9 Ballet Books Inspired by Isabelle, the 2014 American Girl of the Year



American Girl has announced their 2014 pick for Girl of the Year! Isabelle is a ballet dancer who is also interested in design. She loves helping others and is always trying to find new ways to improve herself. Isabelle is the star of a series of American Girl books which describe her adventures on and off the stage. For readers who love ballet dancing and are looking for even more inspiring books on the subject, here are a few of our favorites:

I Dreamed I Was a Ballerina, by Anna Pavlova
This story of Anna Pavlova’s early life, drawn from her memoir, includes a detailed account of her first trip to the ballet, when she first decided that her dream was to become a dancer. This enchanting book is illustrated with drawings, paintings, and pastels by artist Edgar Degas, for a pitch-perfect blend of beautiful imagery and prose.

To Dance: A Ballerina’s Graphic Novel, by Siena Cherson Siegel
Siena was only six when she decided she wanted to become a ballerina. When a doctor told her that she had flat feet and could never be a dancer, she refused to give up on her dream. Her journey took her from Puerto Rico to Boston and beyond, and from a young girl to a young woman, as she dedicated herself to pursuing a career in ballet. The unusual graphic novel format is surprisingly well-suited to the story.

Ballet Shoes (Shoe Books series), by Noel Streatfeild
Originally published in 1936, Ballet Shoes tells the sweet story of three young orphans, Pauline, Petrova, and Posy, who each have very different talents. Pauline is an excellent actress, while Posy is a beautiful dancer. Petrova isn’t sure yet what she’d like to do, but she suspects she might enjoy being an airplane pilot! Follow these three enterprising young girls as they support each other, study theater and dance, and struggle to make a name for themselves in the world.

On Pointe, by Lori Ann Grover
The story of a dedicated young ballerina who takes ten years of lessons in an effort to be accepted into the City Ballet Company, On Pointe is told in verse by its protagonist, Clare, who narrates the often harrowing experiences and pressures of being a ballet dancer in gripping detail.

Put Your Best Foot Forward: A Young Dancer’s Guide to Life, by Suki Schorer
Written by a dancer who studied with the New York City Ballet and later became a teacher at the American School of Ballet, this guide teaches young girls that everything they learn in ballet class helps them succeed in life—and vice versa. A comprehensive, encouraging book for anyone who studies dance and dreams of a career in ballet.

The Only Boy in Ballet Class, by Denise Gruska
Tucker loves taking ballet lessons—but not everyone understands his devotion to dance. Many of the other children in school make fun of him, and his Uncle Frank thinks he should play football. One day the football team is short a player and Tucker is asked to sub in—what happens next will inspire and delight sports and dance aficionados alike!

Ballet for Drina (Drina series), by Jean Estoril
Ten-year-old Drina loves the ballet—she’s convinced that she simply must take dance lessons! But Drina’s grandparents, who have raised her ever since her parents died, disapprove of her chosen pursuit. Will Drina be able to convince them to support her passion—or will she be forced to pursue it on her own?

Ellie’s Chance to Dance (Royal Ballet School Diaries series), by Alexandra Moss
The first book of this series introduces Ellie Brown, a 10-year-old American girl living in London who has been studying ballet ever since she can remember. When her opportunity comes to audition for a spot with the Royal Ballet, Ellie must choose whether or not to seize it, even though it would mean living away from a mother who depends on her.

Plum Fantastic (Sugar Plum Ballerinas series), by Whoopi Goldberg & Deborah Underwood
Not every little girl dreams of being a ballerina—and definitely not Alexandrea. But her mother wants her to be a dancer so much, that she moves them from their small Georgia town to New York City’s Harlem so that Alexandrea can attend the renowned Nutcracker Ballet School. But, Alexandrea worries, what if she’s a terrible dancer? Both ballet enthusiasts and reluctant ballerinas will be able to relate to this smart, funny series.

What are some of your favorite books about dancing?

  • Joy

    I loved Dancer, by Colum McCann. It’s a slightly fictional spin on the life of Russian dancer Rudolf Nureyev.