TRC Read to Kids

Welcome to The Reading Connection’s blog, where you’ll find the best guidance on reading aloud to kids. Whether you are a TRC Read-Aloud volunteer, parent or student, the book themes and crafts ideas, child development guidelines and recommended websites will expand your world. For 25 years, The Reading Connection has worked to improve the lives of at-risk kids by linking the magic of reading to fun experiences that inspire a passion for learning. Visit our website at

Monday, February 3, 2014

Get up and dance!

When dealing with squirmy kids, sometimes the best move is just to get up and move with them! A dance-themed Read-Aloud is a wonderful choice -- dancing is a healthy, fun activity and there are great books available about dance, music and movement with which to create a dance-themed Read-Aloud. 

Teams at ARHA Ruby Tucker Center and Virginia Gardens recently held dance-themed Read-Alouds. Each team brought in special guests to introduce new dance styles to the kids.

At ARHA, Team 4 began its dance day with a participatory song about Miss Susie. The singing and hand movements grabbed the children’s attention right away and led into a successful reading time. Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae and Elephants Cannot Dance! by Mo Willems set the stage by presenting two characters (both, oddly, named Gerald!) who believed they could not dance, but discovered they really could. 

ARHA was lucky to have Katy Baytosh, a guest dance instructor, who led everyone through several African- and Caribbean-style dances. The children were excited, engaged and excellent dancers. And the volunteers got a bit of a workout too!

Virginia Gardens volunteers invited special guests from Tobas Dinastía, a local dance group. “Tobas” is an energetic dance that originates from Bolivia and represents the victory of the hunt. The dancers wear colorful, exotic costumes – including feathered headdresses and spears. The volunteers talked with the kids about the importance of dance in different cultures and gave examples of ways it can be used to honor cultural heritage. The team also   read books that highlighted culturally significant dances. The guests performed Tobas for the children and then taught them some steps. A highlight of the night was when the kids were allowed to touch the dancers’ spears (fake, of course!) and  wear their headdresses. 

Dance is universal. As a theme, it offers opportunities to express emotions, social interaction and cultural pride – and even get the squirmies out! 

Here is a list of books that would work well for a Read-Aloud about dance.  
Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae
Kitchen Dance by Maurie J. Manning
Song and Dance Man by Karen Ackerman
Brothers of the Knight by Debbie Allen
Dance! by Elisha Cooper
Rosie’s Ballet Slippers by Susan Hampshire
Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle
Cats’ Night Out by Caroline Stutson
Dumpy La Rue by Elizabeth Winthrop

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