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Read Aloud Thursday–The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White


I just finished reading E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan yesterday during our lunchtime read-aloud session.  I have a very faint memory of owning this book when I was a child, but that’s it.  This book really surprised me:  both the girls and I enjoyed it immensely.  (Why am I surprised by this?  It is E.B. White, after all.)  For those who are unfamiliar with this well-known tale, it is the story of Louis the Trumpeter Swan who was born unable to make a sound.  With the help of a nature-loving boy named Sam Beaver, Louis works around his handicap and learns to read and write in order to communicate.  This is all well and good for communicating with humans, of course, but not for communicating with other swans, especially those of the female gender.  Louis’ father then takes matters into his own hands (wings?) and procures a trumpet for Louis, and after this, Louis becomes a famous and wealthy swan.  Louis does what he sets out to do in the end, though, and returns to the wild with his true love, Serena, and their growing family. 

This story is told in E.B. White’s trademark style that still chokes me up (to the amazement and confusion of my girls).  Although it’s not a three-hanky book like Charlotte’s Web, there is something about White’s description of nature in this story that just gets me right in the heart.  The character Sam Beaver, a quiet and observant boy who keeps a journal and thinks of one question to ponder over before going to sleep each night, provides a perfect inroad to the animal world.  This is a fantastical story of talking animals, but parts of it (particularly the descriptions of the natural world) are firmly rooted in reality.  Although it is a long story of just about 250 pages, Lulu (age 5) and Louise (age 3 3/4) both listened eagerly and patiently and even asked for another chapter just about every time we stopped reading.  The grin on Lulu’s face when we finished it was so sweet–priceless!

The thing I enjoyed most about sharing this book with my girls was the identification they had with Louis as he learned to play his trumpet.  Both girls have taken music since they were younger than two years old, and Lulu graduated to a group piano class in the spring.  The class is based on solfege singing (“do re me” singing), so when I read the solfege for the song Louis was playing, their faces lit up.  It was perfect!

This is the third E.B. White book we’ve read, and while I would never say that this one is better than Charlotte’s Web, I think it is a close second to us.  The language is a little simpler in this one than it is in Stuart Little, so it is more accessible to younger children.  The Trumpet of the Swan gets a definite Highly Recommended!

What have you been reading with your family this week?  Leave a comment or a link to your own Read Aloud Thursday blog post!  (Snag the button, too, if you want.)

Have a happy Read Aloud Thursday!


10 Responses

  1. I may need to put that in the pile soon. We’re still working through By the Shores of Silver Lake … there are those long descriptive passages about the building of the railroad and those are harder for mine to sit through. Lots of description!

  2. (I confess, I didn’t get a Read Aloud post up this week.)

    It’s been a long time since I’ve read Trumpet of the Swan and my personal recollection was, “Not as good as Charlotte’s Web.” But I really LOVE Charlotte and I think I read it on the tails of that. Perhaps it’s due for a re-read – spaced out a bit. I bet Bookworm1 would like it (very much).

    Enjoyed your post!

  3. I’m just curious how you work your lunch-time read aloud time? With my 5 and 2 year old, it seems that I hardly get to eat lunch before they are finished. I love the idea of reading aloud around the table, but I don’t know how to make it work.

    I enjoyed your homeschooling re-cap post, too. We are also starting “official” homeschooling this year, but in a few weeks since we just moved and need to get organized first. ( :

    • My girls have just come to expect a post-lunch read-aloud session. In fact, they often remind me to pick up the book (as if I would forget 😉 ). I finish eating before they do, usually. If I don’t, they just linger. I’m not sure why this happens, but we have been doing it for a while, so maybe it’s just habit/expectation now.

      I hope you have a great year!

  4. […] for Moms)20. 5M4B (Offworld)21. 5M4B (Let’s Sing Together)22. Deanna/ibeeeg (Lament)23. Amy @ Hope Is the Word (The Trumpet of the Swan)24. Deanna/ibeeeg (HP – The Sorcerer’s Stone))25. Deanna/ibeeeg (Pirates!)26. Amy @ Hope […]

  5. […] finished our last chapter book read-aloud and I picked up our next read-aloud without so much as a cursory preview.  (To tell the truth, I […]

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