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When Rubin Plays

When Rubin Plays

illustrated by Gracey Zhang

Rubin, an aspiring violinist, ventures into the forest to practice and is visited by creatures who appreciate his music as it is, helping him find his strength and voice.
When Rubin Plays

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Talk with students about how they feel when they express themselves or do things that communicate their identity or individuality. Rubin shows great joy in expressing himself through the music he makes with his violin, especially when he practices in the forest.

Ask students to draw their own version of Rubin’s forest–the place where they feel the most comfortable and free to express themselves. Have students present their drawings to their classmates and share what the location means to them. Students who want to share more can talk about what activities they like to do in this special place.

To provide an extension or an alternative to drawing, students could create a soundscape of their special place or write a song that celebrates their special place and the activities they enjoy there.

Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing

  1. Why do you think Rubin wants to learn to play with the orchestra? What role do you think Rubin’s sister Isabel played in inspiring him to learn to play the violin?
  2. What is an activity that you feel passionate about? Why? How does sharing your passion with others make you feel?
  3. What differences do you notice between how Rubin practices in the orchestra room and how he plays in the forest?
  4. Think of a time when you had to work hard to learn something new. How did you push yourself to keep going? How did it feel to accomplish your goal?
  5. How did the cats help encourage Rubin to keep practicing? Who in your life gives you encouragement?

Related Resources

Resources to inspire perseverance from Common Sense Media
Watch PBS KIDS Talk About: Perseverance

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