Book Recommendations

by Ellen Stoll Walsh

I love this book! All the frogs hop, but one frog loves to dance! 
This is a great text for inviting movement and it has a good story.  
Leaps, turns, twists, hops, dances and life lessons permeate. The images are 
colorful and reflect the movement that occurs in the story.
"Oh yes there's room," said Betsy. "For dancing and hopping."

by Ellen Stoll Walsh

This book can take you and your little ones in many different directions. You can talk about camouflage, color mixing, and my favorite, dancing! Each mouse gets into a different jar of paint and mixes with another primary color to make a new color.  Using different colors of felt to act as the paint, students can act out a mixing dance as they pretend to be the different mice in the story. For an art activity, invite little ones to do color mixing with actual paint by encouraging them to dance their paintbrush in the different colors of paint. Don't forget to leave a little bit of the paper the cat can't find them!

by Sandra Boynton

 Another great book by this author to inspire creative movement in young audiences. Boynton brings in rhyming language with the movement language throughout the text, a nice element to developing those literacy skills in preschoolers. The story is easy to act out and a fun read. You don't need a background in dance to dance with little Pookie!

by Katherine Ayers

This is a rhyming book that tells you what fruits and veggies grow up, down, and around. Kids have a blast acting out these movements every time the words appear in the story and say the words along with the movements. This activity is great for reinforcing patterns and pre-literacy skills. Read it through more than once with your little ones and try the movements up, down, and around in different ways. Like standing or jumping for up, and a twirl or walking around a friend for around.
by Sandra Boynton

 This is a great find for inspiring little ones to dance. Trot with the turkey and slide with the sheep are just some of the wonderful movement phrases that appear in the story - and there are many of them. The author not only uses movement phrases, but also rhyming and onomatopoeia by incorporating the various sounds of the barnyard animals. The illustration and story also invite the reader to exercise those number skills when the animals promenade two by two. A great movement story by Boynton!

 Why have a avoided this book for so long? It's fantastic! I have picked it up and put it down a number of times and never bought it...until recently. I was in a bookstore where they had a copy of it as a board book and this is what it took to get me to commit. 
The author tells of a lanky giraffe who can't dance and is teased by all the local animals at the annual jungle party for his lack of skills. Gerald, the giraffe, goes off alone feeling sorry for himself when a cricket befriends him and gives him some words of wisdom. Gerald learns that sometimes being different, means dancing to different music. Gerald discovers his own dance moves and his self-confidence. It is a great story about self-respect, self-confidence, and how to act towards people who may do things a little different from the social norm. These may sound like big concepts, but the author presents them in a way that is totally accessible to children in the three-five zone. Additionally, the story is an invitation to creative movement and social dancing!

 The newest addition to my library of children's books for creative movement is this gem. Animals of all kinds get together and teach their dances down by the cool of the pool. Great action words like -
flap, wiggle, stamp, skip, hop, prance, and dance...
All the animals end up in a great big splash and dance in the water. The the sun sets and the day ends. I like that this book not only invites great movement, but also has a message about how to treat one another. Duck, frog, pig, sheep, cat, dog, horse are all happy to share with the other animals and the other animals are excited to learn from them, inviting a lesson about acceptance for the young audience. The pages are bright, colorful, and fill-up the pages.

by Lindsay Craig illustrated by Marc Brown

 This is my latest find in my growing collection of children's books for Story Story Dance. Illustrated by Marc Brown, this rhyming book uses colorful language to name different ways of moving like, tippity, stompity, slappity, creepity, and so on. A different animal makes each different kind of sound with their happy feet. This story was accessible from toddlers all the way to pre-k. Students were excited to guess what animals were leaving their footprints on the pages! After we read the book, I put on dance music (or played the ukulele depending on the moment) and called out the movement words and animals; children embodied the animals and danced the movements.

by Emma Garcia

Wow what a great find this was! The images are bright and colorful, the language is simple and invites movement on each page. The reader is introduced to all the different construction vehicles that are all helping to clean-up a big mess. At the end, you discover the mess has been built into an adventure playground. The children loved naming all the trucks and colors in the book. A great find. Other books by this author:

by Doreen Cronin illustrated by Scott Menchin

This book is a lot of fun. I used this with my preschool story dance class and the kids loved it. The main character, the dog on the cover, tries out different ways of stretching with various adorable animal characters along the way. As we read along, we tried out the stretching moves on our story squares. The favorite part was when we blew imaginary bubble gum bubbles (to stretch our lungs) and then went POP! just like in the book. Other books by this author and illustrator include:


by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers

  This book seems to intrigue any child who gets their hands on it, and really, any book by these creative authors is worth checking out. The expressions made out of delicious fruits and vegetables are amazing. This book also uses a lot of feelings-language and asks readers questions about how they are feeling. I have used this book with young clients in counseling; the vibrant, expressive images help create dialogue with a young person about their feelings and also helps to give names to those feelings. 

As a follow-up art project in my pre-k class, students used construction paper, a variety of eye stickers, markers, and scissors, to create their own food with a mood. The students came-up with their own food, expression, and wrote the name of the mood on the back.  

Here are some other books by these authors.

Food for Thought: The Complete Book of Growing Concepts for Young Minds: Shapes, Colors, Numbers, Letters, Opposites

One Lonely Seahorse

Dog Food

by Jamie Lee Curtis illustrated by Laura Cornell

This is a rhyming story. The narrator is a little girl who shares how she experiences different moods throughout her daily life. The colors of the illustrations for each mood enhance the expression of the mood to the young readers. For an after story project with my pre-k students, we have used paper plates and other art materials to have students create their own mood mask. We also have them write a response to the prompt "Today I feel______."
This book can be both an educational and therapeutic tool. What I love most about it is the interactive mood wheel the author and illustrator provide at the end of the book. The young reader can use the mood wheel to change the eyes and mouth of the main character and read the names of the moods they choose. For instance, the child can give the main character angry eyes, with a sad mouth, or a silly mouth with happy eyes.

I have used the mood wheel with young clients and in my preschool classroom.  The children can manipulate the face and talk about how they experience those moods, or what makes them feel like the face they created, or try on new moods by mirroring the face they made. Even younger pre-readers can have meaningful play and dialogue with this book. I recommend anyone working with young children -clinician, teacher, parent, or nanny - get a copy of this book, if you don't already have one.

by Maria Fleming

 Every fall when I teach creative movement, I incorporate fake fall leaves into the class. The leaves are for going around, over, and through. I also have students try other movements with the leaves, like galloping, skipping, and rolling on the leaves. This year with my new literacy-based dance classes, I am using this book, which is full of great movement language - it also rhymes. The children in the story follow the life of a fall leaf from falling down around the town, to piling up and rolling around in the piles, to raking them up and sending the bags of leaves away on a truck. 
Some verbs from the story include -
jumping, leaping, hiding, creeping, crunching, stomping, rolling, romping.

by Eric Carle

I am a huge Eric Carle fan, well really, what teacher isn't. This book got me by surprise. I was covering a young preschool group over the summer. It was the end of the day and I was choosing some books to read while children were waiting to get picked-up. How had I gone so long without knowing about this book? After reading it, I ordered a copy for myself and will be integrating this into my Story Story Dance! classes. Animals in the book do movements and then ask the children, can you? Oh! and there is also a game version of it,  Eric Carle From Head to Toe Game.

by Charles R. Smith, Jr. illustrated by Noah Z. Jones

This is the book I used to kick-off my new children's group Story Story Dance! This book is full of movement inspiring language with colorful images the children enjoy. The children in the book make their way through the city and all along the way the animals and people are invited to dance with them. The book was accessible to young preschoolers up to kindergarten. A few of the little ones got excited about the balloons on some of the pages. The book itself is hard covered with nice thick pages like you see for toddler books, but much larger. This means it should last much longer too.

by Kerry Lee MacLean

Kerry Lee MacLean is by far becoming one of my favorite authors. Her books are beautiful and accessible to all ages. In this book, she skillfully links yoga poses into the daily lives of children through the peaceful piggies. My pre-k class loves yoga. We have been incorporating yoga into our classroom curriculum a lot this year. For our Donald Crews author study, we did transportation themed poses. Our current unit is Day and Night and I taught the children the sun salutation and the half moon pose. They absolutely love it. The poses also become useful during transitions when children are most susceptible to fooling around and falling off task. If you are a parent, teacher, or therapist working with young children, this book is a must have.  

Discover KLM on your own at her website:

by Bonny Becker illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

This is a great book for children about a grumpy bear who makes friends with a  mouse. The bear shuts out the world and yells at the mouse, but the mouse continues to be polite and persistent regardless of bear's attempts to isolate himself. Bear eventually gives-in to mouse and for the first time discovers his own likable qualities and makes a friend.This story gently addresses issues of anger and antisocial behaviors children may be experiencing or witnessing. It can be used by parents, teachers, and therapists when dealing with antisocial behaviors and young children.

by Peggy Rathmann

 I love this book! First of all, my dad was a police officer, and had a police dog, and visited schools, so I do  have some emotional connection to the story. It is also a Caldecott Medal Book, so you know its awesome. This is a great addition to the early childhood curriculum under themes of safety, 911, and community helpers. The first time I taught with this book I was working as a Language and Literacy teacher in an after school program in San Francisco. In the story, the children write letters to Officer Buckle; I had my first graders write letters to my dad.

by  Tomie Depaola

This Native American folk tale tells the story of Little Gopher, a young boy with a special gift. His gift was not to be a great hunter, like other boys in his tribe would grow up to be; his gift is to paint the stories of his people. I love this story for many reasons. For one, it teaches acceptance, an important lesson for children and grown-ups.Here are some ideas for using this book in the early childhood classroom:

  • Sensory, Kinetic Learning, Naturalistic Learning - Art: Paint with flowers.
  • Social Science, Intrapersonal Learning - Art: Invite students to paint their own family story. In my classroom, we asked students to paint a day at school.  Later that day, one of my students was painting at the easel and was overheard saying, "I am painting the sunset like Little Gopher!"
  • Social Science, Inter and Intra-personal Learning - Lead a Discussion: Ask students, What is your special gift?

by Tomie DePaola

This is an excellent story for young children and can be used in a variety of curriculum themes including flowers, Native American folktales, family, Texas history, shapes, and character development. DePaola tells the story of a young girl who must make a great sacrifice to help her people. Children are captivated by this story which relates directly to their lives. Here are some early childhood activities that can be used with this story:

  • Pre-Math Skills - Shapes: Triangles and circles appear in some images in the illustrations. Use these shapes as tracers (stencils). Children can trace, cut, then decorate as tipi or badges.  
  • Sensory and Kinetic LearningArt: Paint with blues/purples to create a field of bluebonnets like the ones that grew in the story. 
  • Health and Social Science, Inter and Intra-personal Learning - Lead a Discussion. Do you have a favorite toy? How do you think She-Who-Is-Alone felt giving up her doll? What would you do?

by Jennifer Veenendall

This is a new book and a new author I recently discovered at the library. I was taking out another book when I spotted this on the cart. This book is great for children who are dealing with sensory issues or for children who attend school with other children with these types of issues. There are a lot of words, but it could be used with preschoolers; definitely kindergarten and first grade. This author also has other publications for children addressing sensory and other issues that I look forward to checking out soon!

by Tana Hoban

 Its exactly what it says it is! I use this with my pre-k kids; it can be used to support various classroom themes in addition to opposites. Next week, we are using this text in the dance class to create an opposites palate of movement.

by Linda Williams

 This book is great for incorporating creative movement with story telling. There are movements built into the telling of the story. I have seen other creative movement teachers create entire classes from this book, and have also used this in my own pre-k class for story-time. I had the students create movements that they could do while sitting so it would be interactive without getting too crazy. You can take the movements from this story as far as you want to go. It also is an excellent story for children with a good message about overcoming fears, especially during the spooky season when young children are confronted with spooky images that may sometimes seem a little scary.

by Kerri Lee Maclean
This is one of my latest finds. I recently started practicing meditation and was looking for a way to incorporate it into my teaching practices. This is a wonderful book for young children to learn about their emotions and meditation practice. Parents and teachers can use this book. I am looking forward to purchasing more of Kerri Maclean's books.

by Baron Baptiste

I found this book at the library. I checked it out so often that I finally decided it was time to get my own copy. This is great for teachers as well as parents to introduce yoga to young children. It is a Barefoot Books publication and like all their books, the illustrations are beautiful and the book itself even feels nice to the touch. A great resource for creating movement stories for children.

by Ann Jonas

This book is great for incorporating creative movement into to your early childhood classroom curriculum, or to use in your creative movement class. The children in the story dance with scarves to show how colors mix together to make new colors. Here are some ideas for using this book:
  • Give students scarves for dancing after reading the story.
  • Play "Freeze Dance" using scarves.
  • Give out scarves to students. Then ask questions like "If you can make the color purple, come on up." Students with red and blue scarves can then bring up their scarves. Or have, them dance in the middle.

by Ann Hayes

This was a random find one day many years ago at a book store in Concord, Ma. I just came upon it and bought it without hesitation. The story takes the young reader through all the steps of putting on a show. For opening night, the pages fold out to show the curtain opening. Even the book itself has drama! I have used this when teaching preschoolers drama. I do not read the story, but rather go through the illustrations reviewing the steps of putting on a show; then I incorporate my own activities. For instance, the actors in the story rehearse the dance in the play. I put on music and have the students dance. I have also added intermodel elements, like having the students create and color their own marquis for the story, like Minnie the publicity director in the story. Although I have only used this book with preschoolers, this would definitely work with elementary students.