Books in Motion: DANCE + LITERACY

Promoting literacy through dance and the arts for children, K-3rd grade.

A fundraising campaign for Kern Dance Alliance

Books in Motion is a pilot program that links dance and literacy by focusing on Common Core Standards for Reading Literature for children, K-3rd.  In collaboration with the Kern County Library, Barnes and Noble, and Kern Literacy Council, families will have the opportunity to visit Kern County library branches and watch a dance performances based upon a well-known children’s book. Post-performance, children will engage in kinesis by learning choreography and will create a craft that coincides with the book’s theme. At the culmination of the session, children will be divided into groups based upon age/level and posed questions to evaluate their comprehension. Lastly, children will be able to take their own copy of the book home.  Books in Motion is offered for FREE to all participants.

Books in Motion is an hour-long program featuring story-telling, performance, choreography, and crafting.

  • Books in Motion Narration + Performance –  Children are invited to sit back and listen to the narration of a well-known children’s book while viewing an accompanying dance performance.
  • Dance – Children will learn a dance from experienced dancers based upon the Books in Motion text. They will learn a dancer’s warm up and stretching routine, and choreography reflecting the Books in Motion text/theme. Kinesthetic learning, attitude, confidence, teamwork, and dedication will be emphasized.
  • Small Group Crafting – Children will join volunteers to create customized crafts corresponding to their grade level and the Books in Motion text. Children and guardians are encouraged to work together, engage in creativity, and produce a product reflecting the session’s teachings.
  • Evaluation – Children will be divided into groups based upon grade level.  Children will be prompted to answer questions and details about the Books in Motion text, perform the official Books in Motion choreography, and provide reflection upon the sessions teachings.  An exit survey for children will provide quantitative and qualitative data about the success of Books in Motion.

Books in Motion Goals:

  • Create motivation and interest in reading
  • Create motivation and encouragement for movement through dance
  • Cover Common Core State Standards in Reading Literature for grades K-3rd grade
  • Instill a sense of connection and ownership of reading through listening and viewing of well-known stories
  • Reinforce Common Core Standards through kinetic learning
  • Support literacy development through unified thematic experience of art craft, dance movement, and story-telling

Books in Motion is a program geared for young students in the early literacy stages.  These students are in the pre-reading, pre-decoding, decoding, and early emergent reading stages.  This program is designed to tap into their imagination and encourage them to continue to read books.  For some students, reading is a very difficult concept that is still too foreign and out of reach to understand due to age and brain development.  Books in Motion will bypass this intangible feeling for children by allowing them to see the magic of a book laid out on a stage with real characters coming to life through movement.  Children do not have to read words to read- they can read the dancers’ movements.  By tapping into curiosity, children will be motivated to explore literacy, which leads them back to the written words that brought the book to life.  The goal of Books in Motion is to allow every young child the opportunity to read, even if you cannot read the words, you can read through movement. Research shows that kinesthetic learning is a highly effective tool not utilized enough in the traditional classroom.  As evident by the KDA SHINE for Girls: MATH + DANCE = SUCCESS program, dance can be successful in teaching complicated applications, from math to reading.

Learning how to read begins at birth and continues through 3rd grade.  Once a child enters 4th grade, studies show that those that are not proficient readers will find difficulty in adjusting to complicated English, Grammar, and Literature applications.  Children begin to read by learning the sounds of spoken word.  They begin to understand written language when they are read to, and their comprehension of reading and writing is increased upon entering a formalized education (K-3rd).

Studies also show that not every child learns at the same pace, nor in the same manner; therefore, offering multiple ways to grasp educational applications is necessary for the growth of every child.  Books in Motion will provide a visual, aural, verbal, and physical (kinesis) opportunity to engage in literacy. By utilizing kinesis, movement and action replaces more passive forms of learning, such as listening to a lecture. We have all forgotten facts once memorized in a classroom, but we seem to be able to remember dance moves we once learned. By connecting the different ways in which we learn, Books in Motion enables effective understanding and retention of information in addition to infusing abstract literacy concepts with a physical meaning. Because movement allows a student an alternative approach to the information, students learn when they are receptive.

Locally, only 28% of Kern County 3rd graders meet or exceed grade level standards for English Language Arts (Ca Assessment of Student Performance and Progress 2014-15). 15% of Kern County adults have not attained a 9th grade literacy level (US Census Bureau, 2010). 13.9% of Kern County adults lack the basic literacy skills necessary to perform daily job functions (US Census Bureau, 2010), and 16.2% Kern County adults over 25 years are high school dropouts (CA. Dept. of Education, 2014).   Books in Motion was conceived to assist in combatting these dismal numbers. Providing a free, hands-on, innovative approach to assisting children with their literacy journey is the main objective.  According to the Kern Literacy Council, one of the top factors for predicting school success for students is to increase the number of spoken words for children in early childhood.  Books in Motion celebrates the opportunity to increase accessibility to literacy and the arts, while also focusing on the 34% of Kern County residents that do not have an income sufficient to meet basic needs and whose children growing up in these low-income households hear approximately 30 million fewer words by the time they reach their fourth birthday (Report on the Status of Women + Girls in Kern County 2015).

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About the Organization

Kern Dance Alliance is a nonprofit dance advocacy organization supporting and promoting dance + the arts in Kern County, Ca.