Elephants Cannot Dance!

Citation: Willems, M. (2009). Elephants Cannot Elephants Cannot DanceDance! New York: Hyperion Books for Children.

Ages: 4 – 9

Grades: PreK – 2

Description:  In Elephants Cannot Dance! Piggie tries to teach Gerald how to dance.  Gerald is convinced that Elephants cannot dance, while Piggie is not. Gerald eventually tries to dance, and ends up doing the opposite of what Piggie instructs.

Uses:  Elephants Cannot Dance! is one of Willems’ Elephant and Piggie books that are ideal for beginning readers.  The book features Willems’ characteristic sparse images and text bubbles to tell the story.  Because the story is told through Elephant and Piggie speaking to each other, it is not the best choice for a traditional read-aloud during storytime. However, the plot would lend itself well to a storytime puppet show. Librarians and teachers can act out the story, and then invite children to dance. Librarians can even use the elephant prop as a way to engage students: librarians can instruct children to show elephant their best dance moves, or to teach elephant how to dance.  The book is also ideal for display because of the familiarity of Willems’ works. Familiarity with Willems’ works and style of writing will lead parents and children to be more comfortable checking out the work, and reading the get moving message.

Review Sources:

Elephants Cannot Dance!. (2009). Publishers Weekly, 256(20), 55.

Smith, R.L. (2009). Elephants Cannot Dance!. Horn Book Magazine, 85(4), 433 – 434.

Search Terms: elephants, pigs, dance

How Can You Dance?

Citation: Walton, R., & López-Escrivá, A. (2001). How Can You Dance? New York: Putnam’s.How Can You Dance?

Ages: 0 – 8

Grades: PreSchool – 3

Description:  With rhyming text, How Can You Dance? asks children how they move and dance, and then compares it to the movement of an animal. For example, the book asks “How can you dance as you swim in a pool? Dance like a frog, feeling fine, keeping cool.”  After each rhyming line, the book includes instructions on how to move like the animal example.

Uses:  With its rhyming text and question and answer style, this book is sure to get kids off their feet! The book can be used in storytime to get kids moving, and can be used with differently abled adults and children.

Review Sources:

Cooper, I. (2001). How Can You Dance? (Book Review). Booklist, 1897.

Jones, T.E., Toth, L., Charnizon, M., Grabarek, D., Larkins, J., & Ceraldi, G. (2001). How Can You Dance? (Book Review). School Library Journal, 47(7), 90.

Roback, D., Brown, J. M., & Britton, J. (2001). How Can You Dance? (Book Review). Publishers Weekly, 248(24),85.

Search Terms: rhyme, animals, animal movements, dance, diversity, differently-abled 

The Hokey Pokey

Citation: La Prise, L., Macak, C. P., Baker, T., & Hamanaka, S. (1996). The hokey pokey. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.The Hokey Pokey

Ages: 4 – 9

Grades: PreK – 3

Description:  In this book, La Prise covers all of the lyrics of the original Hokey Pokey song.  On each page, children and animals dance along to the lyrics of the traditional rhyme.

Uses: La Prise’s text can be used in a preschool or younger elementary storytime or program. Since many children know the rhyme, it would be easy to invite them to join in and move with the story as it is read.  It can also be read to small children who have not heard the Hokey Pokey, or who are learning to distinguish their left from their right.  This could also be used in a program about music, or to perhaps entice a reluctant reader to read.

Review Sources:

Devereaux, E. & Roback, D. (1997). Forecasts: Children’s books. Publisher’s Weekly, 244(1):72.

Morgan, K. (1997). Starred reviews: Books for youth. Booklist, 93(11):940.

Search Terms: dance, rhyme, nursery rhyme, animals, 

The Animal Boogie

Citation: Harter, D. (2000). The animal boogie. New York: Barefoot Books. The Animal Boogie

Ages: 2 – 6

Grades: PreK – Grade 1

Description:  Harter’s The Animal Boogie invites readers and listeners into the jungle to see many of the different animals that live there: bears, monkeys, elephants, and leopards. The animals wiggle and shake throughout the jungle. The book has bright, colorful images of the animals moving about, and includes a musical score to The Animal Boogie.  

Uses: The Animal Boogie is a great book for a music and movement storytime. Librarians and teachers who are more musically inclined can play the tune provided for children, while they shake and wiggle away. Librarians/teachers can read the story and ask children to shake and move along with the different animals, and/or play the song after the story concludes.

Search Terms:

Land, Karen. (2000). The Animal Boogie (Book Review). School Library Journal, 46(12),109.

Decker, Charlotte. (2001).  The Animal Boogie (Book Review). Library Talk, 14(1), 38.

Tags:  rhyme, animals, jungle, dance

Ten Go Tango

Citation: Dorros, A., & McCully, E. A. (2000). Ten go tango. New York: HarperCollinsPublishers. ten go tango

Ages: 3-6

Grades: Pre-K – Kindergarten

Description: Ten Go Tango is a story that combines the concept of counting with a story of music and dancing animals. As the numbers progress 1 – 10, the appropriate number of animals is depicted doing different dance steps. Animals do dances such as the foxtrot, the rumba, and the twist.  The final number is a pull out spread with a large number of dancing animals.

Uses: Ten Go Tango is perfect for a toddler or preschool centered storytime focused on the concept of counting.  Teachers/librarians can teach children the different dances after the storytime, or during the storytime.

Review Sources:

Forecasts: Children’s Books. (2000). Publisher’s Weekly, 247(10):109.

Pierini, Rosalyn. (2000). Ten Go Tango. School Library Journal. 46(5):140.

Tags: dance, counting, animals, 

Dancing Feet!

Citation: Craig, L., & Brown, M. T. (2010). Dancing feet! New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Dancing Feet

Ages: 0-7

Grades: PreK – Kindergarten

Description: Craig’s Dancing Feet! encourages readers to get moving and to guess who is dancing along to the beat of the text through rhymes and images.  The book begins with “Tippity! Tippity! Little black feet! Who is dancing that tippity beat?” with small pictures of feet around the page.  The next page answers that ladybugs are the animals dancing, complete with a full page picture of ladybugs. The book continues in this fashion through a number of animals.

Uses: Dancing Feet!’s rhyming text and large, vibrant collage images make it perfect for a toddler storytime.  The question and answer format of the book will get kids involved in the story, while also encouraging them to dance along.  This book can be used in a program about dance or animals, and librarians/teachers can invite children to dance like each animal while the book is being read, or when it is finished.

Review Sources:

Boudreau, T. (2010). Dancing Feet! (Book Review). School Library Journal, 56(4):122.

Cummins, J. (2010). Dancing Feet! (Book Review). Booklist, 106(15):46.

Kirkus Reviews. (2010). Dancing Feet! (Book Review). Kirkus Reviews, 78(8):359.

Publisher’s Weekly. (2010). Dancing Feet! (Book Review). Publisher’s Weekly, 257(14): 59

Tags: animals, dance, rhyme,

Get Up and Go!

Citation: Carlson, N. L. (2006). Get up and go! New York: Viking. get up and go

Ages: 0- 8

Grades: PreK – 1

Description:  Carlson’s text begins by telling readers: “You are special!” and that no matter if you are “tall, short, skinny or round” that it is important to take care of your body!  She then directly challenges readers to get out from behind the screen, and to get out and get some exercise. Throughout the book, the animal characters take part in a number of different types of physical activities, and with the text frankly, yet delicately, explaining the importance of physical activity, and what parts of the body physical activity can help.  

Uses: Carlson’s text is a direct challenge to the readers to get up and get moving. It is ideal to use in a storytime about the importance of exercise our about being healthy. The way Carlson presents the information highlights that this book could be used to introduce young children to healthy lifestyles. The book could also be useful in a family, toddler, or preschool storytime where adult family members and/or guardians are present, to also encourage them to get up and get moving, and/or to understand the importance of physical activity. This book could be used in a storytime program as a lead in or explanation before the teacher or librarian leads children through a group exercise.

Review Sources:

Jonas, JoAnn. (2006). Get Up and Go! [Review of the book Get Up and Go!]. School Library Journal, 52(2): 94

Phelan, C. (2005). Get Up and Go! [Review of the book Get Up and Go]. Booklist, 102(7):52.

Kirkus Reviews. (2005).  Get Up and Go. [Review of the book Get Up and Go]. Kirkus Reviews, 73(23):1271

Tags:  exercise, non-fiction, animals, dance, hiking, sports


Citation: Calmenson, S., & Degen, B. (2008). Jazzmatazz! New York, NY: HarperCollins Childrens Books. jazzmatazz

Ages: 2-8

Grades: PreSchool – Grade 2

Description: With rhyming text, Calmenson tells the story of what happens when a piano playing mouse enters into a house on a cold, winter’s day.  Eventually, the piano playing mouse has the whole family, then the whole town making music. The characters dance, sing, and fiddle throughout the town, and throughout the book.

Use:The rhyming and sing-song nature of the text makes Calmenson’s Jazzmatazz! a great storytime option. The book can be used as part of a larger program about music and/or dance. Teachers and librarians can read the book, then give students instruments, so they can parade around and dance to their own music.  Teachers and librarians can also play jazz music for students to dance along.

Review Sources:

Kirkus Reviews. (2007). Jazzmatazz! [Review of the book Jazzmatazz!]. Kirkus Reviews, 75(23):1243

Hutley, Krista. (2008). Jazzmatazz! [Review of the book Jazzmatazz}. Booklist, 104 (9/10):94.

Dean, Kara. (2008). Jazzmatazz! [Review of the book Jazzmatazz!] School Library Journal,  54(3):155

Tags: animals, mice, jazz, children, dance

Dancing in My Bones

Citation: Andrews, Sylvia. (2001). Dancing in My Bones. [New York]: HarperFestival. Dancing in My Bones

Ages:  0-8

Grade Level: Babies and Toddlers/Preschool

Description:  This is the story of a young girl with dancing in her bones! The book follows her and company of friends as they hip-hop, tip-top, and be-bop through a park.  The book is written in first person, which will encourage students to dance along! The book includes a note at the end of the book suggesting ways to incorporate students into the activity of the text.

Use: The first person narration as well as the active, rhyming text make this book ideal for use in programming with toddlers and preschoolers. Children can move along with the text of the book as it is read.

Review Sources:

Bair, Janet M. (2001). Dancing in my bones. [Review of the book Dancing in My Bones]. School Library Journal 47(12):88. Retrieved from:http://web.a.ebscohost.com/novp/detail?vid=49&sid=f84f9f85-81e6-45f2-be2a-f3af2f78b6c3%40sessionmgr4004&hid=4109&bdata=JnNpdGU9bm92cC1saXZl#UI=116844&db=neh,

Segal, Marta (2001). Dancing in my bones. [Review of the book Dancing in My Bones]. Booklist. Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com/novp/detail?vid=49&sid=f84f9f85-81e6-45f2-be2a-f3af2f78b6c3%40sessionmgr4004&hid=4109&bdata=JnNpdGU9bm92cC1saXZl#UI=116844&db=neh

Kirkus Reviews. (2010). Dancing in my bones. [Review of the book Dancing in My Bones}. Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/sylvia-andrews/dancing-in-my-bones/

Tags: Diversity,  differently-abled, dancing, children, outside

Giraffes Can’t Dance

Title: Giles, Andreae & Parker-Rees, G. (2001). Giraffes Can’t Dance. New York: Orchard Books. Giraffes

Age: 3-6

Grade Level: Babies and Toddlers

Description: Giraffes Can’t Dance is the story of Gerald the giraffe. Every year, all of the other Animals in Africa gather for the Jungle Dance, where they prance and dance to the beat of the music.  Gerald is too clumsy to dance with all of the animals at the Jungle Dance, until he finds his own beat and rhythm.

Use: With bold watercolor images and rhyming text, Giraffes Can’t Dance is a great resource for use in a young child or toddler storytime. Librarians can invite children to dance along with Gerald, or after the story has concluded, in order to incorporate physical activity into the program.

Review Sources:

Publisher’s Weekly (n.d). Giraffes Can’t Dance. [Review of the book Giraffes Can’t Dance]. Publisher’s Weekly. Retrieved from: http://www.publishersweekly.com/9780439287197

Kirkus Reviews (2010). Giraffes Can’t Dance. [Review of the book Giraffes Can’t Dance]. Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/giles-andreae/giraffes-cant-dance/

Tags: animals, dance, giraffes