If You Liked “Tiny Pretty Things,” Explore Dance in YA Fiction

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If you’ve watched the Netflix series “Tiny Pretty Things,” about social drama at an elite ballet school, then read the 2015 book it was based on, by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton, read the sequel, “Shiny Broken Pieces,” then found “Pointe” by Brandy Colbert, a dark ballet story about a traumatized Black ballet dancer, and now want more stories of teenagers devoted to dance, this is the list for you.

While some of these books do feature ballet dancers, you will also find stories of Irish step dance, classical Indian dance, African dance and the early origins of tap dance. What they all have in common is the exploration of dance as a core part of self-identity for the characters.

The young people in these books see dancing as either a way to become vulnerable and bring up questions of who they are and who they’d like to become or have dance as an unquestioned all-important way of life that suddenly gets called into question.

You can also check out more books with characters who are artists, creators and performers on OverDrive/Libby and explore the Kids & Teens African American Booklists.

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Looking for a good book, album, movie or TV show? We’re happy to recommend them to you! Use this Personalized Recommendations form to send us some information about what you like and we’ll curate a list just for you.

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Barry Squires, Full Tilt (eBook)

It’s the mid 1990s in isolated Newfoundland, and a troupe of Irish Step Dancers is the most exciting thing Barry Squires has ever seen. He starts a journey to see if his captivation with dance will be enough to take him through the struggles of learning the steps and being taken seriously by his family. You can check out this title as eBook on OverDrive/Libby or as eAudio on OverDrive/Libby.

Bright Burning Stars

Kate and Marine, best friends and longtime students at the intensely competitive Paris Opera Ballet School, must decide what price they are willing to pay to win the only available spot in the professional ballet company that operates the school. You can also check out this title as eBook on OverDrive/Libby, as eBook on Hoopla or as eAudio on Hoopla.

Every Body Looking

Dance is where Ada can express everything in her life she can’t say with words. In her first year of college, away from home and its trauma, she begins to process her feelings about her family, religion and her self-identity. You can also check out this title as eBook on OverDrive/Libby or as eAudio on OverDrive/Libby


William Henry Lane, known by the stage name Master Juba, goes from the rough minstrel shows of New York in 1846 to performing in London with the Pell Serenaders to appreciative audiences. When the tour is over, Juba wants to stay where he can maintain a free life. You can also check out this title as eBook on Hoopla, as eAudio on Hoopla or as eAudio on OverDrive/Libby.

A Time To Dance

Veda, a prodigy of the dance form called Bharatanatyam, learns to work with her body and recover her dancing ability after an accident leads to part of her leg being amputated. Along the way she meets a boy who helps her to reconnect with the rest of the world.  

You in Five Acts

In their senior year, second semester of a prestigious New York City performing arts school, five friends face the pressure of leaving their safe world and finding their way as artists. You can also check out this title as eBook on OverDrive/Libby