From Page to Stage: How Children’s Books Inspire Creative Movement

It’s Children’s Book Week from 13-17 November

To celebrate, we asked Brian Madigan of Dance Notes to talk about how movement & children’s books can go so well together.

“What better way can there be to celebrate Children’s Book Week than to get physical and allow the narratives to inspire creative movement? Children’s books are full of wonderful imaginary worlds, vivid characters and crazy situations. All of which are ideal stimuli for generating dance ideas.

Make a Move practitioner and regular Dance Notes contributor Kara Herbert has been creating lesson schemes for Key Stages 1 and 2 that take their inspiration directly from popular classroom reads.

Her lesson ‘Dragons – Zog’ introduces themes and ideas from the book ‘Zog’, which the children then interpret through their own movement ideas.

Reading together, then enacting motifs and freezes based on the text, is an excellent way for pupils to really connect with a story. They will be keen to find out what happens next and come up with their own ideas based on what they have read.*

And this is key to successful movement work at primary level. The pupils should ideally generate all the moves and shapes themselves, responding to stimuli and structure provided by the teacher.

For many teachers, the idea of teaching dance can be quite daunting. However, using this method, you need only provide the same encouragement and framework as you would for any subject. Taking ownership of their work allows pupils to engage fully with the subject and gain a sense of pride in their collective achievements.

It is wonderful to see how the written word can not only fire the imagination of young pupils but allow them to physically express the ideas this generates. What is also especially valuable about dance as a learning tool is that it allows children to go beyond the written word. The text is just a starting point; where this takes them is only limited by their own imaginations. And, as we all know, children’s imaginations know few limitations!”

*Kara has also created plans based on Alice in Wonderland and Penguin Small, whilst Make a Move CEO Michelle Rochester has used Where the Wild Things Are as stimulus for a lesson scheme and Tracy Challenor has created a Chocolate-themed plan that also references Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. Other book-based lessons are in the planning. If you have a favourite book that you think may lend itself to a dance scheme, then do get in touch. We are always looking for new ideas and encourage suggestions from classroom teachers.

Brian Madigan headshotBrian Madigan
Founder/Composer Dance Notes


Children’s Book Week website.

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