11 books directly related to ballet 📚

All 11 ballet books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

Fancy Nancy: Budding Ballerina

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

Book cover of Fancy Nancy: Budding Ballerina

Why this book?

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.


Dancing on My Grave

By Gelsey Kirkland,

Book cover of Dancing on My Grave

Why this book?

I found that this sometimes funny but always emotional and moving account of Ms. Kirkland's life as a ballerina in New York City to be a real triumph. She brings to the pages an honesty that is rarely seen, even in autobiographies. From the illegal drug scene that nearly killed her to the everyday trials of an immensely talented dancer caught between two worlds, this is the stuff that nightmares are made of.


Polina

By Bastien Vives,

Book cover of Polina

Why this book?

Polina is about a would-be ballerina and a teacher and the methods he employs to get the best from his students. Polina ages from child to young adult through its pages, and as her comprehension of the world about her and the people in it changes, so too does the reader’s impressions of her. Like any good character piece, much depends on the performance of the players, and therefore Vivès and his ability to convey subtleties of emotional reactions. He always leaves enough room for the reader’s own interpretations, and so hooks you into the nuances of Polina’s feelings. Vivès can draw anything, but this beautiful, delicately balanced story depends as much on what he leaves out as what he puts in. A small masterpiece.


Ballet Lesson: Peppa Pig

By Elizabeth Schaefer,

Book cover of Ballet Lesson: Peppa Pig

Why this book?

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.


Anna Pavlova: Twentieth Century Ballerina

By Jane Pritchard, Caroline Hamilton,

Book cover of Anna Pavlova: Twentieth Century Ballerina

Why this book?

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.   


Dancing for Degas

By Kathryn Wagner,

Book cover of Dancing for Degas

Why this book?

If you've ever found yourself captivated by those colorful, romantic paintings of ballerinas by impressionist Edgar Degas, treat yourself to this fascinating novel. Ms. Wagner brings a particular dancer to life, along with her family, in this fictional account. The world of the Paris Opera in the nineteenth century is yours for the taking in this easy-to-read and very imaginative story. It had special meaning for me because I love that world and had never been immersed in it before. 


Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals

By Oliver Burkeman,

Book cover of Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals

Why this book?

Essential Skill #3 for Creatives: The ability to say no

Saying no is tricky, especially for people-pleasers. But if you don’t decide who you’ll say no to, in the end, no one will be happy with you. One of the many important lessons in Oliver Burkeman’s book is to decide in advance who you can disappoint. This book is both deep and practical at the same time, my favorite combination. In it, he makes a strong argument for reality in a way that very few books do these days. You just can’t argue with “Things take the time they take” and “You just can’t do everything.” The minute we decide to accept reality, that’s when things start to improve.


The Very Fairy Princess Takes the Stage

By Julie Andrews, Emma Walton Hamilton,

Book cover of The Very Fairy Princess Takes the Stage

Why this book?

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. 


I Wanna Be Where You Are

By Kristina Forest,

Book cover of I Wanna Be Where You Are

Why this book?

I love that our heroine Chloe had a backbone and was able to put our hero Eli in his place and not take his crap. I also like how their road trip adventure to bring Chloe to an important ballet audition starts off with Eli blackmailing her into bringing him, and his dog, along. Eli was another flawed male lead I loved, there were moments where he’s so close to being adorable and perfect, but then he’d be clueless and frustrate Chloe—and me! I really enjoyed that Chloe was ready to forge forward on her own and Eli had to whip himself into shape to earn her!! 


Princess Naomi Helps a Unicorn

By Once Upon a Dance, Ethan Roffler (illustrator),

Book cover of Princess Naomi Helps a Unicorn

Why this book?

This is a beautiful story about the friendship and bonds between sisters, not just ordinary sisters, but Princess sisters Naomi and Miranda. They were very close but like all siblings, sometimes, they did not get along so Princess Naomi left their castle where she came upon a beautiful little unicorn that had fallen asleep among the red poppies (known for putting unicorns to sleep). She managed to wake the unicorn and they started out to find the unicorn’s baby that was missing. After her fun-filled adventure, she realized she was no longer angry with her sister and could not wait to share her story with Princess Miranda! The bond between family is strong and a wonderful thing.


Nijinsky: A Life of Genius and Madness

By Richard Buckle,

Book cover of Nijinsky: A Life of Genius and Madness

Why this book?

I adore this book because it simply plunges the reader into Nijinsky's strange and wonderful world. As the greatest dancer-actor of his time, the pressure placed on him was tremendous and had a great effect on his delicate yet wildly creative mind. After reading this book, you will come away with a unique understanding of the world of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes at the turn of the last century.