Dancing is such a joyful form of self-expression and these picture books about dance reflect that. Whether it’s salsa, hip-hop, ballet, tribal and ethnic dances, or tap dancing, there’s a book for everyone. If you’re looking for dance books for older crowds, you can also check out my list of dance chapter books and middle grade books.
Best Picture Books About Dance
Here are the best picture about dance:
Published: September 29, 2020
From prima ballerina and New York Times bestselling author Misty Copeland comes the story of a young Misty, who discovers her love of dance through the ballet Coppélia–a story about a toymaker who devises a villainous plan to bring a doll to life.
Misty is so captivated by the tale and its heroine, Swanilda, she decides to audition for the role. But she’s never danced ballet before; in fact, this is the very first day of her very first dance class!
Though Misty is excited, she’s also nervous. But as she learns from her fellow bunheads, she makes wonderful friends who encourage her to do her very best. Misty’s nerves quickly fall away, and with a little teamwork, the bunheads put on a show to remember.
Featuring the stunning artwork of newcomer Setor Fiadzigbey, Bunheads is an inspiring tale for anyone looking for the courage to try something new.
Published: September 28, 2021
The moose plays the cello. The deer, violin. And it’s ONE-two-three, ONE-two-three, time to begin!
Destined to be a read-aloud favorite, Woodland Dance is a mystical, waltzing story from beloved author and illustrator Sandra Boynton, and a magical book to share with a magical child. Woodland animals heed the call of the fox’s bugle to join the woodland dance in a moonlit glade, dancing all night to the music of the Woodland Dance Trio. As the animals wander off to bed, the Trio plays one last piece to welcome the sun. A lovely, lyrical way to end, or start, the day.
Parker Shines On: Another Extraordinary Moment
Published: November 2, 2021
Parker Curry loves being a big sister. She gets to play dress-up with her little sister, Ava, and piano with her baby brother, Cash. And Parker loves to dance, twirling and leaping and spinning in joy.
But when a dancer joins her class and needs her help, Parker wonders if she has what it takes to be not only a real dancer, but a real friend.
Flora and the Flamingo
Published: February 5, 2013
In this innovative wordless picture book with interactive flaps, Flora and her graceful flamingo friend explore the trials and joys of friendship through an elaborate synchronized dance. With a twist, a turn, and even a flop, these unlikely friends learn at last how to dance together in perfect harmony. Full of humor and heart, this stunning performance (and splashy ending!) will have readers clapping for more of this fun flamingo story!
Stomp, Wiggle, Clap, and Dance: My First Book of Dance
Published: May 24, 2022
Shake, rattle, and roll with this fun dance book for toddlers
Toddlers are natural dancers and they love to move! Channel toddlers’ energy and help them develop balance, coordination, and control with the help of this engaging choice in dance books for toddlers. Moving along with the story will help stimulate little brains and provide a fun, creative way to build spatial awareness. Tons of colorful pictures offer toddlers visual clues for the movements, and rhyming words make reading aloud feel like music!
- Movement and motor skills—Little ones will begin by isolating individual body parts, like their hands, hips, arms, and toes.
- Dynamic dancing—Toddlers will harness their imagination to dance the prancing pony, flapping chicken, and twirling pinwheel.
- Keep the fun going—Explore a list of online dance videos and resources to help them keep moving and developing even when the book is finished.
Set the stage for an active childhood with this standout in toddler books!
I Will Dance
Published: May 26, 2020
Like many young girls, Eva longs to dance. But unlike many would-be dancers, Eva has cerebral palsy. She doesn’t know what dance looks like for someone who uses a wheelchair.
Then Eva learns of a place that has created a class for dancers of all abilities. Her first movements in the studio are tentative, but with the encouragement of her instructor and fellow students, Eva becomes more confident. Eva knows she’s found a place where she belongs. At last her dream of dancing has come true.
Published: September 22, 2020
Boys who love to dance are center stage in this encouraging, positive, rhyming picture book about guys who love to pirouette, jeté, and plié. Created in partnership with the American Ballet Theatre and with the input of their company’s male dancers, here is a book that shows ballet is for everyone.
Written by the acclaimed author of A Is for Audra: Broadway’s Leading Ladies from A to Z, this book subtly seeks to address the prejudice toward boys and ballet by showing the skill, hard work, strength, and smarts is takes to be a dancer. Fun and buoyant illustrations show boys of a variety of ages and ethnicities, making this the ideal book for any boy who loves dance. An afterword with photos and interviews with some of ABT’s male dancers completes this empowering and joyful picture book.
Dance With Oti: The Bird Jive
Published: May 27, 2021
There are lots of children in Oti’s dance class – and lots of feelings, too. Meet Fikile in her sparkly new shoes and Naira who is SUPER excited to get started! Gan is feeling a little worried about joining in whilst Martin can’t wait to show his parents what he can do! But in the middle of their dance routine, an unexpected visitor disrupts the class. Not to fear, Oti is here! Soon they are back on track, getting ready for the performance of their lives.
Princess Naomi Helps a Unicorn
Published: May 11, 2021
Unicorns and Horses and Snakes, oh my!
Interactive movement wrapped up in a charming story of sibling angst, anger management, compassion, and triumph. Grown-ups sit; kids move and practice dance fundamentals. Fed up with her annoying sister, Naomi storms out of the castle, only to discover a unicorn in need of help. With a sense of purpose, she quickly forgets her anger.
This is part of the Dance-It-Out! series, pandemic creations by an award-winning dance teacher and her Ballerina daughter. Ballerina Konora joins each page with instructions and photographs to help readers learn the dance moves.
How to Be a Real Ballerina
Published: October 29, 2020
There is a lot to learn about being a ballerina. It is hard work and can seem silly at times. But when you walk out on the stage, it’s like magic and fireworks and Christmas-tree lights in your tummy. From the team behind the best-selling All of the Factors of Why I Love Tractors comes a cheeky story about discovering the joys of dance.
Published: March 3, 2020
Tap, twirl, twist, spin! With musical, rhyming text, author Valerie Bolling shines a spotlight on dances from across the globe, while energetic art from Maine Diaz shows off all the moves and the diverse people who do them. From the cha cha of Cuba to the stepping of Ireland, kids will want to leap, dip, and zip along with the dances on the page!
Feel the Beat
Published: March 7, 2017
Marilyn Singer has crafted a vibrant collection of poems celebrating all forms of social dance from samba and salsa to tango and hip-hop. The rhythm of each poem mimics the beat of the dances’ steps. Together with Kristi Valiant’s dynamic illustrations, the poems create a window to all the ways dance enters our lives and exists throughout many cultures. This ingenious collection will inspire readers to get up and move!
The Electric Slide and Kai
Published: March 2, 2021
Kai is the only member of his family who can’t get the dance steps to the Electric Slide right. But Kai is determined to bust a move in this fun and sweet celebration of Black families.
Kai’s aunt is getting married, and everyone in the Donovan family is excited about the wedding … except Kai. The highlight of every Donovan occasion is dancing the electric slide–a groovy line dance with footwork that Kai can’t quite figure out. More than anything, he wants to prove that he can boogie with the rest of his family and earn a cool nickname from his granddad. Can Kai break through his nerves and break it down on the dance floor? Told with humor and heart by author Kelly J. Baptist and lively illustrations from debut picture book artist Darnell Johnson, The Electric Slide and Kai is a funky celebration with all the right moves!
Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Book mobile Ballerina
Published: January 28, 2020
Although there aren’t many ballet schools that will accept a girl like Sylvia in the 1950s, her local bookmobile provides another possibility. A librarian helps Sylvia find a book about ballet and the determined seven-year-old, with the help of her new books, starts teaching herself the basics of classical ballet.
Soon Sylvia learns how to fly—how to dance—and how to dare to dream.
Published: February 24, 2022
It’s John’s big day at school today—a performance for Sharing Gifts time. His bag is carefully packed and prepared, his classmates are ready, and the curtain is waiting to open. John is nervous, looking out at all the other children staring back at him. But he takes a big breath and begins. Mac Barnett’s compassionate text and Kate Berube’s understated and expressive art tell the story of a kid who finds the courage to show others his talent for dancing.
How Do You Dance?
Published: August 6, 2019
A playful picture book that urges readers to bop, bounce, and shake, from the award-winning author of Alfie and 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?, award-wining 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.
The Crab Ballet
Published: March 8, 2022
When the tide goes out, the curtain goes up on this clever tale of a sunset seaside show starring the dancing crab divas and their aquatic corps de ballet.
A fantastical rhyming text ushers readers through one sea-foam-dreamy act after another, from a gentle seahorse pas de deux to dramatic dolphin leaps beyond the spray.
Welcome. Enter. Sit right there.
upon our finest driftwood chair.
Enjoy our sunset seaside show—
our dancers are beyond compare.
Delicately illustrated in sea-washed watercolors by Cécile Metzger, The Crab Ballet is a two-act spectacular full of salt, sea, sand, and French ballet terms. Mais oui!
Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova
Published: August 18, 2015
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.
Dancing With Daddy
Published: December 1, 2021
Elsie can’t wait to go to her first father-daughter dance. She picked out the perfect dress and has been practicing swirling and swaying in her wheelchair. Elsie’s heart pirouettes as she prepares for her special night. With gestures, smiles, and words from a book filled with pictures, she shares her excitement with her family. But when a winter storm comes, she wonders if she’ll get the chance to spin and dance her way to a dream come true.
Published: February 12, 2013
Brontorina knows, deep in her heart, that she is meant to be a ballerina. James Howe’s lovable dinosaur is of a size outmatched only by her determination, and has talent outmatched only by her charm. Accompanied by Randy Cecil’s beguiling illustrations, here is an irresistible story that proves that no problem is too big when the heart and imagination know no bounds.
Published: January 17, 2017
Bunnies dance, play, sing, and make a new friend in this delightful picture book from the author of Follow Me!, which School Library Journal called “a winsome selection suitable for storytime.”
Nobody is watching.
Now’s the perfect chance.
Thus begins a whimsical celebration of movement, which will have children jumping out of their seats to dance, play, and sing with these cheerful bunnies—and one not-so-scary fox.
Everybunny is invited to join together in this joyous display of playful creativity.
Published: February 22, 2022
Devi knows that she’s a good dancer. In fact, she’s one of the best Bharatanatyam dancers at her dance school. So she’s very upset when she learns she’s lost the big dance competition. Her mom is a perfect dancer and Devi needs to be, too. Devi vows to practice her facial expressions and footwork until her dance is flawless, but no matter how much she practices, she keeps making mistakes. Come along with Devi as she learns that failure is an important part of learning and growing.
B is for Ballet: A Dance Alphabet
Published: September 22, 2020
A is for arabesque, B is for Baryshnikov, and C is for Coppélia in this beautifully illustrated, rhyming, alphabetic picture book, filled with ballet stars, dances, positions, and terminology. Written by the acclaimed author of A Is for Audra: Broadway’s Leading Ladies from A to Z, the dazzling, creative wordplay forms a graceful pas de deux with the stylish, swooping lines and rich color of the sumptuous illustrations. In partnership with the American Ballet Theatre, here is the perfect gift for any ballet fan, from children just starting ballet to adults who avidly follow this graceful artform.
Published: September 4, 2014
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.
Pete the Cat and the Cool Cat Boogie
Published: May 9, 2017
Put on your dancing shoes—Pete is ready to boogie!
Pete is learning a new dance—the Cool Cat Boogie! When he hears a groovy beat, he’s full of happy in his feet. But when Grumpy Toad tells him, “Pete, you dance all wrong!” Pete is determined to become a better dancer.
With the help of his friends and some wise words from Owl, Pete learns that he’s his grooviest when he’s being himself. Includes step-by-step dance moves so readers can dance along with Pete!
Published: July 9, 2013
Zombelina loves to dance. She moonwalks with mummies and boogies with bats. She spins like a specter and glides like a ghost and loves to dance for her family the most. When Zombelina enrolls in a ballet class for real girls, her dancing gives everyone the chills! But when her first recital brings on a case of stage fright, her zombie moans and ghoulish groans scare her audience away. Only her devoted family’s cheers, in their special spooky way, help Zombelina dance the ballet debut of her dreams.
A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina’s Dreams
Published: January 2, 2014
A story of little ballerinas with big dreams.
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.
Published: November 1, 2007
With a simple clap of hands, an itty-bitty beboppin’ baby gets his whole family singing and dancing. Sister’s hands snap. Granny sings scat. Uncle soft-shoes–and Baby keeps the groove. Things start to wind down when Mama and Daddy sing blues so sweet. Now a perfectly drowsy baby sleeps deep, deep, deep.
Lisa Wheeler and R. Gregory Christie pair up for a celebration of music, imagination, and big families–but they know that even a jazz baby needs to snooze. Oh yeah.
I’m a Ballerina!
Published: July 14, 2015
A little girl invites us into her ballet class, and later performs onstage (gulp!) in her first recital. Young readers will enjoy seeing what happens in a class, and young ballerinas will see themselves in this book.
Drumbeat in Our Feet
Published: October 30, 2006
“Informative passages and lyrical verse explore the history and rhythmic qualities of traditional African dance as performed long ago and today. Note about Harlem-based African dance troupe Batoto Yetu, photographs, and map in backmatter”–Provided by publisher.Informative passages and lyrical verse explore the history and rhythmic qualities of traditional African dance as performed long ago and today.
I Got the Rythm
Published: June 3, 2014
On a simple trip to the park, the joy of music overtakes a mother and daughter. The little girl hears a rhythm coming from the world around her- from butterflies, to street performers, to ice cream sellers everything is musical! She sniffs, snaps, and shakes her way into the heart of the beat, finally busting out in an impromptu dance, which all the kids join in on! Award-winning illustrator Frank Morrison and Connie Schofield-Morrison, capture the beat of the street, to create a rollicking read that will get any kid in the mood to boogie.
Brave Ballerina: The Story of Janet Collins
Published: January 8, 2019
Janet Collins wanted to be a ballerina in the 1930s and 40s, a time when racial segregation was widespread in the United States. Janet pursued dance with a passion, despite being rejected from discriminatory dance schools. When she was accepted into the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo as a teenager on the condition that she paint her skin white for performances, Janet refused. She continued to go after her dreams, never compromising her values along the way. From her early childhood lessons to the height of her success as the first African American prima ballerina in the Metropolitan Opera, Brave Ballerina is the story of a remarkable pioneer as told by Michelle Meadows, with fantastic illustrations from Ebony Glenn.
Dancing in the Wings
Published: September 1, 2000
Sassy worries that her too-large feet, too-long legs, and even her big mouth will keep her from her dream of becoming a star ballerina. So for now she’s just dancing in the wings, watching from behind the curtain, and hoping that one day it will be her turn to shimmer in the spotlight. When the director of an important dance festival comes to audition her class, Sassy’s first attempts to get his attention are, well, a little wobbly. But Sassy just knows, somehow, that this is her time to step out from those wings, and make her mark on the world. Actress/choreographer Debbie Allen and Kadir Nelson collaborated on Brothers of the Knight, about which School Library Journal raved, “the strutting high-stepping brothers are full of individuality, attitude, and movement.”
Published: October 6, 2008
A little girl wakes in the night to mysterious, inviting noises. She rouses her brother, and they sneak downstairs and peek into the kitchen. To their amazement and delight, their parents are dancing and singing—“?Como te quiero! Oh, how I love you!” —as they clean up and put food away. Mama and Papa discover the two kids and sweep them into the embrace of a family dance. Slowly, the song changes to a lullaby. . . the children close sleepy eyes. . . then Mama and Papa tuck them into bed again.
The story reads like poetry. The art moves from subdued tones to hot tropical colors and back again. And as you turn the pages, you can almost hear the music—changing from a pop ballad to a hot tango to a cozy lullaby. All in all, it’s a perfect bedtime book, with a satisfying hugs-and-kisses ending.
Published: February 16, 2011
Clickity! Clickity! Long green feet!
Who is dancing that clickity beat?
Lizard is dancing on clickity feet.
Clickity! Clickity! Happy feet!
Introducing a get-up-and-dance toddler book-so catchy and rhythmic, you’ll almost want to sing it.
Lindsey Craig’s rollicking text features funny sound words (Tippity! Creepity! Stompity! Thumpity!), dancing animals, a singsong beat, and a guessing element just easy enough for preschoolers to anticipate. Marc Brown’s artwork is bright, textured, and joyful, a collage of simple shapes for kids to find and name.
So grab a partner and tap your feet to this read-aloud picture-book treat.
This Is It
Published: February 6, 2018
Daria Peoples-Riley’s debut picture book is a celebration of individuality, self-expression, and dance. Fans of Misty Copeland’s Firebird and Matt de la Peña’s Last Stop on Market Street will want to read it over and over again.
When a young dancer is nervous about her upcoming auditions, her shadow springs to life and leads her on a joyous exploration of their city. Soon enough, the young girl finds confidence in her skills, her body, and her ability to shine.
With an energetic, rhythmic text that begs to be read aloud and striking, exuberant artwork, This Is It is a love story to originality and the simple joy of movement.
The future is in your footsteps.
Freedom is in your feet.
Put one foot in front of the other,
and greet your destiny.
Published: May 31, 2012
Author Lindsey Craig teams up with Arthur creator and bestselling artist Marc Brown in a toe-tapping farmyard dance-a-thon—perfect for toddler and preschooler read-alouds. As soon as the sun goes down, the animals are up! (“Sheep can’t sleep. Sheep can’t sleep. Sheep can’t sleep ’cause they got that beat!”) Before long, there’s a giant farmyard dance party, complete with funny animal sounds. But what happens when all the racket wakes up Farmer Sue? Here’s a colorful bedtime story that begs to be read aloud.
There they are: 30+ picture books about dance. Which of these have you read and loved? Which ones did I miss?
What do you think? Leave a comment