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My Mama Had a Dancing Heart
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My Mama Had a Dancing Heart

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  246 ratings  ·  40 reviews
A ballet dancer recalls how she and her mother would welcome each season with a dance outdoors.
Paperback, 32 pages
Published September 1st 1999 by Scholastic Inc. (first published 1990)
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Alise Durkota
My Mama Had a Dancing Heart is a poetic memoir about a young girls mother and the adventures that they had together as the seasons changed. She provides great example of craft as she creates adjectives using hyphens. This could be used as an example for students as they learn to read as writers and glean ideas from other authors. It also rhymes and could be used to practice rhyming. I suppose that if a stuent had a loss, it would provide a way for a teacher to interject some comfort to the stude ...more
Gorgeous, whimsical, free-spirited artistry accompanies this lyrically expressive verse. Enjoyed being immersed in the care-less utopia of the mother-daughter relationship. Made me want to cultivate a "dancing heart".
Tori Biles
This is an inspirational story of a daughter and her mother. It showed the positive influence this girl's mother had on her life and how she took that influence and made a life out of it. It stars and ends in the same way, which I think is a good way for children to see what the author was trying to get across. I think kids will like the fun and flowing illustrations that fill practically the whole page. I also think that it would get them, maybe more older children, thinking on their mothers an ...more
McKenna Crimmins
I really enjoyed this book because the writing was very descriptive and included a lot of detail about how each new season the mom and daughter would go outside and celebrate the changing of the new seasons. The pictures were very happy and made me think of a calm yet excited state of mind. The story made me realize how important it is to have a close relationship with family and how much impact each day with your loved ones has. I thought this book was entertaining and should be read more often ...more
Sometimes you just need to cut loose. That is what brought me to this book. Feeling a need to read aloud to my students, I just grabbed this off the bookshelf. I read it cold. Teachers aren't supposed to do that, but I'm shaking up my routines. :)

This was better than my initial reaction was. The rhythmic nature of the text takes the reader on a woman's reminiscence of her youth. Her mother had a "dancing heart" and led her to joyous adventures. Balanced in tales of the four seasons, this story p
The text carries me to the five stars, although I'm not particularly drawn to the illustrations. Many wonderful phrases: "...when the waves would come plash-splashing..." and "...a tip-tapping song-singing finger-snapping kind of day..." that take us from the childhood to the adult who has become a dancer. Lovely.
Scott Houston
When I read this text it was touching to see the lessons the narrator's mother taught her being upheld despite her passing on. I would use this book in classroom instruction to ask students some of the lessons or experiences they have had with their parents, with the end goal being to ask them what those lessons and experiences have done for their life. I would recommend this book for classroom instruction because it models initiative in students, in that the main character became a great dancer ...more
Jason Griffith
Beautiful illustrations and effective at showing how a parent's passion can translate to a child.
This was my niece's assigned reading for the summer before 1st grade at girls' school.
Shelbi Bishop
With the wonderful writing in this book, Libba Moore Gray paints a wonderful mind picture about the seasons.

With this book, you could do a choral read by providing copies of the text to the students. Then the students could write down their favorite line of the text on to a sentence strip (limiting their choice to a maximum of about 15 words) and then use the words to create a poem. You could also incorporate movement into the activity by having the students put movements to the poem.
Heather Rodriguez
The beautiful language of the book was useful in teaching word choice to my fourth graders. The sequencing and parallelism was also significant. However, I enjoyed it even more as a daughter and a mother; it was a poetic reminder of the strength and influence our relationships can have when they're open, genuine, and sincere. The artistry of the book reinforces that time and experiences together create the background knowledge and security that are forever meaningful to our kids.
Meghan Brigan
My Mama Had a Dancing Heart is a beautiful story of a mother instilling the love of dance in her daughter. Every season mother and daughter would dance to celebrate the changes taking place in nature. The combination of words are catchy and fun. This book is for children age four and up. It is a traditional story of a mom who had a grand impact on her daughters life. The rthym of the words makes me want to dance. It also makes me think of all the traits my mother gave me.
The words in this book are beautiful! I can see this book being used for so many thing in the classroom. The book creates strong mental images that could be used for visualization. I can also see this book being used as a model for a mini lesson on using descriptive verbs to strengthen students' writing. It's also a great read aloud book and I can't wait to read it in my own classroom. This book would be great for the make-a-scene strategy as well.
Ann Marie
The language in this book is vivid and wonderfully specific. I used it to teach a writing lesson today that encouraged students to use alliteration, hyphenated adjectives (i.e. toe-tapping), and strong verbs in their own writing pieces. It's a solid book that merits repeated readings. I placed it in my "Read Alouds" bin in class and I think it will be a title that the students enjoy revisiting.
Courtney Sharpton
Katie Wood Ray talks about this book so highly in her book that I had to read it. I loved it! I had a personal connection with the book, however I loved the work craft Gray uses here. It is really beautiful and unexpected and I will definitely use this in my classroom to encourage students to think of new ways to words things.
Beautiful illustrations, word rhythm and conversation book. It was recommended to me and I subsequently purchased it as a gift to a classroom: a classroom whose children's lives don't include cultural events such as ballet. I particularly like that it shows the connection between a type of dance and the rhythms of life.
A ballet dancer recalls how she and her mother would welcome each season with a dance outdoors. All the flash backs would make me feel warm inside and think of all the good times I had with my family as a child. It did make me sad that the girls mother is no longer around but a great book overall.
The word choices in this book are wonderful! I could think of a million ways to use this book in a classroom. I especially think it would be great to discuss descriptive verbs! I really loved this story! It may be one to have in the classroom library, but also my own!
Why didn't I love this beautiful book? And why are almost all of the reviews by teachers or wannabe teachers? And what would children think of it? I don't know... I'd like some of my GR friends who read picture-books to read & review this....
Oct 07, 2009 Nicole added it
It is a tradition in my family for my mom to give this book to us when we get married. I can't tell you how much this book means to me because of my mother. It talks about how to deal with life and express yourself through dancing.
Carol Royce Owen
Beautiful imagery as the young girl describes the days when she and her mama would dance out into the world, celebrating the beauty of the seasons, and how the mama passed that love of dancing down to her young daughter.
"My mama had a dancing heart and she shared that heart with me".... it's such a beautiful line and the book has such warm illustrations, and there's a ballerina and everything, but somehow it just fell flat for me.
A beautifully illustrated book. I received it from my husband for Mother's Day. It is a children's book but I think anyone that appreciates art and poetry would enjoy this book. It is joyful and sentimental.
Alisha Williams
This is a good book to introduce poetry to a class. This book is about a girl and all the things that she used to do with her mother. It is very descriptive and a differnt style of writing.
My Mama Had A Dancing Heart (Orchard Paperbacks)
thrilled by the life that she was raised in a little girls love of her mother inspires her to live the life of an artist and ballerina
The first line (which also happens to be the last line, too) is my favorite, "My mama had a dancing heart and she shared that heart with me."
some o the best, most original poetry i've read. the art could not be any better. should have been a Newbery or Caldecot honor book.
Jo Oehrlein
Shows mother and kid celebrating the seasons with creative movement and other seasonal activities. Then, shows the grown-up kid as a ballet dancer.
Dakota Mcintosh
Great book to do a poetry activity in the classroom. Students could create their own poems and incorporate movement in them.
Margaux Laskey
a lovely poem with even more lovely illustrations about a little girl and her mama's celebration of the seasons through dance.
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