I love to dance! There is something deeply satisfying about moving in time to the music and expressing the emotion of a song through movement.
These fifteen dance picture books celebrate the joy of dancing, and I hope they inspire you and your young readers to get up and dance. At the end of the post are dance-themed coloring pages, crafts, and YouTube dance tutorials. The dance video sections for ballet, hip-hop, and tap have lessons and/or dances for every age from toddlers through 5th graders. The miscellaneous dance video section contains individual dances or dance routines that are appropriate for specific age groups.
No matter what style of dance you love, free style it and explore a new form. Break it down, hip and hop, tap your feet, clap your hands, and let the books move you to express yourself through dance!
Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton has a rhyming text that is reminiscent of square-dance calling but with animal dancers and some animal movements.
Rap A Tap Tap: Here’s Bojangles – Think of That! by Leo and Diane Dillon tells about a man who is always tap dancing. It shows him dancing through the streets, past people, and on stage. At the end of the book, the man’s name, Bojangles, is revealed. The final page has an afterward with historical information about Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, who was one of, if not the greatest, tap dancers of all time.
Clap Your Hands by Lorinda Bryan Cauley has a rhyming text that tells the characters in the book to move different ways and make different types of faces and sounds. For added fun, you can have kids follow the directions along with the book’s characters.
Hip-Hop Lollipop by Susan Montanari is about a girl named Lollie who loves to dance hip-hop. Her parents tell her to stop dancing and go to bed, but Lollie keeps dancing. She dances with her sister; she dances while brushing her teeth; and when she’s finally in bed, Lollie dreams of dancing hip-hop.
I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison, illustrated by Frank Morrison is about having the rhythm. The book starts with the protagonist thinking the rhythm. Then she experiences the rhythm with her senses and starts to express it with different parts of her body. Finally, she is expressing the rhythm with her entire body and full-out dancing. The final line of the book (“I got the rhythm and you can too.”) encourages the reader to move and dance as well.
Kitchen Dance by Maurie J. Manning is about a young girl who hears noises coming from the kitchen and together with her brother discovers that their parents are dancing and singing while cleaning up from dinner. When their parents catch them spying in the doorway, they bring their children into the kitchen, and the entire family sings and dances together. This book is a beautiful reminder that even the most mundane tasks can be used to bond as a family.
How Do You Dance? by Thyra Heder is more or less the dance version of Green Eggs and Ham. The text is a conversation between an unseen voice and the protagonist, who claims that he doesn’t dance. As the unseen voice lists many of the ways that people dance, the illustrations show those movements, and the protagonist’s reaction to a lot of the dancing. The book ends with the protagonist finally revealing how he dances.
Zoogie Boogie Fever!: An Animal Dance Book by Sujean Rim reveals the secret as to why zoo animals always seem to be tired during zoo visiting hours: they spend the whole night dancing! A little red bird is the reader’s guide through a typical night of dancing at the zoo. Enjoy the book, but as the little bird reminds the reader, the dancing is a secret, so “Don’t. Tell. Anyone.”
Hilda Must Be Dancing? by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Suzanne Watts is about a hippopotamus named Hilda who loves to dance, but whose friends dislike her dancing because it is very loud and creates a mess in the jungle. Her friends suggest different hobbies for her to try instead of dancing, but Hilda doesn’t like any of them and keeps dancing. At last, they suggest a hobby that Hilda loves and is able to combine with dancing. The result is a quiet form of dance that does not create a mess, and that both Hilda and her friends can enjoy.
Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae, illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees is about a clumsy giraffe named Gerald. At the annual Jungle Dance, when Gerald steps onto the dance floor, the other animals make fun of him and tell him he can’t dance. When Gerald leaves, a cricket tells him that different people need different types of music and encourages Gerald to listen to the music in nature. Gerald does and finds that he can dance. He learns that everyone can dance if they find the right music.
Rupert Can Dance by Jules Feiffer is about a girl named Mandy and her cat, Rupert. Mandy loves to dance for Rupert during the day, and Rupert loves to dance at night when Mandy is asleep. One night, Mandy wakes up and sees Rupert dancing. She is excited and tries to teach Rupert some of the moves she knows, but Rupert doesn’t want to take lessons and loses all interest in dancing. Mandy comes up with a plan to get Rupert to dance again, and the two of them start dancing together.
Dino-Dancing by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Barry Gott is about a dance competition between different dinosaur dance groups. Many different styles of dance are featured, and while some acts go smoothly, others don’t go as planned.
Dance With Me by Penny Harrison, illustrated by Gwynneth Jones is about a music box ballerina who loves to dance with the little girl who comes and dances with her every day. But when the little girl gets older and stops dancing with the ballerina, the ballerina leaves her music box in search of a new dance partner. Everyone the ballerina invites to dance with her says no, and the ballerina returns to her music box. For years, the music box is packed away, but one day, a new little girl opens the lid and invites the ballerina to dance with her.
Diana Dances by Luciano Lozano is about a girl named Diana who does not do well in school and who will fail her grade if she does not learn her multiplication tables. When hiring a tutor doesn’t help, Diana’s mother takes her to the doctor, who recommends that Diana see a psychologist. The psychologist determines that Diana is a dancer and tells her mother to enroll her in a dance class. Diana loves dancing and discovers that it is easier for her to focus when she is moving. Through finding her creative outlet in dance, Diana also unlocks her ability to master her multiplication tables.
PAR-TAY!: Dance of the Veggies (And Their Friends) by Eloise Greenfield, illustrated by Don Tate is about a dance party that the vegetables in the refrigerator throw while their humans are out of the house. Different vegetables, fruits, and dance styles are featured. At the back of the book is a section that explains what a vegetable is and that lists the vegetables and fruits that participate in the dance party.
- Children Dancing
- Ballerina and Danseur
- Flamenco Dancer
- Hula Dancer
- Indian Dancers
- Jazz Dancers
- Mexican Dancers
- Tap Dancers
- Tap Shoes
- DIY Ribbon Wands (Preschool through 1st grade)
- Popsicle Stick Ballerinas (Preschool through Elementary depending on amount of adult help)
- Toilet Paper Roll Hula Dancer (Preschool through Elementary depending on amount of adult help)
- Flamenco Dancer Clothespin Doll (Elementary – Children in younger grades might need help)
- Snowflake Ballerinas (Elementary – Children in younger grades might need help)
- Toddler Ballet Class with Miss Sam (Toddler through Preschool)
- Toddler Dance Class with Miss Sam and Friends (Toddler through Preschool)
- Ballet for Kids with CJ and Friends (Preschool through 3rd grade)
- Beginning Ballet Practice and Routines for Children with Stardust Dance Academy (Preschool through 3rd grade)
- Ballet Class for Beginners with Miss Auti (4th grade and up)
- Learn Simple Ballet Moves with Miss Auti (4th grade and up)
- Ballet Positions of the Arms and Feet with Miss Auti (4th grade and up)
- How to Do Basic Ballet Turns with Miss Auti (4th grade and up)
- Beginner Ballet Jumps Petit Allegro with Miss Auti (4th grade and up)
- Ballet Tutorial for All Levels Choreography with Miss Auti (4th grade and up)
- Toddler Hip Hop Dance Class with Miss Sam and Friends (Toddler through Preschool)
- Easy Dance Routine with Mihran Kirakosian (Kindergarten and up)
- “Banana” by Conkarah featuring Shaggy with Mihran Kirakosian (Kindergarten and up)
- Hip Hop Dance Moves with Mihran Kirakosian (3rd grade and up)
- Toddler Tap Dance Class with Miss Sam and Mr. Jacob (Toddler through Preschool)
- Elementary Tap Dance Class for Kids! with Jenne Vermes (Kindergarten and up)
- Elementary Tap Dance Combination for Kids! with Jenne Vermes (Kindergarten and up)
- Tap Dance Basics – 5 Steps Every Beginner should Master with The Dance Prof (3rd grade and up – The teaching portion can probably be followed by children in 1st grade and up, but the end dance section requires either the ability to read or someone to read the instructions aloud.)
- How to Tap Dance with Tahlia Morgan (4th grade and up)
- Learn to Tap Dance – Beginner Exercises across the Floor with Jenne Vermes (4th grade and up)
*You can wear sneakers, dress shoes, or create your own penny tap shoes as an inexpensive way to try out this style of dance.
- Follow Along Robot Dance with Miss Sam (Toddler through Kindergarten)
- The Cha Cha Slide Dance with DJ Raphi (Preschool and up)
- YMCA Dance with DJ Raphi (1st grade and up)
- Beginner Salsa with CJ and Friends (1st through 5th grade)
- Kids Jazz Dance Tutorial with Miss Auti (3rd grade and up)
- Total Beginner Contemporary Dance Routine with Miss Auti (4th grade and up)
Happy reading and dancing!
For more themed book recommendations and activities, visit my post library.