Kern Dance Alliance, Kern County Library, and Kern Literacy Council will launch a digital version of our annual summer reading program Books in Motion®: DANCE + LITERACY. As the pandemic limited opportunities for in-person experiences, the organizations pivoted to continue to bring beloved children’s books to life through digital dance performances.

Throughout the summer, seven Books in Motion films will be released online to inspire children to read through dance! Featuring beloved children’s books like the Pied Piper and Groovy Joe’s Countdown Party, Books in Motion films will include a narrated performance of a book, as well as choreography children can learn to promote the book’s theme. Additionally, the films will feature a craft session to promote literacy goals via role playing at home. Finally, children will be able to pick up a FREE book and a craft kit from various Kern County libraries including Arvin, Beale, Delano, Kern River Valley, Ridgecrest, Taft, Tehachapi, and many more!

Books in Motion is produced in conjunction with Dance Camera West, a Los Angeles based production company specializing in creating dance for film.  Dance Camera West was contracted to work in Bakersfield this past spring where they filmed Books in Motion at various locations including The Historic Bakersfield Fox Theater, Kern County Museum, and The Padre Hotel.  Books in Motion is directed by Kelly Hargraves, produced & edited by Amber Patee Adams, with director of photography Ethan Sigmon. The films feature seven Kern County dance organizations including the Bakersfield City Ballet, DanceNation, DAT KREW, Heather Benes and the East Kern Ragtag Revels, McLaughlin Dance Collective/Civic Dance Center, Polynesian Spice, and Spotlight Dance Academy.

Help us spread the word about Books in Motion!

Download the Books in Motion information flyer by clicking the button below! 

Books in Motion is pleased to feature a LIVE celebrity author series featuring professional dancers that have authored children’s books that use dance as a theme.

Celebrity authors will read their children’s book,  teach basic movement and participate in a Q&A. The celebrity reader series will be available for free on Zoom and participants must RSVP for the event at by clicking the button below.

KDA will continue to announce live celebrity reader sessions all summer.

“Groovy Joe’s Dance Party Countdown” by Eric Litwin, art by Tom Lichtenheld, with permission from Hachette Children’s Group, performed by McLaughlin Dance Collective / Civic Dance Center and produced by Brian and Kristen McLaughlin. 

“Hip Hop Lollipop” written by Susan McElroy Montanari & Brian Pinkney, with permission from Schwartz & Wade Books, performed by Spotlight Dance Academy, and produced by Dance Camera West. 

“Hip Hop Lollipop” está escrito por Susan McElroy Montanari y Brian Pinkney, con permiso de Schwartz & Wade Books.and produced by Dance Camera West. 

”Froggy Goes to Hawaii” written by Jonathan London, illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz, published by Puffin Books, featuring Polynesian Spice, and produced by Dance Camera West. 

“The Pied Piper of Hamelin” written by Robert Browning, illustrated by Kate Greenaway, published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, featuring Heather Benes and the East Kern Ragtag Revels, and produced by Dance Camera West. 

“Hip Hop Lollipop” by Susan McElroy Montanari & Brian Pinkney, with permission from Schwartz & Wade Books, performed by DAT KREW, and produced by Dance Camera West.

“Groovy Joe’s Countdown Dance Party” by Eric Litwin, art by Tom Lichtenheld, with permission from Hachette Children’s Group, and performed by DanceNation and produced by Dance Camera West.

“Ballerina Gets Ready” by Allegra Kent, illustrated by Catherine Stock with permission from Holiday House Publishing, featuring Bakersfield City Ballet, and produced by Dance Camera West.

BIM Survey

Have you enjoyed a Books in Motion experience?  Tell us about it by taking 2 minutes to fill out our survey!

Books in Motion is geared for children in the early literacy stages (K-3rd grade) and is designed to tap into their imagination and encourage them to read. For some, reading is a concept that is too foreign to understand due to age and brain development. Books in Motion will bypass this intangible feeling by allowing children to see the magic of a book laid out with real characters coming to life. Children do not have to read the words – they can read the dancers’ movements to understand the story. By tapping into curiosity, children are motivated to explore literacy, which leads them back to the written words that brought the book to life. Books in Motion has reached over 6000 children and has given away nearly 3000 free books since 2017. 

  1. Create motivation and interest in reading- The Books in Motion bibliography taps into curiosity via dance performances. . . children will be motivated to explore literacy, which leads them back to the written words that brought the book to life.
  2. Create motivation and encouragement for movement through dance – Children learn choreography to reinforce their critical thinking of the story.
  3. Cover Common Core State Standards in Reading Literature for grades K-3rd grade- Books in Motion text covers Common Core Standards for Reading Literature including but not limited to: Ask questions to demonstrate understanding of a text; recount stories from diverse cultures; determine the central message and explain how it is conveyed through key details; describe characters in a story and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
  4. Instill a sense of connection and ownership of reading through listening and viewing of stories- Children dance choreography corresponding with the Books in Motion text. Children produce art reflecting the session’s teachings. Children take a free Books in Motion book home.
  5. Foster creative abilities of youth through cultural arts learning- Books in Motion supports literacy development through unified thematic experiences of dance, crafting, and story-telling.
  6. Activate Youth Voices- Books in Motion actives youth voices during the craft session with children speaking about the book and creating a craft that coincides with the session’s teachings.
  7. Critical Thinking- The Books in Motion evaluation promotes critical thinking by asking questions about the book.

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).

Books in Motion features story-telling, performance, choreography, and crafting.

Story-telling + Performance – Children will listen to the narration of a children’s book while viewing an accompanying dance performance.

Dance – Children learn/perform choreography in an injury-free, nurturing environment from dancers based upon the Books in Motion text. Kinesthetic learning, attitude, and confidence are emphasized during the class.

Small Group Crafting – Children create crafts corresponding to the Books in Motion text. Children and guardians are encouraged to work together, producing a creative product reflecting the session’s teachings.

Evaluation– Children are prompted to answer questions via critical thinking about the Books in Motion text reflecting the Common Core Standards for Reading Literature. 

We are pleased to offer FREE craft kits and books available for curbside pick up at Kern County library branches.  

Arvin Branch
201 Campus Drive, Arvin, CA 93203
Tuesdays – Thursdays @ 12-6pm

Beale Memorial
701 Truxtun Avenue, Bakersfield 93301
Mondays – Fridays @ 12-6pm

Delano Branch
925 10th Avenue, Delano, CA 93215
Wednesdays– Fridays @ 12-6pm

Frazier Park Branch
3732 Park Drive, Frazier Park, CA 93225
Tuesdays-Thursdays @ 12-6pm

Kern River Valley Branch
7053 Lake Isabella Boulevard, Lake Isabella, CA 93240
Wednesdays – Fridays @ 12-6pm

Rosamond Branch
3611 Rosamond Boulevard, Rosamond, CA 93560
Mondays and Tuesdays @ 12-6pm

Rathbun Branch
200 West China Grade Loop, Bakersfield, CA 93308
Wednesdays and Thursdays @ 12-6pm

Ridgecrest Branch
131 E. Las Flores Avenue, Ridgecrest, CA 93555
Mondays – Thursdays @ 12-6pm

Shafter Branch
236 James Street, Suite 2, Shafter, CA 93263
Thursday and Fridays through July 16th @12-6pm

Southwest Branch
8301 Ming Avenue, Bakersfield, CA 93311
Monday and Tuesdays @ 12-6pm

Taft Branch
27 Cougar Court, Taft, CA 93268
Mondays – Wednesdays @ 12-6pm

Tehachapi Branch
212 Green Street, Tehachapi, CA 93561
Wednesdays – Fridays @ 12-6pm

Wasco Branch
1102 7th Street, Wasco, CA 93280
Mondays and Tuesdays @ 12-6pm

Books in Motion is FREE to all participants and is made possible by generous donations from our community. You can help others to participate in Books in Motion by becoming a donor:

  • $100 affords craft supplies for one Books in Motion session
  • $850 affords one Books in Motion Dance Organization Honorarium
  • $1000 affords craft sessions for an entire summer of Books in Motion
  • $6,000 affords free books for one Books in Motion session
  • $18,000 affords an entire summer of Books in Motion




Bakersfield City Ballet is Bakersfield’s premier pre-professional ballet company. Their mission is to inspire and enrich our community and foster a love for the arts in youth through dance. As a pre-professional company, BCB serves as a stepping stone between studio training and a college dance program or professional contract. Their annual performances provide a live artistic cultural experience for our community, with an emphasis on classical and contemporary styles of dance.  Bakersfield City Ballet  is committed to making dance accessible to the widest possible audience through annual performances, educational programs, media, and other outreach efforts. 

McLaughlin Dance Collective is a brand new company directed by Kristen McLaughlin. The company started as a way to guide Bakersfield dancers towards their dreams, give them an opportunity to share their gifts with their community, and bring joy to Bakersfield through community events. Civic Dance Center welcomes dancers of all ages and skill levels to come and share in the joy, learning, and development of dance. There are many classes to choose from, as well as many talented, professional, and knowledgeable instructors to teach them. 

Polynesian Spice is a family owned and operated group that has been bringing island entertainment to Bakersfield for over 20 years. Their mission is to share their appreciation and love of the culture, songs, and dances of the Pacific Islands. As a halau (Hawaiian dance school)  comprised of family (ohana) and Polynesians at heart, their goal is to preserve and exhibit the authenticity of the Hawaiian culture and dance by sharing their Aloha Spirit throughout the community. They offer classes for all ages. They hope you will join them for a culturally educational experience and a fun way to exercise!

Ever since its grand opening in 2011, Spotlight Dance Academy’s main goal has been to provide quality dance education and a positive outlet in children’s lives at the lowest cost in Kern County. SDA takes pride in being a “non-traditional” dance academy, specializing in hip hop, jazz funk, Latin rhythms, and musical theatre dance. Ran by husband and wife team Sharida Rejon-Rodriguez and Bertin Rodriguez, SDA enjoys training and inspiring the next generation of performers.

Founded in 2014, D.A.T Krew (Dance Art Talent) Corporation is a non-profit organization whose goal is to inspire today’s youth through art and expression worldwide. It serves low income, underprivileged and at risk youth who represent our world today. In addition, DAT Krew is dedicated to saving the lives of today’s youth by providing a domain of tranquility which we believe is the cure for depression and mental illness.

Heather Benes has been creating dance experiences in East Kern and the Antelope Valley since 1985, when she directed a full length Nutcracker ballet for Cerro Coso Community College. She opened Mojave Movement Arts Center in 1993, offering classes in ballet, jazz, and tap for students from Ridgecrest to Pearblossom. She also directed the dance program at the Palmdale Playhouse from 1999 to 2018, creating such works as The Snow Queen, Hansel and Gretel, The Pied Piper, Little Red Riding Hood, and several abridged versions of the Nutcracker. She earned an M.A. and an M.S. and has taught dance and dance-related subjects at a number of colleges and universities, including California State University, California, University of Kansas, University of California, Irvine, and Scripps College. During the Covid restrictions, she has been teaching private and semi-private classes at the OneCore Dance Studio in Rosamond. Ms. Benes has been a member of KDA for 6 years and a previous participant in Books in Motion. Heather Benes and the East Kern Ragtag Revels are excited to participate in the 2021 Books in Motion program!

DanceNation offers a variety of classes to all ages and levels. Styles include ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, lyrical, musical theater, acrobatics, turns & technique, stretch & conditioning, pointe, choreography, competition team and showteam. DN empowers dancers to explore their creativity, build confidence and advance to their fullest potential in mind, body and spirit. They strive to inspire the future of our studio and community by setting high standards for all faculty, dancers and parents while making life-long friends and families.

July 10, 2021 ABC/KBAK Channel 23:  : Books in Motion Inspires Children’s Literacy

Love of reading, dance in sync for Books in Motion

July 3, 2021 ABC/KBAK Channel 23: Dance organizations come together to inspire children literacy