book review, Summer Reading Book Adventures

Dancing Differently 101-Giraffes Can’t Dance Book Review & Activity {Shannon Medisky}

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Can you believe school is DONE?!!? Ack! Now everyone is kicking into “summer reading gear” and Jump Into a Book is no different.

This year I decided to “mix it up” a bit and invite some of the many amazing bloggers and reading/play advocates that  I know to stop by and share their knowledge and creativity with the JIAB readers. PLUS it will offer kids and parents some cool new reading ideas and activities for summer.

Summer reading programs are abundant after school ends. It’s our goal to not only create an ongoing summer reading booklist with activities option for parents, but also work to keep the focus on helping our young readers be Global Citizens. We would like to focus on books that will help our kiddos explore their world and keep our initiative of multicultural books for kids in the forefront of people’s minds too. To acheive this, I created the Discover Your World Summer Reading Extravaganza.

Discover Your World Summer Reading Extravaganza

This fun summer reading and activity event will run from June 1 to Sept 1 and we encourage your to keep stopping by Jump Into a Book during this time to view all of the booklists, book reviews, crafts, recipes and activities my guest bloggers will be sharing! Here is our first guest for the Discover Your World Summer Reading Extravaganza, Shannon Medisky of

Dancing Differently 101

By Shannon Medisky

Maybe it’s the teacher in me. Yeah, I left the classroom, but my desire to make everything a learning opportunity certainly hasn’t gone poof! Summer provides the perfect opportunity for me to share this with my kids, and Giles Andreae’s book called Giraffes Can’t Dance provided the perfect platform for a new kind of lesson: how to dance differently than everyone else.

Giraffes Can't Dance

In the book, Gerald, a tall and clumsy giraffe, is an outsider. Surrounded by a wide variety of different jungle animals, everyone can dance beautifully-everyone, that is, except for Gerald. The ending of the book is no surprise: Gerald learns to dance in his own unique way.

But what is a surprise is just how enjoyable is to read this book aloud! Andreae is clearly adept at writing in rhyming prose, something that’s not easily done. And, as a result, this book is just as fun to read as it is to listen to. The words of the story literally glide off the tongue as kids are genuinely sucked into poor Gerald’s plight. Mid-way through the book, a tiny cricket speaks softly to Gerald at his lowest point. He
encourages Gerald to block out the negative words of all the other bullying animals, and instead listen to his own “different” song. In the end, this process enables Gerald to dance beautifully but differently as he embraces his own moves, his own way, instead of trying to copy everyone else. This is definitely a skill and a truth I want to impress upon my own kids, and fortunately I was able to create a number of fun activities to do just that. Though Gerald has an awful time at the annual “Jungle Dance,” it provides a perfect opportunity to get kids up and active while exposing them to a wide variety of different styles of music! I found 5 different pieces of music: a waltz, a rock and roll song, a tango, a cha-cha and a Scottish reel. And after we read the book aloud together, we listened-and danced-to the different styles of music. As both boys got caught up in the fun, they began to realize there was no “right” or “wrong” way to dance to the different types of music. Instead, they were too caught up in having fun with each other. Just like Gerald at the end of the book, my boys were realizing that everyone really can dance when they find music-their own music-that they love.

Like I shared earlier, once a teacher, always a teacher and so I couldn’t let this activity stop without bringing it to a thoughtful and thought-provoking close, too. I invited my now exhausted kiddos to take a seat and close their eyes, just like Gerald did in the story. I asked them to remember something that they struggled to do, something that was hard for them or something that they did differently than everyone else. Next, with their eyes still closed, I asked them to practice doing that same thing right now inside their head, only this time focus on
enjoying doing it and doing it their way.

Giraffes Can't Dance

Then, I had them continue to sit quietly, eyes still closed and listen to the sounds-the music-that was all around them right in that moment. It was a way to practice positive thinking, visualization and mindful relaxation, but only after I’d
physically worn them out first!

Shannon Medisky

Shannon Medisky is on a mission to inspire innovative thought in kids while simultaneously igniting a passion for science. In short, Shannon seeks to make science go BOOM! So children’s futures can take off, too.

A former classroom teacher and current writer, Shannon presents science concepts in fun, easy-to-understand ways, helping kids to understand that science isn’t just a “what” but “how” also. Additionally, she challenges kids to think critically, creatively and differently, encouraging an entrepreneurial approach to learning and failure along the way. The result is true education reform one child at a time, empowering kids to affect positive change in their own lives now while simultaneously equipping them for what lies ahead.

Her articles have been featured in many prominent magazines such as Exceptional Parents, Adoptive Families, Hybrid Mom, Mothering and Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family.

To learn more about Shannon, visit or connect with her on Facebook.

4 thoughts on “Dancing Differently 101-Giraffes Can’t Dance Book Review & Activity {Shannon Medisky}

  1. Valarie, I read Giraffes Can’t Dance back when it was first released and really enjoyed it. Great message and such fun illustrations. I LOVE giraffes! 😀

  2. Thank you so much for yet another amazing guest post, Shannon. We appreciate you!

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