the following 10 picture books offer enchanting versions of the Nutcracker!
Whether you’re already a fan of The Nutcracker or are looking to learn more about this holiday classic, you’re in the right place! The following list of 10 enchanting picture books of The Nutcracker for kids offers magical illustrations and wonderful descriptions.
10 Enchanting Picture Books of The Nutcracker
If you’re looking for a thorough history of The Nutcracker, you can do an online search and find plenty of information. For example, the Nutcracker Magical Christmas Ballet site offers a history of The Nutcracker, information about ballet costume designing, and a variety of other topics.
Here is a simple and brief summary of The Nutcracker:
Note: In some versions of The Nutcracker Clara is the main character while in other versions, her name is Marie. So don’t be confused when some of the books below refer to her as Clara while in others she is referred to as Marie.
The story of The Nutcracker takes place on Christmas Eve at Clara’s, (Marie’s) house. Clara, (Marie) her younger brother Fritz, and her parents are hosting a party. As guests arrive and the party swings into festivities, Clara’s, (Marie’s) godfather, who is a toymaker, arrives. He has gifts with him including one for Clara, (Marie’s) which is a wooden Nutcracker. Fritz ends up breaking the Nutcracker which devastates Clara, (Marie). The children are sent to bed and eventually, the guests leave as the party comes to an end.
Once Clara, (Marie) falls asleep, we are taken along with her in her dreams. She battles the Mouse King and ends up defeating him, then comes face to face with a prince, who is, in fact, her beloved Nutcracker. Clara, (Marie) and the prince travel to the Land of Sweets where she is dazzled by the performances of beautiful dancers.
Eventually, Clara, (Marie) wakes up on Christmas morning leaving us to wonder, was it all just a dream, or did she really travel to the Land of Sweets and back again?
Now, let’s dive in, shall we!?!
10 ENCHANTING PICTURE BOOKS OF THE NUTCRACKER FOR KIDS
1. A Child’s Introduction to the Nutcracker: The Story, Music, Costumes, and Choreography of the Fairy Tale Ballet
by Heather Alexander & Amelie Videlo
This is the perfect picture book to begin your Nutcracker adventure! Whether you’re a longtime fan of The Nutcracker or a complete novice, you’ll enjoy colorful illustrations and interesting facts.
Follow along and observe the stages of production, and learn about the famous composer Tchaikovsky, as well as various choreographers including Petipa, Ivanov, and Balanchine.
There are also sections highlighting specific famous dancers and ballet companies that have performed The Nutcracker in captivating ways. A removable poster to color is also included!
Truly, one of the best versions of The Nutcracker to start with!
by New York City Ballet & Valeria Docampo
The New York City Ballet performs one of the most famous Nutcracker ballet productions in the world which is based on George Balanchine’s choreography.
Within the pages of this picture book, the illustrated movement and scenery imitate New York City Ballet’s stunning choreography and set design.
This is a wonderful choice for anyone who has either seen the New York City Ballet perform or who hopes to one day.
by Katy Flint & Jessica Courtney-Tickle
In addition to the stunning artwork throughout this book, it also includes buttons to push, allowing readers to listen to sound clips from 10 of Tchaikovsky’s pieces from The Nutcracker.
This is a wonderful way to introduce readers to the story of The Nutcracker as well as the role of the composer and the orchestra.
Included is a brief biography of Tchaikovsky and his experience composing The Nutcracker. There is also a description of the various instruments and techniques used in the orchestra.
This is part of The Story Orchestra series which also includes the following:
- Swan Lake (music by Tchaikovsky)
- Sleeping Beauty (music by Tchaikovsky)
- The Magic Flute (music by Mozart)
- Carnival of the Animals (music by Saint-Saëns)
- In the Hall of the Mountain King (music by Grieg)
- Four Seasons in One Day (music by Vivaldi)
All of these books offer a fun way to learn about influential composers and to listen to snippets of their famous music.
This is a fantastic way to incorporate the music of The Nutcracker into your reading.
by John Robert Allman & Julianna Swaney
This lovely picture book was created in partnership with American Ballet Theatre. It offers a peek into preparations for The Nutcracker, complete with examples from behind the scenes. There’s even an afterword with original costume illustrations by Tony Award winner Richard Hudson.
In this story, we observe several young dancers as they go through auditions, costume fitting, rehearsals, and all of the other required preparations. At last, we get to see them take the stage on opening night and dazzle the audience!
An excellent choice, especially for budding dancers and those interested in ballet.
by Jan Brett
If you are already familiar with Jan Brett, you know that her illustrations are phenomenal! She is the author of many popular picture books including The Mitten, The Wild Christmas Reindeer, and The Snowy Nap.
A beautiful version of The Nutcracker to enjoy.
by Charlotte Nebres & Alea Marley
At 12 years old, Charlotte Nebres was the first Black girl to play Marie, (Clara) in the New York City Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker. This picture book takes this true story and combines it with the classic tale to create a reimagined take on an old classic.
Showcasing diversity in dance is essential. Including dancers of color and various ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds enriches the world of dance and creates a more inclusive environment for all. This is especially important for children who are interested in dance. For young dancers to be able to see themselves represented on stage is crucial for their self-esteem and growth as artists.
Charlotte Nebres describes the support she received from her Trinidadian and Filipino families while practicing for hours on end to refine her dancing.
A gorgeous story exploring a multicultural family, the power of dance, and the magic of The Nutcracker.
by T. E. McMorrow & James Ransome
This is a fresh spin on The Nutcracker, with a jazz-inspired, original retelling.
Taking place in New York City during the height of the Harlem Renaissance, we are witness to the musical self-discovery of one little girl as she is immersed in enchanting adventures in her own experience of The Nutcracker.
There is additional information about the history of the Harlem Renaissance as well, highlighting an important period in American history and artistic achievement.
A meaningful version, highlighting the importance of representation and diversity.
by Jessica Southwick, Yevgeniya Yeretskaya & Neiko Ng
This version is a pop-up adaptation that includes several rich and robust illustrations with pop-ups and other interactive elements.
Created by award-winning paper engineer Yevgeniya Yeretskaya, this book is unique and delightful.
A stunning and unique addition to add to your list!
by Susan Jeffers
Another beautifully illustrated picture book that tells the story of The Nutcracker in a simple way.
Author Susan Jeffers offers a note at the end of the book explaining her inspiration for creating this beautiful version of a beloved classic.
Another lovely option to add to your list!
by Heidi Rauld
This version offers a fun twist on The Nutcracker.
On the night before Christmas Eve, two concerned sisters are still without a gift for their Grandma Clara.
Before bed, Grandma Clara tells her granddaughters a bedtime story. She describes her magical adventures throughout a fantastical world and the loss of her treasured Nutcracker.
The sisters decide to set off on an epic adventure to find Grandma Clara’s lost Nutcracker. and return it to her. They know it will be the perfect gift!
A creative twist and continuation of a holiday classic.
Be sure to check out the following recommendations:
Here’s to magical reading adventures with The Nutcracker!