The best books about ballet dancers

1 authors have picked their favorite books about ballet dancers and why they recommend each book.

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Up to This Pointe

By Jennifer Longo,

Book cover of Up to This Pointe

Most books about grief deal specifically with the death of a loved one, but grief isn’t just about death—it’s about major loss. For some of us that might mean the loss of a friendship or relationship or job. In this book, the main character is facing the loss of a lifelong dream.

Despite what TV shows and self-help books tell us, success is not a simple matter of dedication and hard work. Sometimes we don’t achieve our dreams, and stories like this remind us that "failure" is okay, that we have options, that we can choose to pursue the thing we love in a different way, or choose to love something else, or maybe we'll have to take a break to heal and reflect before we choose anything at all. The universe might steal away a dream, but we remain in charge of our happiness.


Who am I?

I knew when I was in elementary school that I wanted to be a therapist when I grew up, but I took a slight detour after finishing a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology to work as a line cook, retail manager, veterinary assistant, freelance editor, and registered nurse before finding my way back to graduate school. I also released ten young adult novels, many of them populated by characters struggling with mental illness. I understand anxiety, survivor’s guilt, grief, and loss as both a counselor and a human being, and I selected these books because they resonated deeply with me. I hope readers find comfort and connection in their pages.


I wrote...

Girl Against the Universe

By Paula Stokes,

Book cover of Girl Against the Universe

What is my book about?

Sixteen-year-old Maguire has emerged unscathed from multiple tragedies that left others wounded or dead and is (not) dealing with the past by blaming herself. Her survivor’s guilt is so strong she’s decided she’s bad luck and that she must isolate herself from the rest of the world to protect people. But that’s difficult to do when your mom won’t homeschool you and your therapist convinces you to join the tennis team, and you really, really want to be able to get on a plane to attend a memorial service for your brother and father.

Balancing realism and hope, Girl Against the Universe is a funny and uplifting story about a girl with PTSD who learns how to make her own luck, with a little help from the people who love her.

Ballet Lesson

By Elizabeth Schaefer,

Book cover of Ballet Lesson: Peppa Pig

Peppa is an adorable little pink pig, and the Peppa Pig books are full of family fun and laughter. In this 8x8 storybook, slightly older children will delight in Peppa’s very first ballet lesson as she learns some graceful dance steps with all her friends. When Peppa comes home and decides to teach her parents how to do ballet she gets quite a surprise! Wonderful humor and colorful, lively illustrations contribute to all the dancing fun.


Who am I?

I’ve never forgotten the thrill of my first ballet! My grandmother and I went to see The Nutcracker when I was five, and that first ballet experience inspired a lifelong love of dance. As a child, I adored dressing up and twirling around the house with my sisters, and I went on to study dance along with English Literature in college. Years later when my own daughters adored dressing up in pink tutus, I started writing about a determined little mouse who loves to dance, and so Angelina Ballerina was born. Children naturally love music and dance, and I hope the picture books I’ve chosen will inspire you and your family with the magic of dance!


I wrote...

Angelina Ballerina

By Katharine Holabird, Helen Craig (illustrator),

Book cover of Angelina Ballerina

What is my book about?

Angelina is a passionate little mouse who wants nothing more than to be a real ballerina. She dances all the time—at home, at school, even in her dreams! Angelina is so busy dancing that she forgets about all the other things she’s supposed to do, like joining her family for breakfast and getting to school on time!

Angelina’s parents don’t know what to do—especially after her enthusiastic arabesques in the kitchen knock over the milk! Then they come up with a surprise that will change Angelina’s life forever…  Angelina Ballerina will enchant little dancers as she twirls off the page in beautiful illustrations by Helen Craig.

Fancy Nancy

By Jane O'Connor, Robin Preiss Glasser (illustrator),

Book cover of Fancy Nancy: Budding Ballerina

The Fancy Nancy books are hugely popular, and this is a great addition to the series. Nancy loves to dress up and dance, and in this story she sets out to show her favorite ballet moves to her father, with touchingly humorous results. Young readers will enjoy following along as Nancy demonstrates her best plies, pirouettes, and jetes, and will probably be inspired to start their own ballet lessons!

An entertaining way to learn basic ballet positions, and a special treat for devoted little ballet students and their families.


Who am I?

I’ve never forgotten the thrill of my first ballet! My grandmother and I went to see The Nutcracker when I was five, and that first ballet experience inspired a lifelong love of dance. As a child, I adored dressing up and twirling around the house with my sisters, and I went on to study dance along with English Literature in college. Years later when my own daughters adored dressing up in pink tutus, I started writing about a determined little mouse who loves to dance, and so Angelina Ballerina was born. Children naturally love music and dance, and I hope the picture books I’ve chosen will inspire you and your family with the magic of dance!


I wrote...

Angelina Ballerina

By Katharine Holabird, Helen Craig (illustrator),

Book cover of Angelina Ballerina

What is my book about?

Angelina is a passionate little mouse who wants nothing more than to be a real ballerina. She dances all the time—at home, at school, even in her dreams! Angelina is so busy dancing that she forgets about all the other things she’s supposed to do, like joining her family for breakfast and getting to school on time!

Angelina’s parents don’t know what to do—especially after her enthusiastic arabesques in the kitchen knock over the milk! Then they come up with a surprise that will change Angelina’s life forever…  Angelina Ballerina will enchant little dancers as she twirls off the page in beautiful illustrations by Helen Craig.

The Very Fairy Princess Takes the Stage

By Julie Andrews, Emma Walton Hamilton,

Book cover of The Very Fairy Princess Takes the Stage

A storybook that takes me back to my own dancing childhood. The fabulous mother-daughter team of Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton have created a delightful series of picture books with a very winsome protagonist, Gerry, who loves being a fairy princess - and what little girl doesn’t? In this charming story Gerry is given the part of a court jester in the ballet recital - definitely not her first choice!  Little dancers will be inspired by Gerry’s determination and undaunted enthusiasm, and cheer her on as she saves the day. 


Who am I?

I’ve never forgotten the thrill of my first ballet! My grandmother and I went to see The Nutcracker when I was five, and that first ballet experience inspired a lifelong love of dance. As a child, I adored dressing up and twirling around the house with my sisters, and I went on to study dance along with English Literature in college. Years later when my own daughters adored dressing up in pink tutus, I started writing about a determined little mouse who loves to dance, and so Angelina Ballerina was born. Children naturally love music and dance, and I hope the picture books I’ve chosen will inspire you and your family with the magic of dance!


I wrote...

Angelina Ballerina

By Katharine Holabird, Helen Craig (illustrator),

Book cover of Angelina Ballerina

What is my book about?

Angelina is a passionate little mouse who wants nothing more than to be a real ballerina. She dances all the time—at home, at school, even in her dreams! Angelina is so busy dancing that she forgets about all the other things she’s supposed to do, like joining her family for breakfast and getting to school on time!

Angelina’s parents don’t know what to do—especially after her enthusiastic arabesques in the kitchen knock over the milk! Then they come up with a surprise that will change Angelina’s life forever…  Angelina Ballerina will enchant little dancers as she twirls off the page in beautiful illustrations by Helen Craig.

Anna Pavlova

By Jane Pritchard, Caroline Hamilton,

Book cover of Anna Pavlova: Twentieth Century Ballerina

As a celebrity in her own time, Pavlova was groundbreaking. I enjoyed reading this book and learning more about the life of an extraordinary pioneer. She lived at a time when changes in the world were many, as the film of her performing the Dying Swan certainly proves. She toured the world in order to share her art with others and has name recognition that has lasted to this very day. If you're curious about her incredible life, don't miss this lovely book.   


Who am I?

P. I. Tchaikovsky is a world-famous composer but few people know anything about him. Much of his life was hidden by the Soviet Union due to his homosexuality. As information finally came to light, the mystery of his death in 1893 became an obsession for me. The truth of it lies beyond the rumors of suicide or cholera, as particular circumstances exposed in my novel clearly show. I am a ballet historian and the writing of Fate was an eight-year endeavor. Readers of Fate can now be the proverbial fly on the wall while Tchaikovsky lives his life and creates his major works.


I wrote...

Fate

By Adin Dalton,

Book cover of Fate

What is my book about?

A 19th-century tale of love and music that brings the fascinating life of P.I. Tchaikovsky to light in a way never seen before... Based on letters written by the composer to friends and colleagues, historical documents, and recently uncovered facts, this epic novel finally brings to light the intimate personal story kept closely guarded by the man behind the music.

Deftly written, it follows the composer from the time of his youthful creation of the ballet Swan Lake up to his mysterious and controversial death. It brings forward the beautiful and at times tragic events that marked his life and the lovers who inspired his greatest creativity. Did society forgive him, or did fate have the last word? A fascinating read with a stunning ending.

Sofía Acosta Makes a Scene

By Emma Otheguy,

Book cover of Sofía Acosta Makes a Scene

This book is absolutely brilliant, a wonderful commentary on really difficult current social issues that doesn’t feel like a school lesson, it follows the story of Sofia Acosta, daughter of ballet-obsessed Cuban immigrants who have great hopes for her daughter, as she begins to question her place in ballet, her community and the world at large, and all the really complicated choices people make as they grow up.


Who am I?

I'm a Mexican writer and illustrator based in Los Angeles. I was always a bookish kid! Growing up I loved reading contemporary books, mostly about fearless girls trying to change the world! In my career, I’ve had the privilege to work creating cover artwork for a lot of middle-grade books, which in turn leads me to read a lot of really great stories. As a bonus, as the industry has become more diverse, so have the stories of outstanding girls, making the middle-grade space even more amazing than it was when I was a kid.


I did the cover art for...

From the Desk of Zoe Washington

By Janae Marks,

Book cover of From the Desk of Zoe Washington

What is the book about?

From the Desk of Zoe Washington is one of my favorite middle-grade books I’ve ever read. Zoe’s story is full of nuance, bravery, and an unbeatable can-do attitude, as she uncovers the mystery of whether her father was really the perpetrator of the terrible crime that put him behind bars.

The Other Side of Perfect

By Mariko Turk,

Book cover of The Other Side of Perfect

Alina was well on her way to becoming a professional ballerina—until a devastating leg injury leaves her unable to dance en pointe. She returns to regular high school full-time, becomes involved with the school musical, and suddenly has to navigate changing relationships with her classmates and her still-dancing sister. This book is wonderfully complex and absolutely beautiful. It’s unapologetic about Alina’s ambition in a way that is rare for Young Adult novels. Reading it was like letting out a breath I knew I had been holding, but wasn’t sure I would ever be allowed to release.  


Who am I?

I was an ambitious teen, and as I entered adulthood, my relationship with ambition has continually evolved. Those of us with marginalized genders sometimes have our ambition treated with suspicion or scorn—by peers, family, or would-be mentors. I wanted to share books that don’t necessarily come to the same conclusion about ambition’s role in our lives, but that all grapple with what it means to be ambitious in a culture where that is often seen as threatening or unladylike—or where any sign of ambition gets one automatically labeled as “unlikeable.” I love these books’ narrators, and I hope you will find something to love in them too. 


I wrote...

It Goes Like This

By Miel Moreland,

Book cover of It Goes Like This

What is my book about?

Eva, Celeste, Gina, and Steph used to think their friendship was unbreakable. After all, they've been through a lot together, including the astronomical rise of Moonlight Overthrow, the world-famous queer pop band they formed in middle school. After a sudden falling out leads to the dissolution of the teens' band, their friendship, and Eva and Celeste's starry-eyed romance, nothing is the same. 

Gina and Celeste step further into the spotlight, Steph disappears completely, and Eva, heartbroken, takes refuge as a songwriter and secret online fangirl...of her own band. That is, until a storm devastates their hometown, bringing the four ex-best-friends back together. As they prepare for one last show, they'll discover whether growing up always means growing apart.

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