Dancing with Naima

Over the past three weeks, we’ve discussed the ins and outs of a successful start in dance. Today, I’m changing course with a write up of a children’s book entitled, Dancing with Naima.

Dancing with Naima is written by Desiree Parkman. Parkman, a former Rockette and Broadway dancer, wanted to give children an introductory guide to dance classes. I have had the pleasure of meeting the author, virtually! I won her book in a contest earlier this year.

The book takes the reader from home preparation through end of class at the studio. It concludes with a glossary. The illustrations by Jasmine C. Cole are sweet and vibrant.

My eight-year-old daughter enjoyed reading about Naima. As a beautiful young lady with a head full of thick, curly hair she related to the description of Naima’s hair preparations. In fact, it is her favorite page of the book.


Dancers with a variety of skin tones and hair textures are shown in the book. In an interview with the Miami Herald, Ms Parkman said,

“Naima is me as a little girl, a revisit to the joy and wonder I felt when I first stepped into a dance studio. I was inspired by my journey into to dance, as well as the many young girls that begin dance every year. I knew there was a lack of representation featuring girls of color in books, and I wanted to be a part of changing that. I wanted those little girls to have something special that speaks to them.”

I want to also note that Ms. Parkman created a successful campaign this past Christmas to gift this book to children in Haiti. She desires to reach young girls of color with the message that they have a place in the studio.

The glossary at the end of the book is a starter for children to learn to pronounce and define ballet terminology. I would encourage them to look to Gail Grant’s, Technical Manual and Dictionary of Ballet for continued learning. For more reference on the five basic ballet positions depicted in the story, parents can show this article from Ballet Hub or the following videos from the Royal Ballet: feet positions only; feet and port de bras seen here on the right with Romany Pajdak.

Is Dancing with Naima of interest to you? You can purchase a copy at www.dancingwithnaima.com.

Have you read this book? Talk about it in the comments.

You can follow Dancing with Naima on Facebook and Instagram @dancingwithnaima


Benn, Evan. “Book by Miami author encourages girls of color to pursue ballet and the arts.” Miami Herald, 23 September 2018. UPDATED 9 January 2019. www.miamiherald.com/indulge/culture/article224151615.html