Great Books for Narrative Pantomime
Updated July 2014
Compiled by Jane M. Gangi, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Education
Division of Education
Mount Saint Mary College
After sharing the story, or doing a picture walk, children can enact parts of the story as a narrative pantomime, which invites interpretation through movement. Model how you as the narrator read the story outloud, while children pantomime as you read, either by themselves, in partners, or in groups. Teach the children by modeling how to run in place.
Ancona, George. (2007). Capoeira. New York, NY: Lee & Low. The Brazilian folk mix of karate-like moves and dance.
Argueta, Jorge, & Gloria Calderón (Illus.). (2003). Zipitio. Toronto, Canada: Groundwood. A Pipil/Nahua folkloric story; the parts where Rufina encounters the Zipitio can be narrated as two actor-partners pantomime the events.
Barasch, Lynne. (2004). Knockin’ on wood starring Peg Leg Bates. New York, NY: Lee & Low. Much opportunity for movement in this picture book biography.
Berkes, Marianne, & Jill Dubin (Illus.). (2008). Over in the Arctic where the cold winds blow. Nevada City, CA: Dawn. Recommended by Lindsay Panko for its action words.
Bruchac, Joseph, James Bruchac, & Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey (Illus.). (2003). Turtle’s race with Beaver: A Traditional Seneca Story. New York, NY: Dial. Lots of opportunity for narrative pantomime.
Burton, Marilee Robin, & James E. Ransome (Illus.). (1994). My best shoes. New York, NY: Tambourine.
Crowe, Ellie, & Richard Waldrep (Illus.). (2007). Surfer of the century. New York. NY: Lee & Low. Passages about Duke Kahanamoku’s swimming and surfing can be adapted to narrative pantomime.
Daugherty, James. (1938). Andy and the lion. New York, NY: Viking. In partners, one is Andy, the other the lion. Practice roaring without making a sound, and remind children that when the lion licks Andy’s face, we won’t really do it. Eliminate the word “queer,” as the connotation in the 21st century is different than in 1938.
Fernandes, Eugenie. (2011). Kitten’s winter. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press. Great for rhyming, and an introduction to many animals.
Forman, Ruth, & Cbabi Bayoc (Illus.). (2007). Young cornrows callin out the moon. San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book Press. The part on skipping rope, can be enacted, with children’s contributions elicited. The book can help build phonemic awareness, and validate the urban child’s experience.
González, Rigoberto, & Rosa Ibarra (Illus.). (2003). Soledad Sigh-Sighs/Soledad Surpiros. San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book Press. About a latchkey kid, the parts where Soledad imagines a little sister can be pantomimed, with all children parallel simultaneously playing Soledad.
Hayes, Joe, & Antonio Castro L. (Illus.). (2006). The gum chewing rattler. El Paso, TX: Cinco Puntos. In partners, one plays the boy, the other the rattlesnake. This one is especially useful in helping with transitions, as everybody gets knocked out at the end.
Hjemboe, Karen, & Anthony Chee Emerson (Illus.). My horse. Recommend by Lindsay Panko.
Igus, Toyomi. 1998. i see the rhythm. Illustrated by Michele Wood. San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book Press. Consider bringing in the various kinds of music (jazz, blues, etc.)
Keeler, Patricia A., Júlio T. Leitão, & Patricia A. Keeler (Illus.). (2006). Drumbeat in our feet. New York, NY: Lee & Low.
Pérez, Amada Irma, & Maya Christina Gonzalez (Illus.). (2000). My very own Room/Mi propio cuartito. San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book Press. The work it takes to create “my very own room” can be pantomimed.
Reid, Rob, & Lorraine Williams (Illus.). (1996). Wave goodbye. New York, NY: Lee & Low. For young children.
Robles, Anthony D., & Carl Angel (Illus.). (2003). Lakas and the Manilatown Fish/Si Lakas at ang Isdang Manilatown (Eloisa D. de Jesus and Magdalena de Guzman, trans.). San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book Press. Pantomime the actions of Lakas and the fish. Readers theater adaptation is available at http://www.cbookpress.org.
Ryan, Cheli, & Arnold Lobel (Illus.). (1971). Hildilid’s night. New York: Macmillan. A solo narrative pantomime, Hildilid does all kinds of active things to get rid of the night.
Schubert, Leda, & Gérard DuBois (Illus.). (2012). Monsieur Marceau: Actor without words. New York, NY: Roaring Brook, 2012. Children can mime what Marceau mimes in the book.
Smalls-Hector, Irene, & Michael Hays (Illus.). (1992). Jonathan and his mommy. Boston, MA: Little, Brown. Jonathan and his mommy walk all kinds of ways through their city.
Smith, Cynthia Leitich (Muscogee), & Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu (Illus.). (2000). Jingle dancer. New York, NY: Morrow. Jenna plays and videotape to practice dance steps for the powwow.
Taylor, Debbie A., & Frank Morrison (Illus.). (2004). Sweet music in Harlem. New York, NY: Lee & Low.
Velasquez, Eric. (2001). Grandma’s records. New York: Walker.
Wild, Margaret. (2007). Bobbie Dazzler. La Jolla, CA: Kane/Miller. Orignially published in Australia in 2006. Bobbie wants to do the splits and can’t, but he knows how to jump, bounce, skip, hop on her toes, whirl, twirl, stand on her head, do hand springs, do somersaults, and slide. It’s when she slides that she slides into the splits—and can’t get up. (In the narrative pantomime you may want to omit standing on head and doing handsprings.)
Woodson, Jacqueline, & E. B. Lewis (Illus.). (2001). The other side. New York, NY: Putnam. The nonverbal communication between the two girls—one white, one black—can be explored.