On Stage - Performance and Performing for Young Adults

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Books for young adults about performance, performers, and being on stage.

Article in the Themes category.


  • Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You, by Dorian Cirrone - Sixteen-year-old Kayla, a ballet dancer, and her sister Paterson, an artist, are both helped and hindered by classmates as they confront sexism, conformity, and censorship at their high school for the arts while still managing to maintain their sense of humor.
  • The Melting Season, by Celeste Conway - Giselle, the sheltered daughter of two famous ballet dancers, comes to terms with her relationships with both her late father and her mother, realizing some important truths that help her move forward both in her life and with her own dancing.
  • Dancer, by Lorri Hewett - Sixteen-year-old Stephanie struggles to perfect her ballet dancing as her classes are complicated by the introduction of a new male dancer.
  • House of Dance, by Beth Kephart - During one of her daily visits across town to visit her dying grandfather, fifteen-year-old Rosie discovers a ballroom dance studio that helps her find a way to bring her family members together.
  • Confessions of a Backup Dancer, by Anonymous, as told to Tucker Shaw - Having worked for a summer as a back-up singer to one of the hottest pop stars in the world, Kelly Kimball is eager to share all the secrets about the starlet, her friends, and her romances as well as the perks and pitfalls of living in the spotlight.
  • Another way to dance, by Martha Southgate - Accepted at New York City's prestigious School of American Ballet, a delighted Vicki Harris commits herself to a dancing career but is disturbed when she and the school's only other African-American student are targeted with racism.
  • Poor Dancer's Almanac: Managing life and work in the Performing Arts, edited by David R. White, Life Friedman, and Tia Tibbitts Levinson - "More than 50 professionals present detailed information on topics ranging from how to locate performing space to writing a press release to filing tax forms. Interspersed with the nitty-gritty of production, management, personnel, finances, and healthcare are personal glimpses of the life of an artist as written by established performers like Eric Bogosian, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, and Karen Finley." 792.8 POOR

Acting, Theater & Spoken Word

  • Love on Cue by Catherine Hapka - When her dream role opposite her crush in the school's musical is threatened, Maggie asks Nico to give her voice lessons but begins to fall for him.
  • Dramarama, by E. Lockhart - Theater-mad teens Sadye and her best friend Demi find their bond of friendship sorely tested when they encounter love, rivalry, and a vast array of unforgettable characters while spending the summer at drama camp.
  • Klepto. by Jenny Pollack - In 1981, fourteen-year-old Julie, a drama major at the High School of Performing Arts in New York City, becomes best friends with an attractive new girl who introduces Julie to the exciting but dangerous world of shoplifting.
  • Zap, by Paul Fleischman - Wanting to put on a show like no other, the high-school drama club decides to mix, match, and mingle various plays from several authors, including Neil Simon and Tennessee Williams, in order to create something that is sure to keep their audience guessing to the very end.
  • Suite Scarlett, by Maureen Johnson - Fifteen-year-old Scarlett Marvin is stuck in New York City for the summer working at her quirky family's historic hotel, but her brother's theater company needs help staging a guerrilla production.
  • Talk, by Kathe Koja - Hoping to escape from himself for awhile, Kit auditions for a controversial school play and discovers his talent for acting, struggles with coming out, and both he and his costar face crises in their view of themselves and in their close relationships.
  • Fame, Glory, and Other Things on My To Do List, by Janette Rallison - High school junior Jessica uses the arrival of a new boy to further her schemes of winning her ex-boyfriend back and becoming the next big Hollywood movie star.
  • Surviving the Applewhites, by Stephanie Tolan - Jake, a budding juvenile delinquent, is sent for home schooling to the artsy and eccentric Applewhite family's Creative Academy, where he discovers talents and interests he never knew he had, and ultimately helps the family put on a theater production in their barn.

Singing & Playing Music

  • Beige, by Cecil Castellucci - Forced to spend two weeks in L.A. with her recovering addict father who works as a drummer for a punk rock band, Katy has little intention of doing anything else but reading her books and keeping her distance, but when things don't go as planned, Katy quickly discovers she may be more like her father than she could have ever imagined.
  • Pop Princess, by Rachel Cohn - 15-year-old Wonder Blake is given the chance to become a teen idol, but that was her older sister Lucky's dream. Lucky was on her way to becoming a pop star when she died, and Wonder and her family are still trying to recover from their loss. Offered a recording contract, Wonder jumps at the chance to escape from a dead-end town, her fractured family, and worst of all, high school. Suddenly she has it all: a hot new look, a chart-busting hit single, a tour opening up for superstar Kayla. But stardom isn't all glamour -- it's also lots of work.
  • When the Curtain Rises, by Rachel Dunstan - Chloe is an aspiring pianist who confronts her own stage fright when she investigates the strange history of her great-grandfather, a magician who disappeared at the height of his popularity.
  • Diva, by Alex Flinn - Despite her mother's objections, sixteen-year-old Caitlin determines to pursue her dream of becoming an opera singer by attending a performing arts school in Miami.
  • Fat Kid Rules the World, by K. L. Going - Seventeen-year-old Troy, depressed, suicidal, and weighing nearly 300 pounds, gets a new perspective on life when a homeless teenager who is a genius on guitar wants Troy to be the drummer in his rock band.
  • Lemonade Mouth, by Mark Peter Hughes - When five freshman outcasts join forces and put their creative heads together, they come up with a sound like no other, change the tone of rock-and-roll forever, and become one of their states most influential bands in the process.
  • Guitar Girl, by Sarra Manning - As her band, The Hormones, becomes an international sensation, seventeen-year-old Molly begins to question the high cost of fame.
  • Rock Star, Superstar, by Blake Nelson - When Pete, a talented bass player, moves from playing in the high school jazz band to playing in a popular rock group, he finds the experience exhilarating even as his new fame jeopardizes his relationship with girlfriend Margaret.
  • Plastic Angel, by Nerissa Nields - Thirteen-year-old Randi, an aspiring singer-songwriter, spends the summer forming a band called Plastic Angel with her friend Gellie, and together they also make some decisions about the kind of people they want to be.
  • Born Blue, by Han Nolan - Leshaya, the child of a heroin addict, has seen it all: revolving foster homes, physical abuse, an unwanted pregnancy. Now, as her tumultuous childhood is coming to an end, she is determined not only to survive but to make a life for herself by doing the only thing that makes her feel whole . . . singing.
  • Sky: a Novel in Three Sets and an Encore, by Roderick Townley - Fifteen-year-old runaway Sky is only comfortable communicating with the world through his music, but after being befriended by a blind jazz musician, he learns an important lesson about life and begins to see the world with a new set of eyes.
  • Backstage Pass, by Gaby Triana - After moving to Miami, Florida, sixteen-year-old Desert McGraw, whose life as the daughter of a rock star has been anything but normal, determines to make a permanent home for herself and her family--even if it means breaking up the band.
  • The Mozart Season, by Virginia Euwer Wolff - Allegra spends her twelfth summer practicing a Mozart concerto for a violin competition and finding many significant connections in her world.
  • When the Black Girl Sings, by Bil Wright - Lahni struggles with being the only African American in her school - and in her family - but finds a new voice when she starts to sing in a church choir and at a school competition.
  • Good Enough, by Paula Yoo - Between her violin concertos, pressure to excel, getting perfect SATs, and just trying to be one of the cool crowd, a young Korean-American girl struggles in her senior year to meet everyone's expectations, including some of her own.
  • Trollbridge, a Rock'n'Roll Fairy Tale, by Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple - Sixteen-year-old harpist prodigy Moira is disgusted by the forthcoming Princess Day traditions, while three members of a teen boy band prepare for a relaxing road trip, events that clash when the young people are transported into a mystical wilderness where a deadly struggle is taking place between a magical fox and a monstrous troll.

Performing Arts in General

It Chicks, by Tia Williams - Centering around a prestigious performing arts school in New York City, a drama-filled novel follows an unforgettable cast of characters as they each learn valuable lessons in love, friendship, fame, and fortune.

Overcoming Stage Fright in Everyday Life, by Joyce Ashley

Speak up! A Guide to Public Speaking, by Patricia Sternberg

How to be Your Own Booking Agent and Save Thousands of Dollars: a Performing Artist's guide to a Successful Touring Career, by Jeri Goldstein

Opportunities in Performing Arts Careers, by Bonnie Bjorguine Bekken

A Young Performer's Guide: How To Break into Show Business, by Brian A. Padol and Alan Simon

The Backstage Handbook for Performing Artists: the How-to and Who-to-Contact Reference for Actors, Singers, and Dancers, compiled and edited by Sherry Eaker