I promise you, over the years, I’ve purchased at least twenty copies of Dancing In the Wings for the Girlpies’ friends. It’s a gift—that perfect jewel of a book. It’s got ballerinas. A tall, beautiful chocolate gum drop named Sassy with great big ol’ feet. A supportive uncle who encourages his niece to stand tall with her chin held high. And an incredible story, penned by our hero, dance choreographer, actress and director Debbie Allen, and illustrated by the divine artist Kadir Nelson, about what it takes for a little brown girl to gather up the self-esteem she needs to embrace her greatness. Dancing In the Wings is one of those books that should be on every child’s book shelf—because it’s an incredible mirror for brown girls (and boys!) and a window into the real lives of brown children—one that stretches beyond the typical narratives saddled to Black children’s books. Best believe, I used Dancing In the Wings to integrate the bookshelves of my daughters’ white friends, who needed to see in their books little brown girls blossom into butterflies, much like Sassy did as she went from dancing in the wings to her big ballerina debut on stage. I love reading this book aloud because it is the epitome of #blackgirlmagic.

If you missed the reading, or you just want to watch it with your babies again, the video is up top—just push play. Every reading we do from here on out will live here on MyBrownBaby and on the MyBrownBaby YouTube page, so you’ll have instant access to these incredible bedtime stories for your babies.

“Good Night MyBrownBaby” is a part of the MyBrownBaby mission to help introduce parents to great books for kids, featuring kids that look like ours. I figure if we help our beautiful babies fall in love with good literature early, they’ll love it forever. And if we support Black authors who celebrate our babies’ humanity in literature, we’ll be creating a want and need for more books just like them—a want and need publishing companies like mine will respond to.

As I mentioned in the Good Night MyBrownBaby Dancing In the Wings reading: those who shared the video on FB qualified for a giveaway, this time for either of these two gifts: one of the upcoming books on my new children’s book imprint, Denene Millner Books, or a copy of “Mary Had a Little Glam,” an adorable book illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, the illustrator of my upcoming book, “Early Sunday Morning.”  Congratulations to:

Adiba Segal, who wins a copy of the Vanessa Brantley-Newton illustrated book “Mary Had a Little Glam.”

Kisha Adams, who wins a copy of my upcoming parenting book, “MyBrownBaby: the Joys and Challenges of Raising African American Children.”


If you and your babies loved Dancing in the Wings,  cop a copy here, or pick it up at your local bookstore or library.

And don’t forget to check in for our next Good Night MyBrownBaby Facebook Live reading, featuring me, Denene Millner, reading the absolutely adorable book, “Monster Trouble.” I’ll be reading live from the MyBrownBaby Facebook Fans page on Tuesday, March 7, at 7:30 p.m. sharp!

RSVP with your email addy or phone number to goodnightstories@mybrownbaby.com, and I’ll send out an invitation/be there reminder so you can get your babies together and ready for the reading—which will be really helpful so that I’m not sitting there reading to a wall. That would not be cute.

See you at the next Good Night MyBrownBaby!

* * *

Sassy is a long-legged girl who always has something to say. She wants to be a ballerina more than anything, but she worries that her too-large feet, too-long legs, and even her big mouth will keep her from her dream. When a famous director comes to visit her class, Sassy does her best to get his attention with her high jumps and bright leotard. Her first attempts are definitely not appreciated, but with Sassy’s persistence, she just might be able to win him over. Dancing in the Wings is loosely based on actress/choreographer Debbie Allen’s own experiences as a young dancer.

To enhance your child’s reading experience:

Uncle Red encourages Sassy to use what she thinks are her flaws to “make your mark on the world.” Have your child think about what she’s uncomfortable with, and discuss with her ways to look at it from a more positive place.

Consider taking your baby to a local ballet, particularly if the Dance Theater of Harlem is in town. Check out their schedule here.

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.

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