Dancers from all over Kern County have been inspiring kids to read by bringing books to life through dance. The program called "Books in Motion", designed to combine dance and literacy together, is in its second year and was created by the Kern Dance Alliance.
In collaboration with the Kern County Library, Kern Literacy Council, and Barnes and Noble, families had an opportunity to see performances and participate in the activities at Kern County library branches and Barnes and Noble.
Dancer's Turnout Academy is just one of the partners in this program that has reached more than 860 children and their families. Dancers from this studio took Dino Dancing by Lisa Wheeler off the shelf to perform around Kern County this summer.
The books that are chosen are not just any books; they meet the Common Core State Standards for reading literature for kindergarten through third grade.
"Research shows that if children don't meet certain benchmarks by second grade regarding reading and comprehension, they most likely will become high school dropouts," said Andrea Hansen, the president of Kern Dance Alliance.
The "Books in Motion" program is broken into four parts. First, dancers will perform to the narration of the book, second, they teach the kids in the audience dance, themed arts, and crafts activity, then follow that. Before the kids leave, they are asked to fill out a small assessment to see how much the kids learned and retained about the book.
"What we know about children today is that they are not all the same learners. They all learn in various types of ways. And what dance does is it learns through kinesthetic learning, and that's learning through the body. Some children learn by hearing, learn my seeing, but many children learn hands-on and need more of tactile experience," said Hansen.
The program not only helps the children in the audience but gives dancers a chance to give back to the community by using their talents.
Romy Hernandez, one of the dinosaur dancers from Dancer's Turnout Academy,' who has been dancing since 18 months-old said, "I've learned that I love to teach kids to dance and the choreography. It's so cool to see them do it."
Myka Steele, a 16-year-old dancer, also loves to teach dance, "It's really neat to teach kids to dance through action and moving, and I think it's a great way to visualize what we are doing. And hear audio of the book and I love working with kids."
According to the 2018 "Books in Motion" report, dancers have been able to make a difference in the community:
- 866 Children + Families Reached
- 367 FREE Books Provided
- 326 Completed Assessments
- 43 Dancers
- 20 Performances
- 13 Library Branch Performance Locations
- 1 Barnes and Noble Performance Location
Hansen said she is grateful for the community's support and the generous sponsors that made the whole program possible. The sponsors include Chevron, The Junior League of Bakersfield, Terr-Gen Wind and Power, Arts Council of Kern, Cynthia Lake Charitable Trust, and the Bakersfield Californian Foundation.