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 Maria Hanley

I had heard about the picture book We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio and couldn’t wait to check it out. It’s based on the best-selling book Wonder by the same author. As I work with children every day and have a child of my own, I think it’s important to always incorporate acceptance and kindness into every movement lesson or story time. Here are some movement ideas to go along with this fantastic picture book. 

Read the book first and talk through any observations or questions the audience might have. It’s a powerful book, and I can see children (and adults) having many questions. 

Augie, the main character, feels sad in the book because people notice he looks different than everyone else. An idea is to explore a feelings dance and put the feelings of sad into movement. How would you dance if you were happy? How about feeling silly? Or strong and brave? You could use any emotion here and could even give different scenarios and how they would make the attendees feel.  

Something that Augie likes to do when he’s feeling sad or alone is to imagine that he goes to a different place. In this story, he blasts off through the clouds into space and lands on Pluto. An idea I had was to ask the children where they might want to imagine going when they feel sad or are in a situation they don’t want to be in. Maybe the park? You could move like trees and flowers. Listening to what they say and creating movement on the spot will be the most meaningful here. Blasting off like a rocket and floating through the clouds is really wonderful imagery for movement. Dancing on Pluto could be fun, too! See where else you could explore! 

These are my two favorite quotes from the book. They could be interpreted into movement as well! 

“The earth is big enough for all kinds of people.” 

“Look with kindness and you will always find wonder.”

I hope you have a meaningful movement exploration using these ideas and this book! 

Guest blogger Maria Hanley.

Maria Hanley is an early childhood dance educator with more than 10 years of experience teaching infant, toddler, and preschool movement classes. When she’s not teaching, she writes on her blog, Maria’s Movers, which offers tips and tools for teachers who create with young dancers and movers. She also spends a lot of her time taking care of her young son. Maria and her family recently moved from New York City to Cleveland, OH. 

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