Dance ideas to celebrate Book Week in your classroom.

Are you looking for ways to celebrate Book Week in your Primary classroom?  Have you ever thought about using dance to explore your student’s celebration of literacy.

As a young mother I was particularly enthusiastic about creating costumes for my children for Book Week.  Probably more than they were!  As a teacher, I often used dance to link with the Book Week theme or to link to the characters that the children in my class were crazy about.

book week dance

Dance can be a joyful, creative, and insightful way of exploring the characters that your children are most interested in for Book Week.  It can also be a way of expanding existing descriptive vocabulary and showing how narratives are an important part of many dance works.

Using dance to support literacy is a great way to support creativity in your classroom.  Many teachers use books as a stimulus for dance activities


Twenty-first century students learn as much or more about literacy outside of school living in an aesthetic, technological, and designed world, as they do in school through traditional literacies such as reading, writing, speaking, and listening (Gee, 2004).                         In Dancing literacy: Expanding children’s and teachers’ literacy repertoires through embodied knowing. (Leonard, Hall Herro 2015)

Book week in the Primary Classroom

Around the world books are celebrated on different days but most countries encourage children to dress as their favourite character.  It is a week where literacy and the joy of a good story is celebrated.

In Australia, Children’s Book Council of Australia Book Week was first introduced in 1945. Responding to a lack of children’s literature by Australian authors, it established a platform for stories for children.


In America, Children’s Book Week, began in 1913 to promote high standards in children’s books.  Today it is celebrated in two separate weeks across the year.  It symbolizes the countries dedication to reading and includes a range of activities that let children discover and share a love of reading.


World Book Day is also celebrated by 100 countries and is supported by UNESCO. It is focused on providing an opportunity for every child to own a book.


Regardless of where you live, books are an essential part of everybody’s Primary classroom. Here are a few ways you could incorporate dance into your celebration of books and the power of reading.

book week dance

Exploring Characters through dance

Explore the character you have come to school as through movement.  Use the Dance Elements to portray your character.  Are they a good friend?  Is their character a hero or a villain?  Are they powerful or gentle and quiet.

Create a dance with a partner about your two characters meeting.  What would be the differences/similarities?  How would you communicate through movement? For example,  The Very Hungry Caterpillar meets The Gruffalo.

Write down your characters best features and then create a movement for each one, join them together and perform to music.

Expanding Descriptive Vocabulary

Describe how your character would move. Write next to the description which Dance Elements you would use to represent that description.  Then explore the movement.

In groups of four create a dance that tells the story of a book you have read this year.  Begin by dividing the story into four sections. How did you decide which parts of the story were the most important?  Remember that the audience should be able to follow the main points of the narrative.

Creating movement through description is another way that you can link even very young children to the ways of telling stories through dance.

Linking Books with Dance

Research how many different musicals have been based on books. For example, West Side Story (Romeo and Juliet), Mary Poppins.

Find a ballet based on book and explore as a class how the narrative is different and the same.  Why is the ballet narrative different from the book? For example, Alice in Wonderland

book week dance

Dance and books

There are many ways you can use dance to explore books.  Celebrate the rich depth of storytelling by using creative ways to discover more about the children’s favourite characters.

Support literacy and dance literacy through the narratives of the many wonderful children’s stories.  Dance become part of the process through which children discover the joy of books.