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Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreno Played the Piano for President Lincoln by Margarita Engle and Illustrated by Rafael Lopez

September 15th-October 15th is Hispanic Heritage Month, and “Dancing Hands” is a perfect choice for a read-aloud to highlight an inspiring, but probably not very well-known to our students, individual- Teresa Carreno. She grew up in Venezuela, and learned to play the piano and write music at a very young age.

Her family fled their home country when she was eight due to a revolution, and came to the United States. While much was different for Teresa, the piano was familiar and “she discovered that wherever one is, some people are friendly, drawn together by songs.” I love this line from the book, and it speaks to what is happening in our world now. How often have we turned on the news or gone on social media to see neighbors on their balconies singing and playing instruments? Teresa’s story reminds us that even when things seem bleak or uncertain, music can be something that unites us and reminds us to have hope.

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