Book to Boogie is a monthly series that pairs picture books with dance and movement activities for preschool story time. The series is curated by Kerry Aradhya of Picture Books & Pirouettes and written by a different guest writer each month. We hope that children’s librarians, as well as classroom teachers and dance educators, will find these activities useful and fun!

by Jill Homan Randall

"Dance with Me" by Charles R. Smith Jr. and Noah Z. Jones.

“Dance with Me” by Charles R. Smith Jr. and Noah Z. Jones.

Some picture books literally “dance off the page” and get us moving. I am always on the lookout for these special books.

The 2008 book Dance with Me by Charles R. Smith Jr. and illustrator Noah Z. Jones is a must-have for your book collection. It can become a “regular favorite” during your story time at a library, at home, or in a parent/child dance class. Children ranging in age from one to six can all enjoy Dance with Me.

For anyone new to the idea of adding movement to story time, this book is a perfect introduction to this concept. Follow along as a young girl and boy — as well as some adults and animals — dance around town. We will shake, lift, twirl, and wiggle together!

Movement Activities

As you read the book, I suggest that all of you (i.e., the reader, kids, and parents) begin up on your feet. Prep the group by telling them that you will be reading the book and getting everyone dancing at the same time.

The story talks about “the beat of the music,” so find a song to accompany your reading that has a strong beat and playful tone. Pharrell Williams’s song “Happy” is a joyful favorite right now. I also suggest some classic jazz tunes such as “Watermelon Man” and “Cantaloupe Island,” both by Herbie Hancock.

Begin reading the book and encouraging the children and families to “dance along.”

The text so nicely leads the way:

Lift your legs up and down.

Twirl your hips round and round.

Wiggle, waggle to the sound.

And move to the beat.

If you feel that the group might be hesitant at first, consider reading the book once through by itself, and then reading it a second time with everyone moving.

Post author Jill Homan Randall.

Post author Jill Homan Randall.

Other Books to Explore

Several other books also “dance off the page.” From Head to Toe by Eric Carle, which is available in both Spanish and English, is a well-loved book for dancing children. Wiggle! Like an Octopus and Swing! Like a Monkey, by Harriet Ziefert and Simms Taback, are filled with movement inspiration as well.

HeadShot.JillHomanRandallJill Homan Randall is passionate about the intersection of language and movement. She teaches dance at The Hamlin School in San Francisco and has been a teaching artist for over 16 years. Jill maintains the blog Dancing WordsDancing Words, about children’s books on dance and books that inspire dancing. Her article “What Makes a Good Book about Dance?” was published in the January/February 2013 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. Jill also has a chapter on the intersection of language and movement in preschool and kindergarten dance classes in the book Moving Ideas: Multimodality and Embodied Learning in Communities and Schools.

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