happens next just might be a miracle…

Bijou, Bonbon and Beau book
#5
Bijou, Bonbon and Beau
Written by Joan Sweeney & illustrated by Leslie Wu
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Three little kittens create a sensation when they join dancers onstage of a Parisian theater known for its ballet and for the artist who paints there.

Pokko and the Drum book
#6
Pokko and the Drum
Written & illustrated by Matthew Forsythe
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From E.B. White Read Aloud honor artist Matthew Forsythe comes a picture book about a magical drum, an emerald forest, and the little frog who dares to make her own music.

The biggest mistake Pokko’s parents ever made was giving her the drum. When Pokko takes the drum deep into the forest it is so quiet, so very quiet that Pokko decides to play. And before she knows it she is joined by a band of animals —first the raccoon, then the rabbit, then the wolf—and soon the entire forest is following her. Will Pokko hear her father’s voice when he calls her home?

Pokko and the Drum is a story about art, persistence, and a family of frogs living in a mushroom.

What a Wonderful World book
#7
What a Wonderful World
Written by George David Weiss and Bob Thiele & illustrated by Tim Hopgood
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

First recorded in 1967 by Louis Armstrong, and with sales of over one million copies, “What a Wonderful World” has become a poignant message of hope for people everywhere. Sweet and positive in its message, with bright, beautiful art, this book is sure to be a hit. Perfect for sharing!

Giraffes Can't Dance book
#8
Giraffes Can't Dance
Written by Giles Andreae & illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Gerald the giraffe is too clumsy to dance with all the other animals at the Jungle Dance, until he finds the right music. On board pages.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms: The Dance of the Realms book
#9
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms: The Dance of the Realms
Written by Calliope Glass & illustrated by Misty Copeland and Marco Bucci
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

With breathtaking painterly illustrations, a deeply enchanting story, and a foreword written by celebrated dancer Misty Copeland, this picture book brings The Nutcracker and the Four Realms to life in a brand-new way. As the adventure from the film jumps off of the screen and onto the page, a new generation of readers and fans will be drawn in and enchanted by the holiday spirit, the beauty of dance, and the magic of storytelling.

Penguin Cha-Cha book
#10
Penguin Cha-Cha
Written & illustrated by Kristi Valiant
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Penguins are dancing in their cove, and a young girl is determined to join in the fun.

Table of Contents
Scroll to books about Performing Arts and...

Books About Performing Arts and Holidays

The Clown of God
Written & illustrated by Tomie dePaola
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This beautiful new edition of Tomie dePaola’s 1978 classic retelling of a French legend stars a little juggler whose unique talent leads him to what might be a Christmas miracle.

Little Giovanni is poor and homeless, but he can do something wonderful: he can juggle.

The people of Sorrento marvel at his talents, and before long, he becomes famous throughout Italy for his rainbow of colored balls that delight the nobility and townspeople alike. But as the years pass, Giovanni grows old, and his talents begin to fail him. No longer a celebrated performer, he is once again poor and homeless, begging for his food.

Until one Christmas Eve, when Giovanni picks up his rainbow of colored balls once more. And what happens next just might be a miracle…

Wombat Divine
Written by Mem Fox & illustrated by Kerry Argent
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Wombat loves everything about Christmas—especially the Nativity play. He’s wanted to be in it for as long as he can remember. At last he’s old enough to try out. But at the auditions, the first part goes to someone else. So does the next. And the next . . . Will there be a part left for Wombat?

The Nutcracker
Written by New York City Ballet & illustrated by Valeria Docampo
board book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Now available in a beautiful board book edition, 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 board 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 celebratory story. A must-have for every aspiring ballerina’s library and a holiday keepsake for every family’s bookshelf.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Shannon and the World's Tallest Leprechaun - Shannon is a stepdancer with a broken shoe. How can she ever win the Saint Patrick’s Day stepdancing contest? Enter Liam, the world’s tallest leprechaun. A leprechaun grants wishes, right?

  2. The Nutcracker: A BabyLit Dancing Primer - 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.

  3. You Can Do It, Noisy Nora! - Noisy Nora is learning to play the violin, but her family isn’t sure they can survive it! The lovable heroine of Noisy Nora returns in a new book that will charm parents and children alike. Nora is determined to play the violin, but her parents, sister Kate, and brother Jack are appalled by the terrible sounds that emerge during her practice sessions. Scrape and shriek, screech and squeak--everybody holds their ears. But when a special evening comes, Nora succeeds in playing the secret song she’s struggled hard to learn.
    You Can Do It, Noisy Nora! provides the perfect way to show young children the value of persevering when trying to master a new skill. Rosemary Wells’s strong-willed heroine is as feisty and unstoppable as ever in this humorous, heartwarming story.

  4. This Jazz Man - In this toe-tapping jazz tribute, the traditional “This Old Man” gets a swinging makeover, and some of the era’s best musicians take center stage. The tuneful text and vibrant illustrations bop, slide, and shimmy across the page as Satchmo plays one, Bojangles plays two . . . right on down the line to Charles Mingus, who plays nine, plucking strings that sound “divine.” Easy on the ear and the eye, this playful introduction to nine jazz giants will teach children to count—and will give them every reason to get up and dance! Includes a brief biography of each musician.

Want to see books about holidays?

Books About Performing Arts and Confidence

Giraffes Can't Dance
Written by Giles Andreae & illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Gerald the giraffe is too clumsy to dance with all the other animals at the Jungle Dance, until he finds the right music. On board pages.

Amazing Grace
Written by Mary Hoffman & illustrated by Caroline Binch
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Although a classmate says that she cannot play Peter Pan in the school play because she is black, Grace discovers that she can do anything she sets her mind to do.

Ballerino Nate
Written by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley & illustrated by R.W. Alley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

After seeing a ballet performance, Nate decides he wants to learn ballet but he has doubts when his brother Ben tells him that only girls can be ballerinas.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Major Eights 4: Starstruck - In book four of the Major Eights series, Becca shoots, but will she score a meet and greet with her favorite basketball player? When Becca finds out about her school’s free throw competition, she is ready to put her basketball skills to the test! And if she wins, she’ll get to meet her favorite basketball player! But after a series of bad practices, her nerves start to get the best of her. Can the Major Eights help Becca regain her confidence and meet her hero?

  2. Music for Mister Moon - After shy cello player Harriet Henry accidentally knocks the moon out of the sky, the moon becomes her friend, and Harriet gains the courage to share her music.

  3. Out of Step - Last season Mercy Anderson was one of the best dancers on her school’s dance team when they almost made it to the state championship, but a sudden growth spurt has made her awkward and unsure of her moves—a personal coach would help bring her back to competition level, but can she earn enough money dog walking to pay for the training?

  4. Dancing in the Wings - Sassy tries out for a summer dance festival in Washington, D.C., despite the other girls’ taunts that she is much too tall.

Want to see books about confidence?

Books About Performing Arts and Sounds Or Noises

Pokko and the Drum
Written & illustrated by Matthew Forsythe
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From E.B. White Read Aloud honor artist Matthew Forsythe comes a picture book about a magical drum, an emerald forest, and the little frog who dares to make her own music.

The biggest mistake Pokko’s parents ever made was giving her the drum. When Pokko takes the drum deep into the forest it is so quiet, so very quiet that Pokko decides to play. And before she knows it she is joined by a band of animals —first the raccoon, then the rabbit, then the wolf—and soon the entire forest is following her. Will Pokko hear her father’s voice when he calls her home?

Pokko and the Drum is a story about art, persistence, and a family of frogs living in a mushroom.

We Are Music
Written by Brandon Stosuy & illustrated by Nick Radford
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

From the author of Music Is… Brandon Stosuy comes a second pitch-perfect board book that’s a kid-friendly music history lesson—perfect for the little record collectors in your life. From music writer and The Creative Independent/Kickstarter Editor in Chief, Brandon Stosuy, comes a new board book called We Are Music that dives into the history of music. It starts with clapping, tapping, and drums, and from there the music moves in many different directions. From classical to blues to jazz to country to rock to punk to rap to hip hop, there is one important thread that weaves through every song that has ever been created: us.

Music Is . . .
Written by Brandon Stosuy & illustrated by Amy Martin
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-4

From music writer and The Creative Independent/Kickstarter Editor in Chief Brandon Stosuy, comes an entertaining new board book that introduces the many moods, styles, and senses of music to the youngest audiophiles—because music is for everyone, and music is for you. Featuring Amy Martin’s dynamic art style, Music Is… explains music through our eyes and ears so that the sense of hearing is transformed into a visual experience. A pitch-perfect board book that is sure to strike a chord with readers of all ages.

Honorable Mentions
  1. What's That Noise? Toot! Toot! - “What’s that noise? Lift the flap to find out! Perfect for guessing, prediction and memory skills—and simply joining in!”—Page 4 of cover.

  2. Lost and Found, What's that Sound? - “An excellent choice for any library.” —School Library Journal It’s a busy day at Rabbit’s Lost and Found. Poor Squirrel has lost his drum, Elephant has lost her piano, and Bat has lost his entire band! Will Rabbit find their lost instruments before show time? With lively rhyming text and colorful illustrations, this sturdy board book from brother-and-sister team Jonathan and Victoria Ying (Not Quite Black and White) is perfect for little hands.

  3. I Love Music: My First Sound Book - Readers of every age will be enchanted by this charming board book, which is distinguished by the exceptional quality of the musical sounds that bring every picture to life. I Love Music has a button on every spread, which triggers one of six captivating sounds that introduces a familiar instrument to the reader. An incredibly simple but utterly fascinating interactive book with sounds bound to enchant young readers and ignite an early love of music! A delightful and compelling book in the My First Sound Book series that everyone in the family will enjoy reading again and again.

  4. Poppy and Vivaldi - Go on a musical adventure with Poppy the dog and friends in Poppy and Vivaldi. Children and parents will love pressing buttons and hearing the instruments and sounds of Vivaldi on every page! Go on a musical adventure with the adorable dog, Poppy, and learn about Vivaldi as he listens to favorite sounds from the great composer with his friend Enzo. The two friends take an unforgettable trip to the Carnival of Venice, where they hear the sounds of the mandolin, cello, flute, and more. From The Four Seasons to Griselda, Poppy and Enzo explore the opera and take a ride on a gondola, listening to the sounds of Vivaldi and learning a little bit about this great composer at the same time. With 16 buttons to push and hear, kids will love listening to the sounds of Vivaldi and the different instruments as they follow along with the story. With colorful illustrations and a new sound to discover on each page, both kids and parents will be entertained and engaged for hours. Poppy and Vivaldi offers an opportunity to teach kids about classical music and the sounds of some of Vivaldi’s great works. Now that is truly unique!

Books About Performing Arts and 20th Century

Audrey Hepburn
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara & illustrated by Amaia Arrazola
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

This board book version of Audrey Hepburn—an international bestseller from the beloved Little People, BIG DREAMS series—introduces the youngest dreamers to this iconic Hollywood movie star.

Audrey Hepburn grew up in Arnhem in the Netherlands. After living through the hardships of World War Two, she moved to study ballet in London. She went on to star in plays and films, eventually becoming one of the most iconic actresses of all time. Babies and toddlers will love to snuggle as you read to them the engaging story of this fascinating star, and will also enjoy exploring the stylish and quirky illustrations of this sturdy board book on their own.

Hedy Lamarr's Double Life
Written by Laurie Wallmark & illustrated by Katy Wu
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

To her adoring public, Hedy Lamarr was a glamorous movie star. But in private, she was something more: a brilliant inventor. Now Laurie Wallmark and Katy Wu, who collaborated on Sterling’s critically acclaimed picture-book biography Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code, tell the inspiring story of how, during World War Two, Lamarr developed a groundbreaking communications system that still remains essential to the security of today’s technology.

You Are My Friend: The Story of Mister Rogers and His Neighborhood
Written by Aimee Reid & illustrated by Matt Phelan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A heartwarming picture book that celebrates the work of Mister Rogers and carries on his legacy of kindness

Mister Rogers is one of the most beloved television personalities, but before he was the man who brought us Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, he was just little Freddie Rogers. Though he was often sick and had trouble making friends as a child, his mom and grandfather encouraged him to ask for help and explore the world. With their support, he learned how to better say what he was feeling and see the beauty around him. As he grew up, he realized he could spread the message of compassion, equality, and kindness through television. You Are My Friend is a gentle homage to Fred Rogers and shows how his simple message still resonates with us today: “There’s no person in the world like you and I like you just the way you are.” The book includes a short biography of Fred’s life and a bibliography.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Jose! Born to Dance - José was a boy with a song in his heart and a dance in his step. Born in Mexico in 1908, he came into the world kicking like a steer, and grew up to love to draw, play the piano, and dream. José’s dreaming took him to faraway places. He dreamed of bullfighters and the sounds of the cancan dancers that he saw with his father. Dance lit a fire in José’s soul. With his heart to guide him, José left his family and went to New York to dance. He learned to flow and float and fly through space with steps like a Mexican breeze. When José danced, his spirit soared. From New York to lands afar, José Limón became known as the man who gave the world his own kind of dance. ¡OLÉ! ¡OLÉ! ¡OLÉ! Susanna Reich’s lyrical text and Raúl Colón’s shimmering artwork tell the story of a boy who was determined to make a difference in the world, and did. José! Born to Dance will inspire picture book readers to follow their hearts and live their dreams.

  2. Who Was Walt Disney? - Highlights the life and accomplishments of the famous cartoonist who created Mickey Mouse, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and Bambi and was the owner of Walt Disney Studios and Disneyland.

  3. The Orphan Band of Springdale - With the United States on the verge of World War II, eleven-year-old Gusta is sent from New York City to Maine, where she discovers small-town prejudices — and a huge family secret. It’s 1941, and tensions are rising in the United States as the Second World War rages in Europe. Eleven-year-old Gusta’s life, like the world around her, is about to change. Her father, a foreign-born labor organizer, has had to flee the country, and Gusta has been sent to live in an orphanage run by her grandmother. Nearsighted, snaggletoothed Gusta arrives in Springdale, Maine, lugging her one precious possession: a beloved old French horn, her sole memento of her father. But in a family that’s long on troubles and short on money, how can a girl hang on to something so valuable and yet so useless when Gusta’s mill-worker uncle needs surgery to fix his mangled hand, with no union to help him pay? Inspired by her mother’s fanciful stories, Gusta secretly hopes to find the coin-like “Wish” that her sea-captain grandfather supposedly left hidden somewhere. Meanwhile, even as Gusta gets to know the rambunctious orphans at the home, she feels like an outsider at her new school — and finds herself facing patriotism turned to prejudice, alien registration drives, and a family secret likely to turn the small town upside down.

Books About Performing Arts and Songs

What a Wonderful World
Written by George David Weiss and Bob Thiele & illustrated by Tim Hopgood
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

First recorded in 1967 by Louis Armstrong, and with sales of over one million copies, “What a Wonderful World” has become a poignant message of hope for people everywhere. Sweet and positive in its message, with bright, beautiful art, this book is sure to be a hit. Perfect for sharing!

Singing in the Rain
Written by & illustrated by Tim Hopgood
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

I’m singing in the rain, just singing in the rain, Oh, what a glorious feeling! Spring calls in this classic Broadway number, brought to life in a beautiful picture book—perfect for sharing! Jump in puddles, raise umbrellas, and dance with joy through the pages of this visual story. With colorful, springy scenes and the familiar lyrics, this is a beautiful, gift-worthy, feel-good read-aloud.

Elvis Presley's Love Me Tender
Written by Elvis Presley & illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

The king of rock-and-roll’s #1 hit song “Love Me Tender” is now an endearing picture book

Adapted from the unforgettable classic song, Elvis Presley’s Love MeTender is a heartwarming ode to the special bond between children and the adults who love and care for them–be they parents, grandparents, adoptive parents, aunts, uncles, or guardians. With its simple, timeless message, Elvis Presley’s Love Me Tender is destined to join Guess How Much I Love You as a baby shower staple. And the sweet, inclusive illustrations make it a book every family will treasure “all through the years, ’till the end of time.”

Honorable Mentions
  1. Goodnight Songs - “Baby sail the seven seas Safely in my arms When the waves go up and down You are safe from harm.” Now this New York Times bestselling collection of charming lullabies by Margaret Wise Brown (Goodnight Moon) comes in an adorable board edition—still gorgeously illustrated by 12 award-winning artists. The roster of celebrated names includes Carin Berger, whose The Little Yellow Leaf was a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book; Eric Puybaret, who brought the bestselling Puff, the Magic Dragon to life on the pa≥ Coretta Scott King Honor Award winner Sean Qualls; and Caldecott Honor medalist Melissa Sweet. It’s the perfect gift to wish children a sweet goodnight. The illustrators are: Jonathan Bean Carin Berger Sophie Blackall Linda Bleck Renata Liwska Christopher Silas Neal Zachariah OHora Eric Puybaret Sean Qualls Isabel Roxas Melissa Sweet * Dan Yaccarino

  2. Song and Dance Man - Illus. in full color. “In this affectionate story, three children follow their grandfather up to the attic, where he pulls out his old bowler hat, gold-tipped cane, and his tap shoes. Grandpa once danced on the vaudeville stage, and as he glides across the floor, the children can see what it was like to be a song and dance man. Gammell captures all the story’s inherent joie de vivre with color pencil renderings that leap off the pages. Bespectacled, enthusiastic Grandpa clearly exudes the message that you’re only as old as you feel, but the children respond—as will readers—to the nostalgia of the moment. Utterly original.”—(starred) Booklist.

  3. Lloyd Finds His Whalesong - Lloyd can’t sing. The rhythm of the whalesong guides the whales through danger and connects them to each other. But Lloyd is too quiet to join in. If he can’t sing, how can he be a part of the pod? Then one day he finds a magical, mysterious object with supersonic seaweed strings! This could be his chance to be part of the song. He practices and practices, nervously preparing to show the other whales. But before he can perform for them, a disruptive, noisy boat approaches and scatters the pod. Lloyd’s powerful new instrument may be the only thing that can reunite them―if he can find the courage to share his unique song. This inspiring and whimsical tale about celebrating your differences and finding your voice is complemented by bright and endearing illustrations that sparkle with quiet magic.

  4. Here and There -

Want to see books about songs?

Books About Performing Arts and Magic

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms: The Dance of the Realms
Written by Calliope Glass & illustrated by Misty Copeland and Marco Bucci
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

With breathtaking painterly illustrations, a deeply enchanting story, and a foreword written by celebrated dancer Misty Copeland, this picture book brings The Nutcracker and the Four Realms to life in a brand-new way. As the adventure from the film jumps off of the screen and onto the page, a new generation of readers and fans will be drawn in and enchanted by the holiday spirit, the beauty of dance, and the magic of storytelling.

Circus Mirandus
Written by Cassie Beasley
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn’t approve, Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real. And the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather. The only problem is, the Lightbender doesn’t want to keep his promise. And now it’s up to Micah to get the miracle he came for.

Rabbit Magic
Written & illustrated by Meg McLaren
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A distinctive palette and a large cast of adorable rabbits adorn a lively story told in very few words. When a magic trick goes awry, the magician M. Lapin becomes a sad rabbit while his rabbit assistant, Houdini, becomes the star of the show. After trying increasingly spectacular tricks, Houdini realizes that someone else wants and deserves the spotlight, and in his most amazing trick ever, he restores M. Lapin to his former self. Generosity and teamwork—and of course magic—take center stage in this delightful debut.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Yellow Submarine - A whole new generation will be climbing aboard this sunny, psychedelic storybook, while nostalgic Beatles fans of all ages will be clamoring for a ticket to ride. Once upon a time (or maybe twice), some 80,000 leagues beneath the sea, there lay a colorful land of song and laughter called Pepperland, where Sergeant Pepper’s Band was always playing your song — until the Blue Meanies burst on the scene and chased all the music and magic away. So began the classic 1968 film Yellow Submarine, inspired by a song and hailed as an avant-garde amalgam of pop art, Beatles music, and highly innovative animation. Now that film’s dazzling images — and its lighthearted, witty tale — is showcased in a glorious picture book sure to be savored by fans and readers of all ages.

  2. 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.

Want to see books about magic?

Books About Performing Arts and Imagination And Play

Dressing Up
Written & illustrated by Carol Thompson
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

We’re amazing! We can dress up, sing, dance and make music. There’s nobody quite like us! Enjoy the antics of this inclusive and diverse group of friends, as they celebrate the natural and boundless creativity to be found in every child.

If You Ever Want to Bring a Circus to the Library, Don't!
Written & illustrated by Elise Parsley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

The third book in the bestselling MAGNOLIA SAYS DON’T! series is another loud and cautionary tale of what not to do—this time, at the library! If you see a poster that says “You Can Do Anything at the Library!”, it is NOT giving you permission to put on a circus! But Magnolia doesn’t see any problem with setting up her own big top. She’s got a lot of gusto and one mean human cannonball routine. So what if her greatest show on Earth won’t fit between bookshelves? Elise Parsley’s boldly expressive illustrations perfectly complement this mostly-librarian-approved guide on how to be everything BUT quiet in the library!

The Bear and the Piano
Written by David Litchfield & illustrated by Frances Lincoln Ltd
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

One day, a bear cub finds something strange and wonderful in the forest. When he touches the keys, they make a horrible noise. Yet he is drawn back again and again. Eventually, he learns to play beautiful sounds, delighting his woodland friends. Then the bear is invited to share his sounds with new friends in the city. He longs to explore the world beyond his home, and to play bigger and better than before. But he knows that if he leaves, the other bears will be very sad . . . This gorgeously illustrated tale of following one’s dreams reminds us of the value of friendship, wherever we go.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Circus Girl - When a little girl plays dress up in her leotard and socks she becomes Circus Girl star of the show. Even her toys morph into her dreamscape of circus acts. At each page turn she jumps and tumbles, flies through the air, juggles, spins, balances and contorts. Vibrant and winsome, modern and timeless the illustrations and words convey a captured childhood moment with directness and simplicity.

  2. I Can Dance - Readers make dancers disco, tap, or pirouette just by wiggling their fingers. But wait! There’s even more fun. In an impressive gatefold finale, readers use two sets of hands to help the dancers perform an encore. With interactive holes on every page and a satisfying touch-and-feel cover, this charming board book is the perfect way to play and read together.

  3. Fun at the Fair - Toddlers will love exploring all the wonders of a day at the fair in this chunky, tactile board book. Little hands will thrill at flipping through the uniquely shaped, die-cut pages that overlap to reveal carousels, trains, rollercoasters and all the other fun-tastic sights and sounds of a bustling fairground. Delightfully petite, with light concept-based text and jubilant illustrations, Fun at the Fair is perfect for hands on play and bedtime reading alike. • The tactile, toylike quality makes Fun at the Fair an irresistible attention-grabber for toddlers. • Decorative and elegantly-designed, this book is ideal for both nursery display and hands-on learning. • Lovers of Scandinavian design will love Ingela Arrhenius’s beautiful, 1950s-inspired art. Fans of City Block, Main Street Magic, and Ingela Arrhenius’s Animals and Pop Up Things that Go! will love Fun at the Fair. • Board books for toddlers • Family read-aloud for ages 0–3 • Baby shower gift/home décor

  4. Goodnight, Little Dancer - In this soothing, gentle rhyming picture book, author Jennifer Adams bids sweet dreams to the youngest readers who identify as ballerinas by day and tender, sleepy children by night. With luminous art from illustrator Alea Marley, Goodnight, Little Dancer is sure to send little ones to sleep with twirling, dancing dreams. It’s time for bed now, little dancer.
    Time to tell the world goodnight.
    Let down your bun, shake out your hair.
    Breathe in, relax, and dim the light.

Books About Performing Arts and History

Josephine
Written by Patricia Hruby Powell & illustrated by Christian Robinson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

In exuberant verse and stirring pictures, Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson create an extraordinary portrait for young people of the passionate performer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker, the woman who worked her way from the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages in the world. Meticulously researched by both author and artist, Josephine’s powerful story of struggle and triumph is an inspiration and a spectacle, just like the legend herself.

Fred's Big Feelings: The Life and Legacy of Mister Rogers
Written by Laura Renauld & illustrated by Brigette Barrager
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

An inspiring picture book biography about the inimitable Fred Rogers, beloved creator and star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

Fred Rogers was a quiet boy with big feelings. Sometimes, he felt scared or lonely; at other times, he was playful and joyous. But when Fred’s feelings felt too big, his Grandfather McFeely knew exactly what to say to make him feel better: I like you just the way you are.

Fred grew up and created Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the television program that would go on to warm the hearts and homes of millions of Americans. But one day, the government threatened to cut funding for public television, including Fred’s show. So, Fred stepped off the set and into a hearing on Capitol Hill to make his feelings known.

In a portrait full of warmth and feeling, Laura Renauld and award-winning illustrator Brigette Barrager tell the story of Mister Rogers: a quiet, compassionate hero whose essential message—that it is okay to have and to express feelings—still resonates today.

This book is not associated with or authorized by Fred Rogers Productions.

A Dance Like Starlight
Written by Kristy Dempsey & 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.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Mama Africa!: How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with Her Song - Miriam Makeba, a Grammy Award–winning South African singer, rose to fame in the hearts of her people at the pinnacle of apartheid―a brutal system of segregation similar to American Jim Crow laws. Mama Africa, as they called her, raised her voice to help combat these injustices at jazz clubs in Johannesburg; in exile, at a rally beside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and before the United Nations. Set defiantly in the present tense, this biography offers readers an intimate view of Makeba’s fight for equality. Kathryn Erskine’s call-and-response style text and Charly Palmer’s bold illustrations come together in a raw, riveting duet of protest song and praise poem. A testament to how a single voice helped to shake up the world―and can continue to do so.

  2. A Giant Man from a Tiny Town - When Angus MacAskill was still just a boy, he began to grow…and grow…and…grow! Known far and wide as the Cape Breton Giant, Angus was loved by his neighbours as much for his beautiful singing voice as for his renowned strength. But as much as Angus loved his little town of St. Ann’s, Cape Breton, he decided to leave and seek fortune and adventure. With heartfelt text from critically acclaimed author Tom Ryan and meticulously researched and joyful illustrations from Christopher Hoyt (A is for Adventure), A Giant Man from a Tiny Town tells the story of a remarkable man who travelled the world performing for crowds, but never stopped longing to return to the place he loved the best: his Cape Breton home.

  3. Story of Rap - Lay down a baby beat and learn all about the history of rap! From Grandmaster Flash to Kendrick Lamar, rap has shaped generations and brought a voice to the voiceless. Bop along with the greats in this adorable baby book that introduces little ones to the rappers that started it all! Parental Advisory: May cause toddlers to develop excessive amounts of swagger.

  4. Happy Feet: The Savoy Ballroom Lindy Hoppers and Me - On March 12, 1926, the doors of the Savoy Ballroom swung open in Harlem. It was a night to remember, when blacks and whites, rich and poor, all came together to dance! This inspiring story of the world-famous dancing palace and home of the Lindy Hoppers is told from a father to his son, Happy Feet. It’s Happy Feet’s favorite story—after all, he was born on the very night the Savoy opened. And he hopes that one day he’ll make his own dancing debut at the legendary ballroom . . . because with a lot of hard work and a little Savoy magic, anything is possible. Includes an author’s note with biographies of Swing-Era dancers.

Want to see books about history?

Books About Performing Arts and Fairy Tale And Folklore Adaptations

The Sleeping Beauty
Written by New York City Ballet & 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.

Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears
Written by Beth Coulton and Corey Rosen Schwartz & illustrated by Nate Wragg
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A rockin’ twist on Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear know how to rock! But they need a new singer, so they audition everyone—the Three Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, and more. To their dismay, no one seems just right.

Could the perfect lead singer be the mysterious girl sleeping on Baby Bear’s keyboard?

This mash up of Goldilocks and the Three Bears and The Voice is a surefire storytime hit.

The Ant and the Grasshopper
Written by Rebecca Emberley & illustrated by Ed Emberley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

While hard at work on her chores, an ant hears the wonderful clickety click chirrup of music coming from the distance. Although she knows she should focus on the task at hand, she can’t help but explore the joyful noise!

Award-winning team Rebecca and Ed Emberley bring an entertaining new twist to the classic children’s. The bright, bold graphics seem to dance and leap, as a bunch of boogying bugs start a celebration of their own.

Honorable Mentions
  1. 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.

  2. The Sleeping Beauty - The story of The Sleeping Beauty spills over with fairies and princes, passion and despair, magnificence and splendour, and the ballet version of this classic tale is the most romantic and spectacular of all. Australian Ballet Creative Director David McAllister’s impressive 2015 production of The Sleeping Beauty, ornamented by internationally celebrated designer Gabriela Tylesova’s lavish costumes and sets, cast a spell of delight on its audiences, and was a sellout success. Now David McAllister and Gabriela Tylesova weave their magic again, transporting the enchantment of their 2015 production of The Sleeping Beauty to the pages of this book. David’s text and Gabriela’s illustrations recreate the world of this favourite ballet for readers to enjoy again and again. Based on the spectacular Australian Ballet production of The Sleeping Beauty.

Books About Performing Arts and Stage Fright

Chicken Lily
Written by Lori Mortensen & illustrated by Nina Victor Crittenden
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Chicken Lily may be a lot of things—a careful colorer, a patient puzzler, and a quiet hide-and-seeker (she never made a peep!)—but brave has never been one of them. That’s why, when a school-wide poetry jam is announced in class, Lily is terrified. Will she sound like a bird brain?

Although Lily’s friends Baabette and Pigsley try to encourage her, Lily feels like a rotten egg. Finally, Lily realizes that she must put her best claw forward and prove that even chickens aren’t chicken all the time.

Andy & Sandy and the Big Talent Show
Written by Tomie dePaola & illustrated by Jim Lewis and Tomie dePaola
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Andy and Sandy hit the stage in this fourth book of an easy-to-read picture book series about friendship—from Caldecott and Newbery Honoree Tomie dePaola and Emmy Award–winning writer for the Muppets Jim Lewis. Outgoing Sandy convinces shy Andy to do a dance at the big talent show. The only problem? Andy doesn’t know how to dance! Luckily, Sandy is a good teacher. But when showtime finally arrives, it’s Sandy who freezes up! A true friend through and through, Andy overcomes his shyness to save the performance. Let’s give a standing ovation to friendship! Written in simple words and short, declarative sentences, this book is perfect for little ones just learning to read on their own.

Pippa's Island 3: Kira Dreaming
Written by Belinda Murrell
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-11

Kira Cove Public School is hosting a talent quest. Cici, Meg, and Charlie couldn’t be more ex- cited to perform, but Pippa gets butter ies at the thought of singing on stage. After a disastrous audition, can Pippa nd a way to smash her stage fright before the VIP concert?

Honorable Mentions
  1. It's Showtime!: A Pepper and Frannie Story - Frannie loves to have an audience. Pepper prefers to perform when no one is around. Pepper and Frannie are best friends, and they both love a good show. When they decide to stage a performance themselves, Pepper is content to work behind the scenes as Frannie prepares an epic, extravagant spectacle: it will have lights, and action, and drama! She’s just forgetting one thing…to practice her song. When Frannie’s lack of preparation leaves her stuck in front of a crowd, can anything save her act? Luckily Pepper knows just how to help. The show must go on! Utterly charming, energetic illustrations and simple, funny text highlight the power of celebrating each other’s strengths and working as a team in this return of the lovable pair.

  2. The Piano Recital - It’s the day of Momo’s first piano recital. As she nervously waits for her turn to play, she tells herself, “I’ll be okay … I’ll be okay …” Then she hears a voice nearby, also saying, “I’ll be okay … I’ll be okay …” It’s a mouseling! And the little mouse is nervous about her first performance, too. The mouseling invites Momo through a small door backstage, where Momo is amazed to find a miniature theater filled with an audience of finely dressed mice there to watch singers, dancers and circus performers! When it’s the mouseling’s turn, Momo agrees to accompany her on piano. The mouse audience is so appreciative! But then, as she rises to take her bow, Momo is surprised to discover - it isn’t a mouse audience at all! Here’s another magical, dreamlike picture book from Akiko Miyakoshi, the multi-award-winning and internationally bestselling author-illustrator. The imaginative narrative is woven around the common childhood experience of anxiety, felt by performers but also by every child who faces a new life challenge. Momo serves as a wonderful example to children, using the power of her imagination to understand and work through her feelings. Even the youngest readers will be able to follow this story through the beautiful and fantastically detailed illustrations, which perfectly capture Momo’s emotions as she transitions from the real to the imagined and back again.

  3. Papa Bear's Page Fright - This is the story of a little girl named Goldilocks. Well, that’s what it’s supposed to be, but there’s a problem. When Papa Bear discovers he’s inside of a book and there are readers out there looking at him, he gets very nervous and forgets his lines. Poor Papa Bear . . . he has Page Fright! Can Mama Bear, Baby Bear, and Goldilocks help him find the courage to remember his lines and finish the story?

  4. Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace - “When musical prodigy, Elvis Ruby, completely freezes up on television, he is forced to hide out in the Pinelands of New Jersey and try to find his way back to the music once again with the help of a new friend”—

Books About Performing Arts and Musicians

Because
Written & illustrated by Mo Willems
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Mo Willems, a number one New York Times best-selling author and illustrator, composes a powerful symphony of chance, discovery, persistence, and magic in this moving tale of a young girl’s journey to center stage. Illustrator Amber Ren brings Willems’ music to life, conducting a stunning picture book debut.

Hosea Plays On
Written by Kathleen M. Blasi & illustrated by Shane W. Evans
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-9

This heartwarming picture book (based on a true story) depicts a day in the life of Hosea Taylor, a musician who—with his charm, talent, and generosity—brought joy to everyone he met.

Every day, Hosea takes the Number 42 bus into the city to play his shiny brass saxophone—and to hopefully earn enough money. Setting up in his favorite place, Hosea makes sweet music as people greet him with a smile, a little girl dances, and crowds surround him. A surprise ending reveals what the money is really for. Kathleen Blasi’s delightful text and Shane Evan’s colorful images capture the real-life closeness between the much-loved Hosea—who shared his passion for music and life with everyone—and his community.

An Author’s Note explains how Blasi learned about Hosea Taylor (1948-2016), and what compelled her to write his story.

Ben's Trumpet
Written & illustrated by Rachel Isadora
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The story of Ben is fiction, but it could be the story of more than one jazz musician who grew up in the twenties. Using the art-deco style of the period, Rachel Isadora not only captures the poignancy and yearning of a youthful talent, but in page after page of striking art seems to convey the very sound of music.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Piano - What do you do when a piano shows up in your yard? Take a cat-nap? Use it as a coffee table? What’s a band to do when one of its instruments goes missing? And what does a yellow sock have to do with anything? Join Filippa and friends in a whacky adventure when they wake up to find a piano in the front yard. Kids will love the bright and whimsical artwork in this book as they find out how the piano is returned to the band, new friends are found, and music is made.

  2. Violet's Music - From the days she banged her rattle in the crib, Violet has been looking for friends to share her love of music.

  3. Band - Sometimes kids just need a good tickle. Maybe your child is grumpy, or frustrated, or looking for a little extra attention. Well, we have the cure. Reach for Tickle Time!—and like magic, everyone’s bright and sunny and giggling again. Based on the wildly popular song from Boynton’s wildly popular Rhinoceros Tap CD, Tickle Time! is pure irrepressible Boynton, lively in tempo, nimble in rhyme, and filled with irresistible fuzzy cats that cavort from page to page. Plus a few birds, who aren’t the cavorting type. Here’s a book to turn to again and again, because it’s guaranteed to elicit giggles: If you’re feeling blue and you don’t know what to do there is nothing like a TICKLE TIME to make you feel like new. Whether you tickle high or tickle low, tickle fast or tickle slow, it’s the gitchy-gitchy-goo that makes everything worthwhile.

  4. The 5 O'Clock Band - In this companion to the Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Award-winning Trombone Shorty, join a scrappy young musician named Shorty on a tour of his beloved New Orleans. After letting his band down by missing rehearsal, Shorty has some serious questions about what it means to be a leader. He hits the streets of New Orleans to find some answers and soak up inspiration. Along the way he’ll meet street musicians, a favorite restaurant owner, and the famous Mardi Gras Indians. Each has some NOLA-bred wisdom to share with Shorty about being an artist, a leader, and a friend. In The 5 O’Clock Band, Troy Andrews has crafted another unforgettable love letter to New Orleans illustrated by the incomparable Bryan Collier.

Want to see books about musicians?

Books About Performing Arts and Singers

Ella Fitzgerald
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara & illustrated by Bàrbara Alca
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Meet Ella Fitzgerald, one of the most influential jazz singers of all time! New in the Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the inspirational life of the First Lady of Song, from her early singing days on the streets of Harlem, to her success as a jazz legend, with the message: ‘It’s not where you come from, but where you’re going that counts.’ With stylish and quirky illustrations and a facts and photo section at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!

The Legendary Miss Lena Horne
Written by Carole Boston Weatherford & illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Celebrate the life of Lena Horne, the pioneering African American actress and civil rights activist, with this inspiring and powerful picture book from award-winning author Carole Boston Weatherford.

You have to be taught to be second class; you’re not born that way.

Lena Horne was born into the freedom struggle, to a family of teachers and activists. Her mother dreamed of being an actress, so Lena followed in her footsteps as she chased small parts in vaudeville, living out of a suitcase until MGM offered Lena something more—the first ever studio contract for a black actress.

But the roles she was considered for were maids and mammies, stereotypes that Lena refused to play. Still, she never gave up. “Stormy Weather” became her theme song, and when she sang “This Little Light of Mine” at a civil rights rally, she found not only her voice, but her calling.

A Voice Named Aretha
Written & illustrated by Katheryn Russell-Brown
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A beautiful picture book biography about the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, and how she fought for equal rights throughout her life.

Aretha Louise Franklin grew up in a house of music. The shy daughter of a famous Detroit preacher and civil rights activist, Aretha’s big voice surprised those around her, and everyone agreed: her powerful singing would someday make her a star.

After relocating to New York City and signing a record deal, Aretha relentlessly pursued her dream of stardom. But it took many years of tireless touring and recording until her hit record “Respect” finally brought her the acclaim she deserved. Along the way, Aretha used her talents to fight for respect and equal rights along the way by refusing to perform for “whites only” audiences. With six decades of hits, countless memorable performances, and millions of lives touched, Aretha’s legacy of resilience and respect will inspire for generations to come.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Life of - La Vida De Ritchie - Born May 13, 1941, Ritchie Valens was a Mexican-American singer, songwriter, and guitarist. His musical journey at age 5 when his father encouraged him to take up guitar. In high school, he made his performing debut with the band The Silhouettes. At 17, Ritchie recorded his final record, which included classics like “Donna” and “La Bamba”. That record went on to sell over one million copies. To this day, Ritchie Valens’ music lives on in the hearts of many!

  2. The Life of / la Vida de Celia - Born in 1924 in Havana, Cuba, Celia Cruz has become one of the most popular singers in the world. Her career started at a young age, when she began began entering singing contests and winning pastelitos for her efforts! Celia and her husband later moved to New York, where they became friends with other performers such as Tito Puente. As her popularity soared, Celia became known as the ?Queen of Salsa’. To this day, her magnificent music continues to be sugar to our ears!

  3. Springtime Crime - Spring has sprung in River Heights! The annual Flower Sculpture contest is in a couple of days and everyone in town is working hard to finish their floral works of art. But Nancy, Bess, and George are most excited to see the world-famous pop singer, Miss LaLa, perform. The superstar grew up in River Heights and has agreed to kick off the contest with a song. And just when the girls thought life couldn’t get any better, they run into Miss LaLa herself! The singer is in a bit of a pickle though: She brought a giant hat made of white peonies for the show but she doesn’t have a refrigerator big enough to store it in. George thinks quickly and offers to put it in her mom’s catering refrigerator. But when the girls check on the hat the next morning they see something has gone terribly wrong. Half of the snowy white blooms are wilted and brown! They use their detective skills to rule out a blackout. And George can’t remember if she locked the door last night. Could someone have snuck into the kitchen and switched the fresh flowers with droopy ones? Nancy and her friends are determined to find out! Could it be Madame Withers, whose signature wilted rose perfume was rejected by Miss LaLa? Perhaps it was the famous flower artist Pierre, who was angry that Miss LaLa was the star of the show. Or it maybe it was Benjamin Bing, who ruined his flower sculpture with brown hair spray and had no more white peonies to replace them. It’s up to the Clue Crew—and you—to find out!

  4. Strange Fruit - The audience was completely silent the first time Billie Holiday performed a song called “”Strange Fruit.”” In the 1930s, Billie was known as a performer of jazz and blues music, but this song wasn’t either of those things. It was a song about injustice, and it would change her life forever. Discover how two outsiders—Billie Holiday, a young black woman raised in poverty, and Abel Meeropol, the son of Jewish immigrants—combined their talents to create a song that challenged racism and paved the way for the Civil Rights movement.””The audience was completely silent the first time Billie Holiday performed a song called “”Strange Fruit.”” In the 1930s, Billie was known as a performer of jazz and blues music, but this song wasn’t either of those things. It was a song about injustice, and it would change her life forever. Discover how two outsiders—Billie Holiday, a young black woman raised in poverty, and Abel Meeropol, the son of Jewish immigrants—combined their talents to create a song that challenged racism and paved the way for the Civil Rights movement.

Books About Performing Arts and Feelings And Emotions

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Written by Fred Rogers & illustrated by Luke Flowers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

For the first time ever, 75 beloved songs from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and The Children’s Corner are collected in this charmingly illustrated treasury, sure to be cherished by generations of children as well as the millions of adults who grew up with Mister Rogers. It’s you I like. It’s not the things you wear, It’s not the way you do your hair— But it’s you I like. From funny to sweet, silly to sincere, the lyrics of Mister Rogers explore such universal topics as feelings, new siblings, everyday life, imagination, and more. Through these songs—as well as endearing puppets and honest conversations—Mister Rogers instilled in his young viewers the values of kindness, self-awareness, and self-esteem. But most of all, he taught children that they are loved, just as they are. Perfect for bedtime, sing-along, or quiet time alone, this beautiful book of meaningful poetry is for every child—including the child inside of every one of us.

Hanazuki: Dazzle and Dance
Written by Stacy Davidowitz & illustrated by Victoria Ying
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Calling all Moonflowers! When Hanazuki and her friends hear about a talent competition on Celebrity Moon, they all want to win the grand prize. Each Moonflower pulls together a team to show off their best talents, and they practice, practice, practice! But Hanazuki’s team is cracking under the pressure. With a little help from Lavender Hemka, she’s going to show them that all they need is a little inspiration! Then Team Hanazuki will be ready to take on Celebrity Moon and the whole galaxy.

Son of Happy
Written by Cary Fagan & illustrated by Milan Pavlović
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

The boy in this story never wants to go to his friends’ birthday parties, because Happy the Clown is always there. And Happy is … his dad.

He wishes his dad had a regular job, like all the other kids’ parents. He didn’t mind his dad being a clown when he was a little kid, but now it’s just embarrassing. And even worse, since business is slow, his dad is putting a sign on the front lawn advertising his clown services!

But one night at dinner Dad announces that he’s going back to his old job of being a lawyer. “You were a lawyer?” the boy asks, incredulous.

Now his dad wears a suit and tie to work, the family can buy a new car, his mom can take piano lessons, and he can have a skateboard and cellphone.

But something feels different. The boy wonders if his dad misses being a clown. Or is he the one who misses Happy?

With bittersweet humor, Cary Fagan brings us a story about a boy’s growing consciousness and a father’s realization that he can be himself.

Honorable Mentions
  1. With a Little Help from My Friends - Celebrate friendship with this lyrical picture book that beautifully illustrates John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s world-renowned words from “With a Little Help from My Friends.” I get by with a little help from my friends… In this gorgeously illustrated picture book, the universally loved words to “With a Little Help from My Friends” come vividly to life, showing that sometimes, all you need is a little help from your friends!

  2. Wild Symphony - #1 New York Times bestselling author Dan Brown makes his picture book debut with this mindful, humorous musical, and uniquely entertaining book! Travel through the trees and across the seas with Maestro Mouse and his musical friends! Young readers will meet a big blue whale and speedy cheetahs, tiny beetles and graceful swans. Each has a special secret to share. Along the way, you might spot the surprises Maestro Mouse has left for you- a hiding buzzy bee, jumbled letters that spell out clues, and even a coded message to solve! Children and adults can enjoy this timeless picture book as a traditional read-along, or can choose to listen to original musical compositions as they read—one for each animal—with a free interactive smartphone app, which uses augmented reality to play the appropriate song for each page when a phone’s camera is held over it.

  3. Mirette on the High Wire - One day, a mysterious stranger arrives at a boardinghouse of the widow Gateau—a sad-faced stranger, who keeps to himself. When the widow’s daughter, Mirette, discovers him crossing the courtyard on air, she begs him to teach her how he does it. But Mirette doesn’t know that the stranger was once the Great Bellini—master wire-walker. Or that Bellini has been stopped by a terrible fear. And it is she who must teach him courage once again. Emily Arnold McCully’s sweeping watercolor paintings carry the reader over the rooftops of nineteenth-century Paris and into an elegant, beautiful world of acrobats, jugglers, mimes, actors, and one gallant, resourceful little girl.

  4. All You Need Is Love - Celebrate the love that surrounds us every day with this lyrical picture book that beautifully illustrates John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s world-renowned classic song “All You Need Is Love.” All you need is love, all you need is love All you need is love, love, love is all you need In this gorgeously illustrated picture book, the universally loved song “All You Need Is Love” comes vividly to life, showing that if we follow the music we will see there is indeed love all around us.

Books About Performing Arts and 21st Century

Hello, Neighbor!: The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers
Written by Matthew Cordell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The only authorized picture book biography of Mister Rogers, written and illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Matthew Cordell.

How was Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood created, and who was the man that started it all? This moving and informative picture book explores the history of this acclaimed television show and its inspiring creator in an accessible way for children.

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was groundbreaking in its own quiet, generous way. It introduced art, professions, food and even highlighted difficult subjects, like losing a loved one and divorce. This information was delivered both by live performers, like Fred Rogers himself and through a lively cast of puppets who lived in the land of make believe.

Backmatter includes a short biography of Fred Rogers as well as exclusively published archival photos provided by Fred Rogers Productions, and an essay from the author.

Available shortly after the release of the Mister Rogers’ biopic, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood starring Tom Hanks, this is the perfect picture book for all who appreciate the power and beauty of Fred’s mission.

Thoroughly illustrated with lively and captivating drawings, by Caldecott-winning author and illustrator Matthew Cordell, Hello, Neighbor! captures the spirit of the beloved television show.

A Junior Library Guild Selection!

Dolly Parton: My First Dolly Parton
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

This board book version of _Dolly Parton_—from the critically acclaimed, multimillion-copy best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series—introduces the youngest dreamers to the incredible life of this singer-songwriter and businesswoman.

Little Dolly grew up in Tennessee in a family “as poor as dirt.” She started performing at an early age, singing on local radio and television. After graduating high school, she moved to Nashville to pursue her singing dreams. Her managers wanted her to sing pop, but she followed her heart to sing and write country songs. Her heart was right—Dolly became a musical superstar, but she never forgot where she came from. She now uses her wealth to give back to people, children, and animals in need. Babies and toddlers will love to snuggle as you read to them the engaging story of this fascinating musician and will also enjoy exploring the stylish and quirky illustrations of this sturdy board book on their own.

Little People, BIG DREAMS is a best-selling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream.

This empowering series offers inspiring messages to children of all ages, in a range of formats. The board books are told in simple sentences, perfect for reading aloud to babies and toddlers. The hardcover versions present expanded stories for beginning readers. Boxed gift sets allow you to collect a selection of the books by theme. Paper dolls, learning cards, matching games, and other fun learning tools provide even more ways to make the lives of these role models accessible to children.

Inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world with Little People, BIG DREAMS!

David Attenborough
Written by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara & illustrated by Mikyo Noh
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

In this book from the critically acclaimed, multimillion-copy best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series,discover the life of David Attenborough, the inspiring broadcaster and conservationist.

Little David grew up in Leicester on the campus of a university, where his father was a professor. As a child, he spent hours in the science library, collating his own specimens and creating a mini animal museum. When he was old enough to go to university, he studied science and zoology—but what he wanted most of all was to be close to the animals he was studying. So, he started working in television, visiting animals in their natural habitats, and telling the world the untold stories of these animals. This moving book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the broadcaster’s life.

Little People, BIG DREAMS is a best-selling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream.

This empowering series offers inspiring messages to children of all ages, in a range of formats. The board books are told in simple sentences, perfect for reading aloud to babies and toddlers. The hardcover versions present expanded stories for beginning readers. Boxed gift sets allow you to collect a selection of the books by theme. Paper dolls, learning cards, matching games, and other fun learning tools provide even more ways to make the lives of these role models accessible to children.

Inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world with Little People, BIG DREAMS!

Honorable Mentions
  1. David Bowie: My First David Bowie - This board book version of _David Bowie_—from the critically acclaimed, multimillion-copy best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series—introduces the youngest dreamers to the incredible life of this starman who dazzled audiences with his music. As a child, young David had a head full of songs and ideas. He was inspired by the pop and mod scenes in Britain to pick up the saxophone. After earning his stripes in some of the coolest bands in London, David splashed onto the solo scene. His songwriting talent and musical skill made him one of rock and roll’s all-time greatest artists. Babies and toddlers will love to snuggle as you read to them the engaging story of this fascinating star, and will also enjoy exploring the stylish and quirky illustrations of this sturdy board book on their own. Little People, BIG DREAMS is a best-selling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream. This empowering series offers inspiring messages to children of all ages, in a range of formats. The board books are told in simple sentences, perfect for reading aloud to babies and toddlers. The hardcover versions present expanded stories for beginning readers. Boxed gift sets allow you to collect a selection of the books by theme. Paper dolls, learning cards, matching games, and other fun learning tools provide even more ways to make the lives of these role models accessible to children. Inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world with Little People, BIG DREAMS!

  2. My Family Divided - Guerrero, the star of “Orange Is the New Black” and “Jane the Virgin, “ presents her personal story in this middle-grade memoir about her parents’ deportation and the nightmarish struggles of undocumented immigrants and their American children. Photos.

Books About Performing Arts and Cats

Bijou, Bonbon and Beau
Written by Joan Sweeney & illustrated by Leslie Wu
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Three little kittens create a sensation when they join dancers onstage of a Parisian theater known for its ballet and for the artist who paints there.

The Music of Life
Written & illustrated by Louis Thomas
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Full of joy and discovery, Louis Thomas’ The Music of Life is a simple, melodious picture book about finding big inspiration and beauty in the smallest of details.

At night when everyone else is asleep, one artist sits awake—pencil in hand, stuck. Lenny is a composer, but this evening, no music floats from his head.

Then as night breaks into dawn, Lenny’s cat, Pipo, begins lapping milk. Lick lick lick. Birds yawn awake, singing in the trees. Tweet tweet! A bike bell tings on the street below. Suddenly, Lenny notices a rhythm to the world around him. He pulls on his coat and walks through the city to write down every sound he can find. Lenny listens to a gardener, a jogger, a dogwalker, and more neighborhood characters.

Finally, the morning’s sounds culminate in a sun-dappled symphony that Lenny conducts in the center of the park.

Kat Keeps The Beat
Written & illustrated by Greg Foley
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Join Kat, the musical kitten, and Bird, her kind-hearted pal, as they learn to count and keep the beat in this brand-new board book that stars the same characters from Greg Foley’s adorable picture book Kat Writes a Song!

Kat, Bird, and the rest of her friends are sure to have readers clapping, counting, and cheering for more as they learn about rhythm and how to count in this inventive board book that shows the power of song.

A great read-aloud for parents and little ones to share, this sweet story proves that music has the power to bring friends together.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Kat Writes a Song - Kat writes a song to make things better on a gray and rainy day. After perfecting her magic song, she sings it out loud, and to her surprise, the rainy clouds go away! Kat is so pleased that she goes around her neighborhood singing her magic song. Will her song be able to help her friends too?

  2. Kat Needs a Nap - Join Kat, the musical kitten, and Bird, her kind-hearted pal, as they sing a lullaby in this sweet, musical board book that stars the same characters from Greg Foley’s adorable picture book Kat Writes a Song! When Kat’s friends can’t sleep, Kat and Bird write a new song that may—or may not—send them off to dreamland in this magical, inventive book that shows the power of music. A great naptime or bedtime read-aloud for parents and little ones who are ready for a song that ends with a yawn.

  3. Mr. Putter & Tabby Toot the Horn - Mr. Putter’s neighbor, Mrs. Teaberry, decides that they should join a band, but finding the right one isn’t as easy as it sounds—for them or their pets.

Want to see books about cats?

Books About Performing Arts and School

Replay
Written by Sharon Creech
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Leo’s papa stood in the doorway, gazing down at him. “Leo, you make gold from pebbles,” and the way he said it, Leo could tell that this was a good thing. He may have been given a bit part in the school play … but Leo dreams he is the biggest star on Broadway. Sure, his big, noisy family makes him feel like a sardine squashed in a tin … but in his fantasy he gets all the attention he wants. Yes, his papa seems sad and distracted … but Leo imagines him as a boy, tap-dancing and singing with delight. That’s why they call Leo “fog boy.” He’s always dreaming, always replaying things in his brain. He fantasizes about who he is in order to discover who he will become. As an actor in the school play, he is poised and ready for the curtain to open. But in the play that is his life, Leo is eager to discover what part will be his.

The Major Eights 3: The Goo Disaster!
Written by Melody Reed & illustrated by Emilie Pepin
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

In book three of the Major Eights series, Maggie has to ace her science fair project or she won’t be able to perform with the band at the annual arts banquet! Maggie is thrilled to perform with the Major Eights at the school’s annual arts fund-raising banquet. But when Maggie’s science grade starts slipping (her one difficult subject), her mom refuses to let her play at the banquet unless she can get an A on her science fair project. Can Maggie and the girls find a way to make sure Maggie aces the project?

Second Banana
Written by Blair Thornburgh & illustrated by Kate Berube
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A girl is disappointed with her “rotten” role in the school play—but the show must go on
 
The kids in Mrs. Millet’s class are putting on their annual nutrition pageant. Every kid plays a food. Every kid gets a line. It is a big deal. But this year, there aren’t quite enough parts for everybody. So the class is cast: Fish, Cheese, Broccoli, Blueberry, Banana, and . . . Second Banana. Second Banana feels rotten. She wants to be the ONLY banana!
In this deliciously original school story, Blair Thornburgh and Kate Berube recognize the dreadful disappointment that a casting list can cause—as well as the power of friendship, creative thinking, and a good attitude to turn a rotten situation into one that’s quite ap-peel-ing. Showtime!

Honorable Mentions
  1. Martin McLean, Middle School Queen - Seventh-grader Martin McLean has trouble expressing himself except at Mathletes competitions and now, as a female impersonator but his first-ever drag show falls on the same night as an important Mathletes tournament.

  2. The Incredible Adventures of Mary Jane Mosquito - Timely, Fun, Challenging and Wise! Tomson Highway’s musical cabaret, The Incredible Adventures of Mary Jane Mosquito, couldn’t be more vividly presented unless you were sitting in the middle seat of the front row watching the Cree playwright, performer, musician and poet himself. The story of a wingless little mosquito from Manitoba has all the whimsy and wise humour any audience could ask for. The ageless theme of a misfit, who finds her voice through song and who learns to make friends by communicating directly with her audience, is a timely treat for anyone who has felt like an outsider, dealt with bullying, moved to a new place, or was different from the rest of the pack. The entire script is here, complete with song lyrics, stage directions, Cree vocabulary, and challenging tongue twisters to delight all ages. A perfect book for drama students, teachers, and theatre enthusiasts, this beautiful full-colour volume serves as an interactive read-aloud for the young, or a great way to introduce students to the joys of staging a musical production.

  3. Funny Kid #2: Stand Up - Big Nate meets Timmy Failure in Funny Kid #2: Stand Up, the second book in an uproarious new middle grade series by Matt Stanton, Australia’s bestselling children’s book author. Max may not be the strongest, or the smartest, or the handsomest kid in his class—but he may well be the funniest! Except when Max’s classroom joke lands flat, he suddenly becomes the Un-Funny Kid! The only way to make everyone forget Max’s comedy catastrophe is for him to win the town talent quest with his very own stand-up comedy routine. Max is ready to bring comedy gold to his audition, but thanks to a heckling clown, Max can’t even remember his first joke! With the help of his best friend Hugo and their feathered pet, Duck, Max thinks he has everything he needs to come up the greatest stand-up comedy routine of all time—but will it be enough? Max will need all the advice he can get to prove that he is the kid who can make everyone laugh! Matt Stanton brings his veteran children’s book chops to this hilarious series, perfect for early middle grade readers looking for side-splitting laughs!

  4. Star-Crossed - Twelve-year-old Mattie wrestles with her crush on Gemma as they participate in their school production of Romeo and Juliet in what School Library Journal calls “a fine choice for middle school libraries in need of an accessible LGBTQ stories.” Twelve-year-old Mattie is thrilled when she learns the eighth grade play will be Romeo and Juliet. In particular, she can’t wait to share the stage with Gemma Braithwaite, who has been cast as Juliet. Gemma is brilliant, pretty—and British!—and Mattie starts to see her as more than just a friend. But Mattie has also had an on/off crush on her classmate Elijah since, well, forever. Is it possible to have a crush on both boys AND girls? If that wasn’t enough to deal with, things offstage are beginning to resemble their own Shakespearean drama: the cast is fighting, and the boy playing Romeo may not be up to the challenge of the role. And due to a last-minute emergency, Mattie is asked to step up and take over the leading role—opposite Gemma’s Juliet—just as Mattie’s secret crush starts to become not-so-secret in her group of friends. In this funny, sweet, and clever look at the complicated nature of middle school romance, Mattie learns how to become a lead player in her own life.

Want to see books about school?

Books About Performing Arts and New Experiences

Maisy Goes to a Show
Written & illustrated by Lucy Cousins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Are you ready for the big show? Maisy and her friends show little ones what it’s like to attend their first live performance. Today, Maisy and her friends are off to the theater to see a show starring Flora Fantastica! First they line up to show their tickets. After the usher helps them all find their seats, the lights go down, and Maisy and her friends take in a feast for the senses: dramatic flashing lights, colorful costumes, amazing songs, and lots of exciting characters. From the rise of the curtain through intermission (and snacks) to a standing ovation at the end, Maisy takes her fans on a trip to the theater that makes a new experience familiar and fun.

Your First Day of Circus School
Written by Tara Lazar & illustrated by Melissa Crowton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

A clever, comical re-imagining of the classic “first day of school” story, with a circus twist!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages! It’s the most amazing day on earth: the first day of school! It can be a daunting prospect, but don’t worry - your big brother can show you the ropes. Join a nervous boy and his enthusiastic older brother as they navigate the highs and lows of a first day at school . . . except this school is a big top, and the teacher is named Miss Stupendous, and the cafeteria can be a zoo, literally! It turns out, school isn’t so scary when you can let off steam during recess (on a steam train) and walk on stilts to all of your classes. With a bit of help from family and some new friends, you’ll make it to the top of the class in no time! This charming take on school readiness will delight new school-goers and take a bit of the fear out of those first-day jitters.

Andy & Sandy And The Big Talent Show
Written & illustrated by Tomie dePaola
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Andy and Sandy hit the stage in this fourth book of an easy-to-read picture book series about friendship—from Caldecott and Newbery Honoree Tomie dePaola and Emmy Award–winning writer for the Muppets Jim Lewis.

Outgoing Sandy convinces shy Andy to do a dance at the big talent show. The only problem? Andy doesn’t know how to dance! Luckily, Sandy is a good teacher. But when showtime finally arrives, it’s Sandy who freezes up! A true friend through and through, Andy overcomes his shyness to save the performance. Let’s give a standing ovation to friendship!

Written in simple words and short, declarative sentences, this book is perfect for little ones just learning to read on their own.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Audition - Bunheads meets The Kicks in this first novel in a brand-new middle grade trilogy from New York Times bestselling author, dancer, model, and actress Maddie Ziegler! Twelve-year-old Harper has been dancing practically since she could walk. She loves her dance studio and team, and just won her first ever top junior solo in a regional competition. But right before the school year starts, Harper’s parents drop a bombshell—the family has to relocate from their cozy town in Connecticut to sunny Florida for their jobs. That means goodbye to her friends, dance team, trips to see shows in NYC—and did she mention dance team? When she arrives at her new dance school and new team, it feels like everyone has better feet, quicker turns and faster taps than Harper. And it doesn’t help that a group of girls, who nicknamed themselves The Bunheads, wonder how the heck she made the team if she can’t even do a simple turn sequence in front of the class. Thankfully, Harper befriends Lily, a fellow newbie in the studio who is just as eager to make her mark and find a friendly face. With a big competition coming up for the dance team, Harper is determined to show everyone—especially those Bunheads—what she’s made of. And when a very badly timed injury threatens all of the work they have done, The Bunheads, Lily, and Harper must learn to truly work together to give them their best shot at the top spot!

  2. Pilar's Worries - Pilar loves to dance. She pliés while brushing her teeth. She leaps when hurrying to ballet class. But when tryouts for her favorite ballet are held, Pilar is anxious. Auditioning makes her whole body feel scared. But by using some of the coping techniques she’s learned and focusing on her love for ballet, she is able to persevere. This gentle story is a great tool for children dealing with anxiety.

Books About Performing Arts and Girls And Women

I Dreamed I was a Ballerina
Written by Anna Pavlova & 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.

Lights! Camera! Alice!
Written by Mara Rockliff & illustrated by Simona Ciraolo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Meet Alice Guy-Blaché. She made movies—some of the very first movies, and some of the most exciting! Blow up a pirate ship? Why not? Crawl into a tiger’s cage? Of course! Leap off a bridge onto a real speeding train? It will be easy! Driven by her passion for storytelling, Alice saw a potential for film that others had not seen before, allowing her to develop new narratives, new camera angles, new techniques, and to surprise her audiences again and again. With daring and vision, Alice Guy-Blaché introduced the world to a thrilling frontier of imagination and adventure, and became one of filmmaking’s first and greatest innovators. Mara Rockliff tells the story of a girl who grew up loving stories and became an acclaimed storyteller and an inspiration in her own right.

Fancy Nancy: Budding Ballerina
Written by Jane O'Connor & illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

What starts out as dancing school just for Dad quickly turns into a ballet class for Nancy’s whole family. Fans of Fancy Nancy will delight in learning to plié, pirouette, and jeté with Nancy as she demonstrates all of the positions she’s learned in ballet class. From the New York Times bestselling team Jane O’Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser, who have entertained millions of girls and boys with the Fancy Nancy series.

Honorable Mentions
  1. I Am Lucille Ball - A first-person presentation of the life and career of comedian and studio head Lucille Ball.

  2. Boo Crew (Nancy Drew Clue Book) - Help Nancy and her friends find the truth behind a haunted theater in the tenth book in the interactive Nancy Drew Clue Book mystery series. The hit TV show Twinkle Little Stars is coming to River Heights to audition contestants for their upcoming Halloween show. They’ll choose talented kids from all over the country to compete for prizes. Nancy, Bess, and George are dressing up as witches and are planning to create a special potion onstage for the judges. The recently renovated Heights Theatre has opened its doors for the auditions. The old theatre had been abandoned for fifty years but is now restored to its original beauty. But on the day of the auditions, everything seems to go wrong; the girls’ cauldron over bubbles, a werewolf mask makes its owner sneeze, spider webs fall on the dancers. That’s when the clue crew learns the Heights Theatre is rumored to be haunted—people say ghosts are the reason it stayed empty for so long. But Nancy knows better than to believe in ghosts. She’s sure that the culprit is of the human variety. Then Bess sees monsters dancing around a piano playing on its own—the keys moving but no is playing it. Could the rumors be true? Is the Heights Theatre really haunted? It’s up to the clue crew—and you—to find out!

Books About Performing Arts and The Circus

King of the Tightrope: When the Great Blondin Ruled Niagara
Written by Donna Janell Bowman & illustrated by Adam Gustavson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

In 1859, Jean-Francois Gravelet, known as The Great Blondin, walked across the Niagara River on a tightrope. What kind of man would do something like that? And more importantly, how do you become that man?

At the age of four, Jean-Francois Gravelet walked across his first balance beam. Later, he took to the tightrope like a spider to its web, and with his family troupe, he climbed toward stardom. Though his feats became more and more marvelous, he grew bored. That is, until he visited Niagara Falls and imagined doing something that no one else had ever accomplished. To cross the raging river, The Great Blondin needed an engineering process, determination, and a belief that what he could imagine, he could accomplish. In 1859, with all of the work completed, Blondin would step out onto the most dangerous tightrope walk he’d ever faced.

Author Donna Janell Bowman’s trademark in-depth research gives readers a clear and exciting look into the accomplishments of The Great Blondin, as well as the hard work, determination, and meticulous mathematic and scientific planning it took to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Adam Gustavson’s detailed illustrations turn this book into an experience that will inspire readers of all ages.

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers
Written & illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A lyrical evocation of Philippe Petit’s 1974 tightrope walk between the World Trade Center towers.

Fearless Mirabelle and Meg
Written by Katie Haworth & illustrated by Nila Aye
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

A fun and exuberant picture book about twin sisters with very different talents.

Mirabelle and Meg Moffat are twins, and their mom and dad are famous circus acrobats. Mirabelle is fearless. She promises to be the most topsy-turvy, upside-down acrobat of all. Unlike Meg, who is afraid of heights. But with a grand new show featuring Mirabelle about to open, it soon becomes clear that there is at least one thing that does scare Mirabelle. Could it be time for Meg’s talent to shine?

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Farmer and the Clown (Ala Notable Children's Books. Younger Readers (Awards)) - Whimsical and touching images tell the story of an unexpected friendship and the revelations it inspires in this moving, wordless picture book from two-time Caldecott Honor medalist Marla Frazee. A baby clown is separated from his family when he accidentally bounces off their circus train and lands in a lonely farmer’s vast, empty field. The farmer reluctantly rescues the little clown, and over the course of one day together, the two of them make some surprising discoveries about themselves—and about life! Sweet, funny, and moving, this wordless picture book from a master of the form and the creator of The Boss Baby speaks volumes and will delight story lovers of all ages.

  2. Baby Clown - An award-winning author and a Caldecott Medalist introduce an adorable new circus star — who won’t stop wailing! When Frieda and Boffo Clown have a baby, everyone in the circus is over the moon. But there is just one problem: Baby Clown won’t stop crying! Frieda and Boffo try everything: putting on their silliest faces, driving him around in their tiny car. They even try taking off his red nose and big shoes. But that just makes Baby Clown cry more. Can Frieda and Boffo turn his little clown frown upside down in time for the sold-out show? Kara LaReau deftly juggles wit and warmth in this hilarious nod to parental persistence, while Matthew Cordell’s big-top-bright illustrations bring Baby Clown and his circus family to humorously frazzled life. Older siblings, in particular, will step right up to this applause-worthy picture book, joining Baby Clown in many a heartfelt “WAAAAH!”

  3. Cannonball Coralie and the Lion - Coralie longs to join the circus but the Man in the Big Hat says her tricks just aren’t good enough. With the help of her new friend, Lion, Coralie realizes she’s perfect just the way she is. A heart-warming story about the friendship between a girl and a lion, this fun, quirky picture book celebrates daring to be different and the importance of standing up for yourself.

Books About Performing Arts and Multicultural

Olive Becomes Famous (and Hopes She Can Become Un-Famous)
Written by Megan Atwood & illustrated by Gareth Llewhellin and Kim Barnes
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

Olive is going to be in a commercial! The only problem is that Olive can’t land the gymnastics stunt for it, and she is afraid to tell the truth. Meanwhile, her cross-country pen pal, Molly, has started taken acting classes and is super jealous of Olive, but doesn’t want to tell her. Molly goes on a mission to get on a commercial, too, with her new friend from class. Follow the secrets and threatened friendship through reading the jealous emails and alternating first-person points of view to discover Olive’s plan to make everything right.

Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe
Written by Vivian Kirkfield & illustrated by Alleanna Harris
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe. On the outside, you couldn’t find two girls who looked more different. But on the inside, they were alike—full of hopes and dreams and plans of what might be.

Ella Fitzgerald’s velvety tones and shube-doobie-doos captivated audiences. Jazz greats like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington couldn’t wait to share the stage with her, but still, Ella could not book a performance at one of the biggest clubs in town—one she knew would give her career its biggest break yet.

Marilyn Monroe dazzled on the silver screen with her baby blue eyes and breathy boo-boo-be-doos. But when she asked for better scripts, a choice in who she worked with, and a higher salary, studio bosses refused.

Two women whose voices weren’t being heard. Two women chasing after their dreams and each helping the other to achieve them. This is the inspiring, true story of two incredibly talented women who came together to help each other shine like the stars that they are.

Drum City
Written by Thea Guidone & illustrated by Vanessa Newton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

A young boy begins banging on pots and pans in his front yard, enticing other children to join him, and before long the entire city is feeling the beat.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Major Eights 2: Scarlet's Big Break - In book 2 of the Major Eights series, Scarlet goes solo and risks alienating her bandmates. After their Battle of the Bands competition, the girls are famous! Everyone knows who they are now—even strangers recognize them! But the attention starts to go to Scarlet’s head, and she decides to sign up for the school’s talent show as a solo artist. But what about the Major Eights? Should she really leave the band and her friends behind? With each book told from a different girl’s perspective, this series is all about girl power, diversity, and marching to the beat of your own drum!

  2. The Major Eights 5: The New Bandmate - In book 5 of the Major Eights series, Jasmine breaks her arm just when the Major Eights have a big show coming up. Can they find a way to save the show? Just before a big show, Jasmine breaks her arm. The Major Eights don’t want to let down their audience, so they ask Leslie to sub. But Jasmine is worried the band will like Leslie better. Is this the end of the Major Eights as they know it?

  3. How Do You Dance? - A playful picture book that urges readers to bop, bounce, and shake from the author of Fraidyzoo There are so many ways to dance! You can jiggle or wiggle or stomp. You can bop or bounce or go completely nuts. You can dance at the market or the bus stop, with your fingers or your face. You can dance because you’re happy or even because you’re sad. But, what’s the best way to dance? Exactly how you want to! In How Do You Dance?, author-illustrator Thyra Heder explores dance in all of its creativity, humor, and—most of all—joy, in a picture-book celebration of personal expression that will inspire young and old readers alike to get up and get moving.

  4. Dance with the Animals - This delightful mix and match title features animal characters from around the world. Wolf, Lemur, Panda, and friends have gathered together for a night of twirling, twisting, clapping, clicking and tapping. Ella Baileys beautiful illustrations can be mixed and matched to create cute characters in fun outfits, while the text suggests mix and match actions that young readers can do to join in with the animals fun. The split page board format is attractive and robust, perfect for little hands to play with over and over again. Children aged two and up can enjoy the charming illustrations independently, and used with a parent or guardian, the fun join in actions add a further interactive dimension, promoting coordination and cognitive development.

Books About Performing Arts and Self-esteem And Self-reliance

Firebird
Written by Misty Copeland & 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.

Musical Mac
Written & illustrated by Brendan Kearney
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Mac the millipede loves to make music. He dreams of playing in a talent show with a band, but wherever he auditions, everyone says NO. No one wants him . . . until Mac comes up with an ingenious one-millipede solution to his problem! Brendan Kearney’s funny picture book will inspire kids who like to march to the beat of their own drum.

Extraordinary Jane
Written & illustrated by Hannah Harrison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Jane the dog doesn’t have a unique talent in the circus like the rest of her family, until the ringmaster discovers what is truly special about her

Honorable Mentions
  1. Gracie Laroo on the Big Screen - Gracie the pig has a part in a movie with with Tilda Swinetune, the champion swim racer and movie star, but she is upset when she realizes she is just a stunt double—however a small change in the script makes her able to do that and also fulfill her dream with a part of her own.

  2. Eliza Bing Is (Not) a Star - How will Eliza make it through the sixth grade? Her ADHD tends to complicate things. . . . Eliza Bing stuck with taekwondo and earned her yellow belt even though her family expected her to quit. She’s tough enough to break boards with her bare hands! Next up: middle school, and hopefully a best friend. The school play turns out to be the perfect opportunity to befriend confident, stage-obsessed Annie. But can their friendship survive the spotlight? The joys and sorrows of middle school come to life in this funny and heartfelt sequel to Eliza Bing Is (NOT) a Big, Fat Quitter, recipient of the Christopher Award and four child-voted state award nominations.

Books About Performing Arts and Culture

Swan
Written by Laurel Snyder & illustrated by Julie Morstad
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

“Spare, poetic words sit as lightly as snowflakes.”—Wall Street Journal “An enchanting glimpse of a dancer whose name has come to be synonymous with her most famous role.”—School Library Journal, starred review 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. Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova is a heartbreakingly beautiful picture book biography perfect for aspiring ballerinas of all ages.

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin
Written by Chieri Uegaki & illustrated by Qin Leng
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Hana has signed up to play the violin at the talent show, even though sheÍs only had three lessons. Her brothers predict disaster. But Hana practices and practices, inspired by her grandfather, or Ojiichan, who played the violin every day when she visited him in Japan. As Hana takes the stage, doubt is all she can hear, until she recalls her grandfatherÍs words of encouragement, and shows the audience how beautiful music can take many forms.

Fascinating: The Life of Leonard Nimoy
Written by Richard Michelson & illustrated by Edel Rodriguez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-9

A moving biography of the late Leonard Nimoy, the iconic Spock from Star Trek, whose story exemplifies the American experience and the power of pursuing your dreams.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Ballet Shoes - In the tradition of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Little Princess come Noel Streatfeild’s tales of triumph. In this story, three orphan girls vow to make a name for themselves and find their own special talents. With hard work, fame just may be in the stars! Originally published in 1937.

  2. The Mozart Girl - Nannerl Mozart’s twelfth-birthday wish is to become a famous composer. She’s already considered a brilliant musician, touring eighteenth-century Europe with her little brother, Wolfgang, and playing for queens and kings in the great courts. But Papa doesn’t take her seriously as a composer, Mama usually has a list of chores for her, and Wolfi always manages to steal everybody’s attention. Can Nannerl defy everyone’s expectations and capture some of the spotlight that shines on her brilliant younger brother?

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