Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Book to Boogie: Ninja!

Book to Boogie is a monthly series that pairs picture books with dance and movement activities for preschool story time. The series is curated by Kerry Aradhya of Picture Books & Pirouettes and written by a different guest writer each month. We hope that children’s librarians, as well as classroom teachers and dance educators, will find these activities useful and fun!

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by Julie Dietzel-Glair

Being a ninja requires a special costume (dad’s tie), an unbreakable rope (jump rope), and the ability to sneak down hallways, defeat beasts (the family dog), and hide in jungles (house plants). This ninja’s mission? To steal his little sister’s milk and cookies without being dishonored. And if at first he doesn’t succeed, he can always train a sidekick.

Ninja! by Arree Chung is packed with action in comic book style panels. Dark tones add to the sense of mystery and stealth while bright colors enhance the young ninja’s fearless acts. A golden, fiery dragon intensifies the imaginative stunts. Speech bubbles add opportunities for expressive reading. Pre-readers will be able to enjoy this book on their own by telling the story through the illustrations.

Movement Ideas

After reading the book all the way through, read it a second time and act out the ninja’s feats together. Obviously, some of this ninja’s antics are unrealistic and dangerous (it’s unadvisable to use a jump rope to swing from a ceiling fan). However, you can sneak, creep, hide, tumble, and run fast on your feet. You can add props to conquer a dangerous stuffed dog. You can hide behind house plants. And, of course, you can eat cookies and drink milk.

Being a ninja requires many physical skills. Luckily, Jim Gill has written a song that includes a variety of movements that can help little ninjas hone those skills. Play Jim Gill’s “List of Dances” (you can find a YouTube version below) and improve upon your ability to stand tall, creep, jump, tiptoe, and more.

Lastly, create an obstacle course for little ninjas to complete before getting their milk and cookies. Ideas from the book include tumbling on a gym mat (or carpet), pulling a large stuffed animal, climbing under a tunnel of chairs, and balancing on a line of tape on the floor. Feel free to add your own obstacle ideas with any supplies you have on hand.

Be sure to look for Ninja, Ninja, Never Stop! by Todd Tuell and Tad Carpenter, and Arree Chung’s next adventure, Ninja! Attack of the Clan (due out in June 2016).


JDG HeadshotJulie Dietzel-Glair is a freelance writer and library consultant. Before entering her freelance career, she worked in Maryland public libraries for 11 years, first as a children’s librarian and then as an assistant children’s services coordinator. She is the author of Books in Motion: Connecting Preschoolers with Books through Art, Games, Movement, Music, Playacting and Props (ALA Neal-Schuman, 2013) and co-author of Get Real with Storytime: 52 Weeks of Early Literacy Programming with Nonfiction and Poetry (Libraries Unlimited, 2015). She is active in the Association for Library Service to Children, the Children’s Services Division of the Maryland Library Association, and Capitol Choices. You can find out more about Julie at or follow her on Twitter @JulieDGWrites.

from Library as Incubator Project

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