If you have a young girl in the house (or have a young niece or granddaughter), chances are good that she will have ballet aspirations at some point. There is something magical about the graceful soaring and big, poofy tutus so prominent in classical ballet. A plethora of “ballet” books are lurking in your local library; some are merely about young girls hoping to be ballerinas and wearing pink tutus. Others actually showcase the ballets themselves. Below are some books in the latter category; while all aren’t what I’d term “great literature,” they’re all fun diversions and are sure to entertain the aspiring ballerinas in your life. My daughter embarks on her third annual ballet camp this coming week (Snow White this time), so these books have been in hot circulation at our house in recent weeks.
Before I jump into my list, though, I’d like to offer a short commentary on Angelina Ballerina–one of the better known ballerina series out there in picture book land. I have nothing “against” these books, but there are better ballerina books out there. The TV series is not allowed in our house because we don’t like Angelina’s attitude. Her attitude isn’t as strong in the books, but still… worth noting. Be discerning, my friends!
Brontorina by James Howe (not a book about classical ballet, but a lovable, charming book about letting anyone dance ☺)
Ella Bella Ballerina books (Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, The Nutcracker, and Swan Lake) by James Mayhew. Admittedly my least favorite books of this lineup as far as text goes (a touch trite), still these are nice introductions to the “original” ballet stories of these familiar fairy tales and I like their illustrations.
Invitation to Ballet by Carolyn Vaughan and illustrated by Rachel Isadora (with paintings from Degas as well). An introduction to ballet forms, ballet class, and other aspects of ballet–one of many books illustrated by Rachel Isadora on the ballet. Look for her name in your local library’s catalog and you will find several titles–some especially for the younger set (preschool and early elementary).
“Rosie” books by Patricia Reilly Giff are cute chapter books about a girl named Rosie who is in a different ballet in each book; there is a nice amount of info about the actual ballet, but the story revolves around Rosie. Not “amazing” literature, but fun reads for little girls who are interested in ballet and newly independent readers.
Stories from the Classical Ballet by Belinda Hollyer. This book contains 8 short story versions of classical ballets (including Giselle, Firebird, Petroushka, and others). Stories are short enough to read aloud to elementary aged children. Stories also contain performance notes and are nicely illustrated. This book is a great option for girls who might be taking classical ballet. This one is a good fit for early elementary and up.
The Barefoot Book of Ballet Stories by Jane Yolen, Heidi Stemple, and illustrated by Rebecca Guay. Marvelous! Similar to the book just mentioned, these stories are longer and a bit more complex; introductory notes are also provided on the history of the ballet itself–who wrote it and when, etc. Worth checking out for sure. This one is a great fit for mid-upper elementary (and up).
Most books from my local library (one we own); Book covers from goodreads
What ballet books–especially about classical ballet–have you enjoyed with YOUR children?