Most little girls will go through either a ballet stage or a horses stage, some both. For me, I was a ballet girl, through and through and Christmas season meant one thing to 5 year old me: The Nutcracker!
I would put on my leotard, tutu and slippers and begin twirling harry-carry around the living room to the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies.
I never really knew the story of The Nutcracker though, I knew the music, but could not have told you what was happening in the scene during any particular song. I would have loved to have one of these versions of the classic tale available to me as a ballet-loving kid.
The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers is great, easy to read and share aloud picture book version of the classic tale. This book is perfect for young audiences who don't have the patience to sit through the whole ballet, or as a short introduction to kids about to attend their very first performance.
The Nutcracker by Eyewitness Classics is a great one for older kids who want to go more in depth into the story, the ballet and its history. The book features the full (long version) story as well as great pictures and side bars with non-fiction information about everything from historical nutcrackers to German Christmas traditions to the Russian premiere of Tchaikovsky's ballet.
Last but not least The Nutcracker by Janet Schulman is a well-illustrated picture book, but more importantly it comes with a read-along CD that features music from the ballet.
If you have kids that love to dance this is a great excuse to expose them to classical music and ballet. There are many excellent and easily available recordings of Tchaikovsky's score - check one out at your local library or invest in your own copy. Crank the music and get your dance on! You can act out scenes from the story together, or just enjoy moving around to the melody.