We use picture books in our dance studio all the time. They are great tools for helping reinforce what we are teaching or for giving our students a reference point in which to relate. Of course, even without educational benefit, our little dancers simply love them. So, we've decided to share recommendations on our blog for children's books that are great for the dance classroom. From tried and true books we've turned the pages of countless times or newly discovered books — like the one this month, the Leap 'N Learn picture book picks will present a range of illustrated children's books and reasons why we like them.
Licensed Leap 'N Learn studios — you'll get ideas on how to incorporate the books into our education-based dance classes on our member site! Check it out now for a cornucopia free dance lesson that goes along with this book.
Our first Leap 'N Learn picture book pick is The Very Fairy Princess: Attitude of Gratitude by Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton and illustrated by Christine Davenier. We picked this book up at our local bookstore, partly attracted to the sparkles on the cover and also by the fact that Julie Andrews was one of the authors, yet somewhat skeptical. We were very happy when the storyline captured our attention and touched our hearts. This book mirrors things we do and ideas we want to instill in our dance studio, and we knew it would spark a lot of creative movement ideas. So we purchased a copy and couldn't wait to put it in use... and to tell you about it!
First off, this picture book is fitting for November as it ties into the themes of Thanksgiving. The book doesn't actually talk about the holiday, but about a gratitude day at school. It presents how to have an attitude of gratitude (and how that's sometimes hard to do) in such a kid-friendly way, and really, it's an important lesson to focus on any time of the year — it could even be neat to read this book to students in a month when we don't always have reminders to be thankful!
Aside from the attitude of gratitude, which we encourage throughout the dance studio from young students to student assistants and from teachers to parents, we loved how the book features a food drive. We host a food drive each November at our studio, and it's nice to have students make a text-to-self connection when we read that part of the story.
Another part we especially like is when the teacher creatively has the kids spell out "thank you" with their bodies. We could imagine our students using their bodies to make alphabet shapes like that, and how it could advance from simple letters for younger students up to more complex ones working with a partner for older students.
This book is great for early elementary students as they'd relate to the school setting, yet younger dancers will still find it delightful too. If you want to read this book in dance class, we'd recommend reading a section at a time and spreading it out throughout the month, as it's a little on the long side.
We hadn't met Geraldine before reading this book, yet this spunky girl bursting with personality made us want to check out all the other books in the Very Fairy Princess series. With books that tie into different times of the year, and even ballet, we imagine she could easily become a favorite character at our dance studio and yours!