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 Jayne Gammons

Yoga—a way to enjoy yourself and be one with nature. Does this invitation sound like a stretch for preschoolers? In ABC Yoga, author/illustrator Christiane Engel suggests you or your little ones don’t have to get it exactly right. You can explore yoga by just copying the poses and pretending you’re animals!

ABC Yoga is an interactive book of simple rhymes that explain how to take the posture of various animals and objects. For example, you’ll crawl like a crocodile, flutter like a butterfly, and squat like a grasshopper. Here’s an example rhyme from the book to show you how easy it is:


Hooty owl in the trees.

Look straight ahead.

Sit on your knees.

See? You don’t need to be a yoga enthusiast to use this book during a story time. However, if you want to learn more, there are illustrations at the end of the book that reference the names of each pose such as plank, bridge, and bow. Since kids love to pretend to be animals, this book provides a simple way to get them involved. The rhymes are good for the ear, the illustrations are good for the eyes, and the poses are good for the mind and body!

How can you use this book during story time?

  • Work your way through the alphabet and the poses by introducing only a few letters each session. After introducing a letter and pose, give the children a paper cutout or sticker of that letter. Participants at your story time can be encouraged to collect all 26 letters by attending future sessions.
  • Provide other books with simple illustrations of animals. One good choice is Animal ABC by Marcus Pfister. Encourage creativity by asking the children to study the illustrations and then make up their own poses. For actual photos of animals, check out the article “15 Adorable Animals Doing Yoga.”
  • Provide alphabet picture cards or flash cards. What new poses can students create? Arrange two or three cards in a row to encourage a movement pattern. For example, dog pose and then squat pose. Repeat.
  • Use the book as a get-to-know-you activity. Invite each child to find the letter that starts his or her name. Then have the group try that pose.
  • Take pictures of each child in the pose of his or her choice. Display the pictures along with children’s illustrations of the animals or alongside a display copy of the book. If you are tech-savvy, combine the pictures with music to make an iMovie to share during a future story time.

Click here to see a short trailer about the book on the publisher’s site. If you enjoy exploring this type of movement with your children, you might also like You Are a Lion!: And Other Fun Yoga Poses by Taeeun Yoo, Animal Action ABC by Karen Pandell and Art Wolfe, and The ABCs of Yoga for Kids by Teresa Anne Power.

Jayne Gammons is a gifted-education teacher, blogger, and workshop presenter. Look for more of her ideas for integrating the arts with books at her blogABCs of Reading: Integrating the ARTS with BOOKS to Teach COMPREHENSION Strategies. Or if you are interested in kindergarten and first-grade ideas, visit her primary blog, Smart Kids.

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