Ballet Born Reading Bundle

oliviafairyDoes the kid in your life love ballet?

Last month, I read Ian Falconer’s Olivia and the Fairy Princesses at my daughter’s preschool. It is a fantastic book, introducing kids to independent thinking, modern dance and the work of dancer Martha Graham.

In a funny sequence of illustrations, the main character reenacts Graham’s famous dance, “Lamentation.” The kids acted out this dance as I read, discovering that dance is more than just ballerinas and fairy princesses.

When I finished reading the book, we turned to YouTube. Anytime the child in your life loves a book, you should check YouTube for interesting videos related to the story. It is a great chance to illustrate the constructive uses of Internet research and expand the reading experience. I call these combinations of books, digital tools and crafts Born Reading Bundles.

With a little help from an adult, kids can explore the work of Martha Graham on the video-sharing site. I showed the preschool class a video of “Lamentation,” complete with a Martha Graham interview.

I’ve embedded the video below so you can watch it yourself. If you want more ballet-related material, introduce Tchaikovsky’s great Swan Lake ballet.

We found The White Ballets by Rajka Kupesic at the library, a collection of three ballet stories with gorgeous painted illustrations.

Next, we used the free Spotify app to download “Swan Lake” retold by Ann Rachlin. The famous children’s storyteller has CDs, records and MP3 versions of many classic stories, so you can choose your favorite format.

Rachlin’s Swan Lake version includes both the story and the music for the ballet. It is the perfect way to introduce her to classical music and I got an education as well.

Once we learned about both the story and music, my daughter hosted a ballet show in our living room. We brought in her favorite stuffed animals, teaching them how to join the dance.

With a few flowing fabrics and simple dance moves, she turned Swan Lake into an entire experience…

FULL DISCLOSURE: Simon & Schuster published both “Born Reading: Bringing Up Bookworms in a Digital Age” and “Olivia and the Fairy Princesses.”

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