Written By: Rachel Isadora
Explore Illustrations and Text:
Look over the cover and illustrations with your child before beginning your read-through. Ask your child these questions about what s/he predicts will happen:
What do you think will happen in this story?
What do you notice about the cover and the other pictures in the book?
What do you notice about Ben’s trumpet?
What kind of music do you think Ben likes to play on his trumpet?
Ben’s Trumpet is about a boy’s love of jazz music and more specifically, the trumpet. Engage your child in a discussion about music by asking, “What kind of music do you like to listen to? If you could play an instrument, what would it be? Why?” If your child is already learning to play an instrument, ask, “Do you like playing the ________? If you could play another instrument, what would it be? Why?”
As You Read
This story has a few words and phrases that relate to jazz music and the 1920s when the story takes place, so allow your child to pause when s/he comes across a word or phrase that they are unfamiliar with. Encourage him/her to discover their meanings using the words and illustrations surrounding them. Examples of new words and phrases in Ben’s Trumpet include:
- THE CAT’S MEOW
- RED HOT PIECE
For fun, try using these vocabulary words in everyday conversation with your child. “____, your artwork is the cat’s meow! Before you know it, I’ll be visiting your works in a museum!”
Connecting events in the book to your child’s own experiences is a great way to help your child relate to the story and its characters. Ask if parts of the story remind him/her of something that has occurred in his/her own life. For example, when Ben is teased for playing his imaginary trumpet, ask your child, “Have you ever been teased for doing something that you like? How did that make you feel? What did you do? What do you think Ben will do?”
Summarize and Interpret:
Ask your child these questions to ensure comprehension and further discuss the story that you have just read.
What was your favorite part of the story? Why?
Where does Ben play his imaginary trumpet?
Why did he like to stop by the Jazz Club? What did he see there?
Why did he stop playing his trumpet? What happened to change his mind?
Ben’s Trumpet is a testament to the power of a child’s imagination as well as the kindness of others so touch upon both of these topics by asking, “How did Ben use his imagination to play music? Do you use your imagination when you play? How? Why do you use your imagination?” With regard to the kindness of others, ask, “Why do you think the trumpeter helped Ben? How do you think that made Ben feel? Have you ever helped someone who was feeling sad? What did you do? How do you think they felt when you helped them?”
Activity: Homemade Guitar
Adapted from Busy Bee Kids Crafts
Supplies: An empty tissue box (or any box with a lid), rudder bands (different sizes and colors), a paper towel roll, scissors, a straw, tape, paint and a paintbrush
This is a fun activity to do with your child that will let your child jam out like Ben!
- Let your child paint the tissue box and towel roll however they like. Once the paint has dried, cut 1” slits into the end of the paper roll and bend the flaps outward. This is how you will be able to attach the handle onto the guitar.
- Wrap rubber bands around the tissue box. Cut the straw to fit the width of the box and slide it under the rubber bands slightly below the opening in the box.
- Attach the handle of the guitar by sliding it underneath the rubber bands on the top of your box. Then tape around the handle to secure it. Now your child is ready to make some music!