Dance is a natural expression of human emotion. We dance when we are excited or happy. Watching a cheerful dance also has a positive effect on our feeling. On the other hand, there is a genre of dances which express sorrow or despair.
Dance has been developed into many forms all over the world. Some popular contemporary dances include Ballet, Jazz, Tap, and Hip-hop.
A lot of young children show dance-like motion when they hear cheerful music. My daughter also started dancing when she was very young. The following video was taken when she was 16 months old. As soon as she heard a K-pop on the street, she started dancing.
In this article, quite a few books on dance are reviewed, and five of them are introduced. These books present valuable messages, such as embracing differences, recognizing his or her own talent, and considering others. I hope our children enjoy reading these books and understand the essential messages and lessons of these books.
Giraffes Can’t Dance
(Author: Giles Andreae, Illustrator: Guy Parker-Rees, Age range: 4~ years)
Gerald was a tall giraffe living in Africa. He was tall, but he did not seem to fit for either running or dancing.
One day, there was an annual ritual called Jungle Dance. All the animals gathered, and many animals such as warthogs, rhinos, lions, and chimps danced gracefully. When Gerald walked to the floor to dance, other animals made fun of Gerald because he was not good at dance. Gerald became humiliated, and he left for home.
While going home, he met a cricket who advised Gerald, “When you are different, you just need a different song”. Then, Gerald listened to the natural sounds such as swaying grass, the trees, and the breeze.
When the cricket played his violin, Gerald danced along beautifully. Other animals gathered and saw Gerald’s dance. They were so impressed.
Giraffes Can’t Dance was authored by Giles Andreae (1966~). The book has been a best-seller since its publication in 1999, and more than 10 million copies were sold worldwide.
In the story, Gerald realized his talent after being bullied by other animals. When he was depressed, the cricket acted like a sage and encouraged Gerald to have self-esteem.
The essence of this book is shown in two sentences: “Sometimes when you’re different, you just need a different song” and “We all can dance when we find music that we love.”
Notice that Gerald could not dance popular types such as Waltz, Rock n’ roll, Tango, and Scottish reel. But after realizing what he loved, he danced gracefully, and other animals admired him. It is a message that anyone has talent in some areas, although he or she seems inferior to others in most fields. It is an essential message for our children, encouraging our children to have “I can do it!” attitude. The book will be helpful for children to build their self-esteem.
This book’s illustration is colorful enough to attract our children’s attention. This book is highly recommended.
Fancy Nancy: Budding Ballerina
(Author: Jane O’Connor, Illustrator: Robin Preiss Glasser, Age range: 4~8 years)
Nancy loves ballet, and she went to ballet class every week. When her dad picked her up from the class, she showed him some ballet movies.
At home, she tried to teach him more ballet positions, although he was not confident of doing it. Then, Nancy advised him that he needed to have a positive attitude and taught him from a simple motion by having a class. Later, her mom joined the class.
When her friend Bree visited the house, Nance and Bree performed in front of her parents. They showed Plié, jeté, and pirouettes.
Fancy Nancy: Budding Ballerina is written by Jane O’Connor (1947~) and illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser (1956~). The book is part of Fancy Nancy Series. Fancy Nancy series has grown to more than 70 titles, and nearly 30 million copies have been sold worldwide.
Fancy Nancy series can be characterized as a rich vocabulary and colorful illustration. Several French words are introduced in the series.
In the book, Nancy taught her dad how to dance. It is an inspiring story for young children. Nancy’s comment on her dad, “you have to have a positive attitude“, is a great lesson for our children.
A child who has learned ballet will be excited to find the ballet motions such as arabesque, pirouette, plié, and jeté. Flamboyant illustrations are another recommendable feature of this book.
Dance is for everyone
(Author & Illustrator: Andrea Zuill, Age range: 3~ years)
One day, Mrs. Iraina and her students went to a classroom, and there was a 450-pound alligator who wanted to join the dance class. Mrs. Iraina and her students reluctantly accepted the alligator, and the alligator followed the lesson well enough. After a while, everyone got used to the alligator and called her Tanya because she looked like the great prima ballerina Madame Tanya Prefontaine.
Because the alligator was too strong and her tail was swinging all around while she was dancing, a new dance program called the legend of the Swamp Queen was created where Tanya had the leading role.
During the recital, the Legend of the Swamp Queen was played, and the audience loved the performance, thinking that the alligator was played by a human dancer.
After the performance, Tanya did not show up to the class anymore. Then, an invitation letter arrived from Tanya. When Mrs. Iraina and her students visited there, Tanya played what she has learned with her animal friends.
Dance is for everyone is written and illustrated by Andrea Zuill. The book shows a lot of funny graphics. The scene where Tanya was posing while four other students look scared is especially funny, as shown below.
The book shows a rather non-conventional combination: ballet and alligator. There are two main messages as shown below.
1) It is necessary to embrace friends who are different from us.
2) With efforts, more suitable solutions can be found.
(Author & Illustrator: Patricia Lee Gauch, Age range: 4~ years)
Little Tanya loved to dance, and she imitated the ballet moves and positions of her old sister, Elise, such as Plié, Pirouette, and Arabesque. She loved to dance to the music of Swan Lake. Still, she was too young to go to the dance lesson with her sister.
One day, Elissa did a recital, and Tanya watched Elise’s performance with her extended family members. After the performance, the family members came to Tanya’s home. When Swan Lake was played, Tanya woke up and danced to the music after wearing a tutu and scarf. Everyone was impressed.
On Christmas day, Tanya received a Christmas present of a pair of her own leotards and slippers. Now, she has grown up enough to go to a ballet lesson.
Dance, Tanya is about a cute little girl named Tanya who loved to dance and imitated her old sister’s dance. This book is an excellent introduction to ballet for young children by showing several dance positions such as Plié, Pirouette, and Arabesque.
This book ingeniously described the natural behavior of a young child who imitates an elder sister or brother. A young girl who has an elder sister and loves dance will especially love this book.
Hilda Must Be Dancing
(Author: Karma Wilson, Illustrator: Suzanne Watts, Age range: 3~8 years)
Hilda Hippo loved to dance, and she practiced hard every day.
When she was dancing, there was a lot of noise, and her friends did not like it. One day, monkeys asked her if she can sit and knit instead of dancing. Hilda tried to knit, but she did not enjoy it at all. So, she started dancing again. Afterward, Rhinos asked her to sing. Hilda tried to sing, but she was neither good at it nor fond of it. She went back to dancing. Then, buffaloes asked her to swim. Hilda tried to swim and loved it. She could dance while swimming: water ballet. All the animal friends enjoyed watching Hilda’s dancing this time, and they were happy for her.
Hilda Must Be Dancing is written by Karma Wilson. She has authored many children’s books on animals, and there are more than 10 books about bears.
Most of us have a favorite hobby. In this book, Hilde has a ceaseless desire to dance. As her dance disturbed her friends, Hilda tried a few other hobbies as per her friends’ advice, but she did not like them. Finally, she could find her favorite dance without disturbing her animal friends, and everyone became happy.
This book introduces a number of essential concepts such as living in a society, compromising with others, and ceaseless efforts to find a better solution.