Acclaimed actress Angela Bassett is joining her colleagues as a reader for Storyline Online. The platform streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations. Bassett is bringing to life the true story of New Orleans musician Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews in Trombone Shorty. Written by Andrews and illustrated by Bryan Collier, this vibrant 2016 Caldecott Honor book is a tale of music, cuisine, culture and family.
“Some of the kids that read my book don’t even realize that I’m a real person. They see themselves in these characters that are their age, and then when they see me perform live, they can’t believe I’m the same person as the kid in the book,” Andrews explains. “I’m very proud of the book, it’s a personal story about coming up as a young musician playing in New Orleans, and I wanted to reach kids. One of the best rewards is when a kid comes up to me after a show and says they play trombone because they read my book. It’s great when it all comes full circle like that because it shows that music and following your heart can lead you to so many of the places you dream of.”
In 2013, Andrews founded The Trombone Shorty Foundation whose mission is to transform young lives through the power of music while also passing down the unique musical culture of New Orleans to the next generation.
No Place Like It
Bassett chose the book because it shows how the talent and perseverance of even one person can affect an entire community—and she hopes young readers will be inspired to visit New Orleans one day, if they haven’t already.
“I love this book,” Bassett says, “because even coming from a simple neighborhood that may not have a lot, you can have such a big impact on the world. You can travel and you can always come home and be an inspiration to your own neighborhood. And New Orleans—there’s no place like it. The people, no matter if they’re black or white, rich or poor, they always have a ‘where y’at’ for one another.”
Trombone Shorty is accompanied by a complementary activity guide to strengthen verbal, written and comprehension skills. Aimed at 2nd – 3rd grade students, these activities encourage children to engage in critical thinking activities and explore the themes of this book including cultural diversity, contribution, and the arts.
An Emmy-nominated program of the non-profit SAG-AFTRA Foundation, Storyline Online streams 60 videos at no cost to children, parents, and educators worldwide. The site receives over 20 million views every month and is endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers, and named one of the best websites of 2019 by the American Association of School Librarians. Other readers include Oprah Winfrey, Rami Malek, Viola Davis, Allison Janney, Chris Pine, Kristen Bell, Justin Theroux, Michelle Yeoh, Marc Maron and more.
Top photo courtesy of SAG-AFTRA Foundation.