Books for Ballet Lovers

My voice mail greeting explains to callers that I’m busy chasing ballerinas.

The ballerinas, however, say I got it wrong. They say they’re only ballet dancers. They say they aren’t yet worthy of the title of ballerina.

But then I say – as the dizzy one driving them around and around, dashing to and from the dance studio umpteen times a week for the last eight years, dashing off in search of yet another pair of tights, another pair of flats, or another tube of hair gel  – I say they’re mine. And if they look like ballerinas, I’ll call them ballerinas if I want to, thank-you-very-much!

Ballet is, of course, what they do when they aren’t reading, playing piano or drawing. They speak French terms to each other, they make lovely poses, and they then flutter gracefully across the kitchen floor, often counting to eight under their breath. “What was that?” I ask. I never pretend to understand it. But because they are 11 and 14 and still twirling around the house daily, it is ever-so precious to me, and I thank God for those moments.

Then onward to the dance studio I drive. I love to watch them practice when they invite me. It’s always lovely and beautiful and sometimes smells like sweaty feet. (But don’t tell the ballerinas I said that.) They work super hard, and then they smile big toothy smiles, move ever-so gracefully across the floor, and somehow make it look as though it’s not one bit of trouble.

Dancers inspire me. They remind me of the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 4:8, “…whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.”

Maybe you have a trained dancer in your family, too? Or a little girl pitter-pattering on tip-toe throughout your home? Or maybe a quiet girl who paints or writes or just daydreams of beautiful things? If so, grab this list of lovely books about ballet and twirl right on over to the library or bookstore!

Chasing Degas by Eva Montanari – This is a gorgeous picture book with a lively story and illustrations inspired by Impressionist paintings. Images of such paintings by Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas and others are included at the end.

I Dreamed I was a Ballerina by Anna Pavlova – Another beautiful picture book, published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, features Impressionist artwork by Edgar Degas and the words of prima ballerina Anna Pavlova (1881-1931). Pavlova is best known for her role as the Dying Swan in Camille Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals.

Ballet Spectacular by Lisa Miles – With breathtaking photographs, this book is a treasury of all things ballet – history, famous ballets, ballet school, life in a ballet company, and a glossary of ballet terms. It’s a lovely guide for young ladies interested in dance.

Tallulah’s Tutu, Tallulah’s Solo, Tallulah’s Toe Shoes, Tallulah’s Tap Shoes and Tallulah’s Nutcracker by Marilyn Singer and Alexandra Boiger – Sweet illustrations with a bit of sparkle make this delightful series of five easy picture books just perfect for little girls. Simply adorable.

The Barefoot Book of Ballet Stories by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple – This is a stunning treasury of captivating ballet stories along with thorough details about each dance and a concise history of classical ballet.

A Child’s Introduction to Ballet by Laura Lee – Ideal for younger readers, this book includes simple illustrations and ballet stories along with a music CD featuring a track for each story. It also has a glossary of ballet terms.

Ballerina Dreams: From Orphan to Dancer by Michaela DePrince and Elaine DePrince – With easy text and a mix of illustrations and photos, this autobiography features the endearing story of Michaela DePrince, a well-known ballet dancer who starred in the 2011 documentary First Position. This is a Step-into-Reading Level 4 book.

The Nutcracker Ballet retold by Deborah Hautzig – Easy text and sweet illustrations make this a great fit for beginning readers. It is a Step-into-Reading Level 3 book.

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild – First published in 1937, this chapter book relays the charming story of three orphans in England who become part of the Children’s Academy of Dancing and Stage Training.

Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild – This chapter book is an interesting tale about two orphaned sisters involved in theatre and the Royal Ballet. It was first published in 1957.

Happy reading!







Resolution: To Pray Better for My Kids

One of my all-time favorite verses is Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”


I memorized this verse when I was expecting my firstborn, and reciting it brought great peace through some big challenges I faced right before my bundle of joy arrived. Six years later, I can’t count the times this verse has brought peace in all sorts of situations as a mother.


Whether our children are still in the womb, asleep upstairs or all grown up and living half-way around the world, we moms and dads are frequently tempted to be anxious about our children. But then what an opportunity we have to meditate on biblical truths as we pray God’s Word, the sword of the Spirit, to fight for our children!


If we want to experience the joy of watching our children walk in the truth, we must pray for them, says Pastor John Piper of Desiring God Ministries ( Watching your children walk away from the truth, he adds, is crushing.


“To lay hold on this joy and to prevent this pain, we must pray daily (sometimes hourly) and earnestly for our children,” Piper says.


Desiring God offers this list of seven things to pray for your children. My goal is to pray through these each week for both of my daughters.


1. Pray that Jesus will call them and no one will hinder them from coming. “Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away.” (Matthew 19:13-15)


2. Pray that they will respond in faith to Jesus’ faithful, persistent call. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)


3. Pray that they will experience sanctification through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit and will increasingly desire to fulfill the greatest commandments. “And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” (Matthew 22:37-39)


4. Pray that they will not be unequally yoked in intimate relationships, especially marriage. “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)


5. Pray that their thoughts will be pure. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8 ) 


6. Pray that their hearts will be stirred to give generously to the Lord’s work. “All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the Lord had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the Lord.” (Exodus 35:29)


7. Pray that when the time is right, they will go! “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ ” (Matthew 28:18-20)


Also, not too long ago one of my best friends forwarded this list of 12 petitions to pray for children; specific verses accompany each petition. The instructions suggested praying for one petition each month so that, after a year, you’ll have thoroughly prayed for each petition. If you memorize the verses as you pray, you’ll also have a great stash of biblical truth to draw on in times of trouble or need.


Below is the list of petitions to pray for your children and references for the corresponding verses. I looked up each of the verses and wrote them down in a handy spiral-bound book of index cards to review as I pray.


Here are 12 more ways to pray for your children:


1. Pray that they will know Christ as Savior early in life. (Psalm 63:1 and 2 Timothy 3 :15)


2. Pray that they will have a hatred for sin. (Psalm 97:10)


3. Pray that they will be caught when guilty. (Psalm 119:71)


4. Pray that they will be protected from evil in each area of their lives: spiritual, emotional, physical. (John 17:15)


5. Pray that they will have a responsible attitude in all their interpersonal relationships. (Daniel 6:3)


6. Pray that they will respect those in authority over them. (Romans 13:1)


7. Pray that they will desire the right kinds of friends and be protected from the wrong friends. (Proverbs 1:10-14)


8. Pray that they will be kept from the wrong mate and saved for the right one.  (2 Corinthians 6:14-17)


9. Pray that they, as well as those they marry, will be kept pure until marriage. (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)


10. Pray that they will learn to totally submit to God and actively resist Satan in all circumstances. (James 4:7)


11. Pray that they will be single-hearted, willing to be sold out to Jesus Christ. (Romans 12:1-2)


12. Pray that they will be hedged in so they cannot find their way to wrong people or wrong places and that the wrong people cannot find their way to them. (Hosea 2:6)