Concert Pianist Mona Golabek Brings Mother’s Story to Generation of Young Readers

Wed, 01/13/2021 - 9:22am

Two new books published today capture the extraordinary story of Lisa Jura, an Austrian Jewish refugee who survived the Holocaust and then pursued her dream to become a concert pianist.  

Hold on To Your Music and Lisa of Willesden Lane are authored by Jura’s daughter Mona Golabek, herself a virtuoso concert pianist and radio host. Since early 2020, USC Shoah Foundation has partnered with Golabek’s Hold On To Your Music Foundation to bring a concert series, Willesden READS, to young people around the country.  

At each Willesden READS event, Golabek brings her mother’s story to life through a powerful theatrical performance and piano concert. More than one million students have participated in Willesden READS events since Golabek first launched the program in 2014. 

The arrival of Hold on To Your Music (for ages 4-8) and Lisa of Willesden Lane (for ages 6-10) rounds out a collection of previously released The Children of Willesden Lane books tailored to different age groups. 

Speaking of the context in which the books for younger readers are being released, Golabek said, “Now, more than ever, we need stories that encourage young people to stand up against prejudice, racism, and antisemitism; stories that compel us to help others and break down the walls that divide us; stories that inspire us to find our dreams even when faced with life’s greatest challenges.    

"And we need to impart those stories at the earliest age possible in order to enter the hearts and minds of our young readers. I am so grateful to have that opportunity through the new illustrated and chapter books Hold on To Your Music and Lisa of Willesden Lane," Golabek said.  

In response to the COVID-19 global health crisis, Willesden READS events are being streamed remotely rather than performed live at large concert venues, opening the potential to reach significantly more students. This program also includes professional development for teachers to effectively teach the books with students prior to the livestream performance and, through the efforts of local supporters, the provision of free books to students. Upcoming programs in Boston; Portland, Oregon; Cleveland; and New York City are expected to reach tens of thousands of students. 

Hold on To Your Music and Lisa of Willesden Lane are being published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Learn more about the publications.

USC Shoah Foundation