Dancing Hands

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A Schneider Family Book Award Honor Book

An Ezra Jack Keats Illustrator Honor Winner

Read the world to change the world! This artful picture book about friendship and sign language, originally published in the Philippines in concert with nonprofit Room to Read, is beautifully revised for this global edition. Our new neighbors' hands are dancing. Their hands move as if to music. What are they saying to each other? Sam's new neighbors' hands make graceful movements she doesn't recognize, and she wonders what they are saying. Soon she meets her new neighbor, Mai, who teaches Sam some Filipino Sign Language. Along the way, they both discover the joys of making a new friend, a best friend. This sweet and perceptive picture book by authors Joanna Que and Charina Marquez tells the story of two girls as they learn to communicate with each other. With playful illustrations that celebrate the beautiful movements of sign language, back matter discussing sign languages around the world, and endpapers teaching all the signs used in the book, Dancing Hands conveys the shy and fumbling experience of making friends and overcoming language barriers. SIGN LANGUAGE IN A STORY: One of the only children's books about sign language that is not centered on instruction, this beautifully illustrated friendship story is the perfect way to introduce kids to topics around deafness, hearing or speech impairment, and global sign languages. PROMOTES EMPATHY: As readers follow Mai and Sam's blossoming friendship, they will be encouraged to be open to new experiences. This thoughtful book emphasizes the importance of trying to understand each person we encounter and the beautiful connections we can form when we overcome perceived barriers. EDUCATIONAL EXTRAS: The book includes additional content that speaks to the history of Filipino and American sign languages, as well as sign languages around the world. CHARITABLE SUPPORT WITH EVERY PURCHASE: Buying this book benefits children in Room to Read's global Literacy Program. Room to Read has supported publishing training and opportunities for children's book creators from around the world since 2003. The Read the World, Change the World partnership with Chronicle Books brings these international voices to English language readers. Learn more at
Perfect for:
  • A book for Deaf children and families who speak sign language
  • Gift or self-purchase for anyone interested in picture books that center Deaf characters
  • Storytime or classroom resource for teachers and librarians looking for books about disability, new friendships, sign language, or the Philippines
  • AAPI audiences and Tagalog speakers
  • Fans of Room to Read, non-profit book initiatives, and global children's literature