Connecting Literature and Dance

Bringing literature and dance together is an excellent starting place for cross-curricular learning!

Throughout the year, our Community Dance teachers have highlighted some of their favourite books and shared how they use them to support movement activities. Check out some of their suggestions below and share them with young dancers in your life!

Title: The Same But Different Too
Author: Karl Newson
Recommended for: Primary Grades
The Same But Different Too by Karl Newson is an engaging book exploring individuality and camaraderie. Through inspiration from the descriptive language and playful images, the teacher can lead the class through a series of patterning activities for each page. An example from the book, "I'm above and you're below, I am fast and you're slow," would be a perfect phrase to explore both locomotor and stationary patterns.

Title: The Word Collector
Author: Peter H. Reynolds
Recommended for: Primary Grades
The Word Collector is the story of a young man named Jerome who has a passion for words. He gathers words that spark his imagination and, as he journeys, he begins to understand that his collection allows him to share what he is thinking, feeling and dreaming. This book is an excellent option for a dance unit as it includes descriptive words (spark, bloom) and creates natural opportunities for rhythm by highlighting the syllables of words (candid, kaleidoscope). Jerome uses his words to write poems and make songs – and it is only logical that the next step is to dance!

Title: Once In A Blue Moon
Author: Danielle Daniel
Recommended for: Primary Grades
Once in a Blue Moon by Danielle Daniel is a collection of short poems that explore different experiences. The book uses beautiful movement-based words that support kids in dancing along with the story. The book talks about how every experience is special in its own way. The images accentuate the story, making this book suitable for younger readers and dancers. It discusses both the most exciting of the Once in a Blue Moon events as well as simple ones, all while teaching children the magical wonders of nature, and helping them further understand and interact with the environment around them.

Title: Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock
Author: Dallas Hunt
Recommended for: Junior Grades
This book brings the reader into Cree Traditions through language and food, and connects us to the importance of collaboration and seeking guidance from one’s community. The main character, Awâsis, is supported by a number of animal friends as she seeks ingredients for her Kôhkum’s world-famous bannock. To bring movement to the story, ask students to explore the movement qualities each of the creatures shares with Awâsis, mapping her journey through the story. The recipes provide a special touch to the story!

Title: "In My Heart"
Author: Jo Witek
Recommended for: Primary Grades
In My Heart by Jo Witek is a charming book that encourages the readers and dancers to reflect on the many different emotions we experience. Through inspiration from both the images and the descriptive language, teachers can lead their students through a series of dances for each emotion. Exploring different instrumentation for each emotion such as violin for "sad" and drums for "angry" helps dancers feel the difference of energy in their body. This book is excellent for primary grades that are focusing on mindfulness and emotional regulation.

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