This week the spotlight is on children’s books featuring African-American ballerinas.
Why choose books about African-American ballerinas? First of all, because there are a lot of great reasons to read diversely.
Secondly, because a lot of good things can come from studying ballet, but not everyone is exposed to it at a young age. Personally, I discovered ballet when I went to college, when it was way too late to dream of becoming a dancer. Regardless, taking ballet classes reduced the stress of attending college, made me stronger, more coordinated, more self confident, and gave me a life-long appreciation for ballet. Studying ballet takes also takes a great deal of commitment and hard work, which are skills that apply to many avenues in life.
Finally, the featured books are likely to inspire children to explore their passions fully, no matter what those passions are.
To start the week, we have two books about the amazing true story of Michaela DePrince.
Young readers will enjoy Ballerina Dreams: From Orphan to Dancer (Step Into Reading, Step 4) by Michaela and Elaine DePrince and illustrated by Frank Morrison.
Left an orphan in war-torn Sierra Leone, Michaela suffered bullying because she had a skin condition. While still at the orphanage, however, Michaela found a photograph of a ballerina in a magazine and it made such an impression on her that she carried it with her wherever she went. After Michaela and her friend Mia were adopted by Elaine DePrince and moved to America, her new mother recognized Michaela’s interest in ballet and arranged for her to start dance lessons. Now Michaela dances with the Dutch National Ballet.
The book is illustrated with a mix of period photographs and Frank Morrison’s warm, creative paintings.
Ballerina Dreams is a marvelous introduction to biographies for young readers. It is a must read for aspiring dancers, as well.
Age Range: 7 – 9 years
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (October 14, 2014)
Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerinaby Michaela DePrince and Elaine Deprince
In this memoir written for an older audience, Michaela tells her amazing, inspiring story in deeper detail.
This video book trailer says it all:
Taking Flight deserves a wide audience. Who wouldn’t be moved by this wondrous story?
Age Range: 12 and up
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (October 14, 2014)
Disclosure: Both of these books were from the library. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.
Visit our other posts about Children’s Books Celebrating African-American Ballerinas:
Tuesday: Misty Copeland
Wednesday: Debbie Allen
Thursday: Janet Collins
Friday: Beautiful (African-American) Ballerina
Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.