Charlotte’s Web

charlottesweb Charlottes WebFor our very last class, the students are busy finishing up their final projects so I like to lighten the reading load a bit. Charlotte’s Web has been my last class staple for several years, and I call it our dessert book. Of course, most of the students have already read it, but most years about a third haven’t, particularly those who didn’t grow up in the U.S.

If this was your first read, what did you think? Did it live up to its reputation as a classic? If this was a re-read, what did you notice this time that you might have missed before?

We’re also reading an article about E. B. White from the Smithsonian Magazine website that sheds some light on the origins of this book. Rather than dividing up this week’s reading, let’s discuss both the book and the article in the comments of this post.

share save 171 16 Charlottes Web
Lolly Robinson About Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is the designer and production manager for The Horn Book, Inc. She has degrees in studio art and children's literature and teaches children's literature at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogs for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.

Comments

  1. Sunny Zhang says:

    I loved the Smithsonian’s article about E.B. White. It was really inspiring and heartwarming to read about E.B. White’s passion and love for animals, like they were his kindred spirits. This knowledge was new to me and really adds another dimension and layer to his book that I truly appreciate. Makes me want to read the book more closely. It’s not just another children’s book about talking animals…it was E.B. White’s genuine expression of himself and those of the animals he held close to his heart.

  2. Stacy Tell says:

    I’ll admit, I never used to think much of Charlotte’s Web. Growing up, reading about animals never really interested me – I had no pets at home, and I never felt that connection that so many feel to their “extended family members.” I don’t even really remember the experience of reading it when I was young, just thrown to me as one of those classic stories that I had to read. This semester, though, I’ve been tutoring a fourth grade girl who adores animals, who sees them as “part of her world” in a way that parallels E.B. White’s feelings based on the article we read this past week. This is a student who lacked any sort of motivation to read anything, so I felt that entrenching her in a world of animals through this story could at least drive some excitement. I know that teachers are supposed to share materials that they themselves are passionate about as well, but I felt that I could, for lack of a better phrase, “suck it up” for the sake of my students interests. And thank god I did. Charlotte’s Web is more about the story of animals wrapped up in their world on the Zuckerman farm – it’s a story about the delicacy of the life cycle, a quiet discovery into the world of empathy, the importance of having and being a friend, and the reality of the young girl who eventually grows to explore other interests outside that of her beloved pig. My student was particularly frustrated with Fern, “Why does she keep leaving Wilbur? Who is Henry?” For her, this is supposed to be a story about the enjoyment of animals and the discovery of a great friendship. Yet Charlotte’s Web is one of those stories, that she will be able to read multiple times and grab new meaning from throughout the course of her life. I can’t expect her to understand all of the underlining meanings just yet, but as our conversations deepen throughout the book, and as she continues to grow and have experiences, she can be able to come back to Charlotte’s Web and expand on her thoughts even more.

    • Luisa Sparrow says:

      I enjoyed Charlotte’s Web as a child. It was not a book that I read over and over again, but I loved the friendship between Wilbur and Charlotte, and mourned the death of Charlotte at the end, even if it was just part of the circle of life. One thing I noticed this time around that I didn’t notice before was how Fern stopped coming to the farm so often as she grew older. It made me kind of sad. Of course, I guess it’s only natural for people’s childhood interests to wane, but it’s not cool to abandon friends like that! On another note, I tutor in the same room with Stacy, and as an outsider watching her and her student at work, I have also noticed a big change in her student’s motivation for reading as a result of this book. It’s so sweet to see her student eager to read more and more to find out what will happen to the characters!

  3. Andrea LeMahieu says:

    Having not read Charlotte’s Web since I was in elementary school, I was really excited to re-read the book and compare my childhood reading experience to my adult reading experience. Reading the book as an adult was a very enjoyable experience and the book was just as heart warming and charming as a I remembered. Yet, one thing that struck me in my “adult re-reading” of the book was the language that was used. Often phrases and words used dated, which considering the publication of the book is not a surprise. However, I could not help but wonder what impact this dated language might have on a child reading the book. Would children feel unconnected with the book because of this? Would some meaning of the book be lost?

  4. Corinne Fischer says:

    I am one of the very few that had not read Charlotte’s Web before this class. It was not a class reading in any of my elementary school classrooms and nothing compelled me to pick up the book independently. The talk I’ve heard around Charlotte’s Web has only been extremely positive, leading me to have high hopes when finally diving into this book and it did not disappoint. I have to admit that it was impossible for me to shake my teacher perspective while reading it and every time Charlotte defined a word for Wilbur I lit up thinking about all the opportunities for discussion around vocabulary. I agree with Andrea’s point about the language being dated, but Charlotte’s Web is a children’s literary classic. Students today may struggle to understand some of the dated language, but the same happens when reading Pride and Prejudice in high school. As teachers me must deliver the language of classics in a way that is exciting and accessible to our students. I feel teaching this way with Charlotte’s Web is easy to do since the story is so engaging to readers of any age.

  5. Jessica Jones says:

    I read Charlotte’s Web as a child and I will admit I didn’t feel positively happy or really negative about the book the first time I read it. It was one of those required texts the school district made us read so there wasn’t too much excitement around it. Now after reading it a second time and reading the Smithsonian’s article about E.B. White, I found the book to have a certain level of warmth and appeal that I didn’t feel reading Charlotte’s Web as a child. Like Corinne mentioned, maybe these new feelings were the result of my teacher perspective and Charlotte defining words for Wilbur or the Smithsonian article and the new knowledge about E.B. White. Either way I found Charlotte’s Web much more enjoyable and I wonder what new feelings I’ll have the next time I reread it.

    • Mark Loring says:

      I completely agree Jessica. I too read Charlotte’s web as a child and haven’t looked at it again since. I have a fond memory but not as fond as so many others. This book has immense warmth and the author’s voice seems to jump off the page. This book was largely used in my school for 5th graders so I never used it in my 4th grade classroom. I sincerely regret that. The discussions, activities, and writing possibilities filled my mind as I read. The depth of the characters is what I loved most. This is truly a book that meets its hype.

  6. Abigail Russo says:

    I admittedly don’t remember what I thought of Charlotte’s Web when I read it as a child, but considering I was absolutely obsessed with animals I can safely assume that I enjoyed it. Reading it again now, I can see how certain parts would have been fun or interesting in different ways as a child than as an adult. E.B. White captured certain elements with such simplicity and charm (“From one to two, Wilbur planned to sleep. From two to three, he planned to scratch itchy places by rubbing against the fence.”) and characterized the animals beautifully. Building off of Andrea’s comment, I think the way that Charlotte explains her more complex vocabulary to Wilbur may help kids digest different language than what they’re used to. I also wonder how much of the subtle or even dry humor would register with a young child. I’ve never taught and am pretty unfamiliar with what texts are appropriate for children and different reading levels, so I’d be curious to know how children took meaning from certain passages that I find funny or meaningful.

  7. Diwen Shi says:

    As I did not grow up in the US, I read Charlotte’s Web pretty late, when I was at middle school, I think. And of course I read the Chinese translated version at that time. So now, when I read the original version with the storyline in mind, I can focus on how E. B. White uses the English language to narrate this episode between a spider and a pig. I think the pace of the language works well with the peaceful atmosphere of the setting. But even so many years have passed, it is still imprinted as “a sad story” in my mind. I remember that I was very shocked at Charlotte’s death when I read it for the first time, and could not get over the ending for a few days. It was not a good experience. I would imagine if I read it when I was a little bit older, I would probably feel better. So I was wondering if American children could emotionally accept the sad ending of this book. Perhaps they can because they have not realized that every life comes to an end? Anyway, I would categorize this book as a classic rather than a children’s fairy tale.

  8. Kim Fernandes says:

    I came on here thinking there’d be a lot more people who had read the book and that I might not have anything to say about what it was like to read this book from a child’s perspective, but it is so interesting to see how people perceive this book as adults. I definitely agree that the Smithsonian’s article gave me a stronger sense of appreciation for all the work that had gone into this book and for E. B. White’s own perspective on animals, and I am glad I got to see how Fern’s character reflected some of White’s own love for animals. As an adult who loves animals tremendously, I thought often of what this book might be like for students who didn’t love animals as much, or who struggled with the words, but I was really fascinated to see that this book could also be used to introduce new vocabulary words to children (although I am concerned that not all of the wonderful language used in this book will be accessible to weaker readers).

  9. I’m a veteran fourth grade teacher and have done an E.B. White unit for decades (and written and talked about in various places). My kids love Charlotte’s Web (and White’s other two children’s books). I’ve been using it to introduce a scholarly way of looking at books and much of what I’ve been doing for years seems just what is being called for with the Common Core State Standards. (See this post: http://medinger.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/in-the-classroom-close-reading/) Just to say that it is an awesome book to look at closely with kids for language, theme, and so much more.

  10. Esther (Kyungeun) Lee says:

    This was my first time reading the book, and am sad that I never had the chance to read it growing up. Fern embodies the compassion, empathy, and morality that all children can learn from.
    The animals are also magical, relatable, and so lovable. Their conversations are actually philosophical and touch upon many thought-provoking, deep questions about life, love, nature, friendship, and truth. This book would be a perfect read aloud for early elementary schoolers who still have vivid imaginations.

  11. Janice Chong says:

    I’d read this book several times in my childhood, and remember loving it every time. I still love it as an adult because of the gentle way it pulls at the reader’s emotional strings. The piece is a classic because it is brilliantly put together to explore a range of emotions from fear and anxiety, to the sadness of loss, to hope and renewal. I’m surprised I enjoyed this book so much as an adult because I tend to have narrow preferences for enjoyable reads now, which usually doesn’t include fantasy (i.e., talking animals) but the book was just perfect and swept a wave of nostalgia over me.

  12. Carli Spina says:

    Going back to a beloved book from childhood can sometimes be a disappointing experience. Some books are best read a certain age and may not seem as magical when reread later, but despite this concern, I couldn’t wait to read and discuss Charlotte’s Web and I am happy to say that I found that it did hold up well. I remember loving the story of Charlotte and Wilbur and Fern (and Templeton who I remember always loving as a child). Reading it again as an adult, I think I did see it from a new perspective, particularly when combined with the article about E.B. White, but I could also remember exactly why I loved it as a child. I remember loving the characters and the way that Fern is taken seriously by her father and Dr. Dorian when she says that the animals talk. And, I remember loving the overall feeling of the story. While I agree that the language might be dated and unfamiliar for some, I actually remember liking that since it highlighted that it was a story from another time and another place (at least for someone who did not grow up on a farm).
    At its heart, it is a perfect story for animal lovers. Each of the animals is given their own personality that jumps off of the page and, perhaps best of all for children who love animals, Fern is able to communicate with them. When reading the Smithsonian article, I was particularly struck by the quotation “This boy felt for animals a kinship he never felt for people” which White wrote about himself. While Charlotte’s Web appeals to many children, I think that it particularly appeals to children who would be able to relate to this statement. Those whose love of animals makes them understand Fern’s decision to save WIlbur sight unseen and then make them fall in love with each of the animal characters as they are introduced. I think this is probably a bit of what Stacy’s student saw in the book, but I think it is probably what several generations of children have seen in the book as well.

  13. Sarah Thompson says:

    Several people have talked about the outdated language of this story–for me as an adult reader, this was an integral part of the overall charm and comfort of the story. I wonder though–wouldn’t it have been unfamiliar to children reading this book even just after it was published? After all, the phrasing is actually quite mature–yet is used by animals and children alike (as when Fern says, “This is the most terrible case of injustice I’ve ever heard of”). For me, this is what makes the characters so endearing–their absolute earnestness.

  14. Long Phan says:

    Like many, I read this book as a child, and thought it was a happy book about farm animals. But reading it again as an adult, I can more fully appreciate the larger themes of love and sacrifice.

    The cover of the book is iconic. Fern and Wilbur are front and center so it’s natural to think that this book is about a little girl and her pig. But it’s not about them at all. The real heroine of the story is a spider, and it’s amazing that E.B. White was able to turn a creature that people find so terrifying into a character that shows true friendship, unconditional love…and who eventually makes the ultimate sacrifice.

  15. My own first experience with this most celebrated of all American children’s books was having it read to me a chapter a week on Friday by my fourth grade teacher. I have used the book in various classes during my teaching career many times, and all my own five kids are big fans. It is captivating, the writing is magnificent, and its message is timeless. A true literary masterpiece.

  16. Dayna Lellis says:

    When I read this book as a child, I remember being relieved that Wilbur lives and saddened by the fact that Charlotte dies. But I don’t recall strongly liking or disliking the story. However, reading this book again as an adult, I love this story. I found the animals’ personalities entertaining, like the goose with her idiosyncratic speech and the brutally honest old sheep. The love that Charlotte and Wilbur have for each other, and the sacrifices that they made, gives the term friendship a deeper meaning. From an elementary teacher’s perspective, I appreciated the vocabulary terms, like “salutations” and “radiant” that are so conveniently defined by Charlotte in the story. I also found it interesting how White portrayed humans in the text. In the beginning, Fern is so involved with Wilbur and the others animals in the barn, but as she grows up, her friendship with Wilbur fades. Many people, children and adults alike, can relate to this. And finally, I chuckled when Charlotte said that it’s easy to fool humans because they’ll believe anything in print. I look forward to using this classic story in my teaching.

  17. Xinyi Qi says:

    It is a story written for kids. It is a story written for adults as well. It should have been an old-fashioned fairy tale, in which cute animals overcome all the obstacles and obtained the final victory. Mr. White wrote the death of a spider in such a sentimental way that breaks the stereotype of a fairy tale’s happy ending. Unlike other fairy tales that make children laugh, the ending of Charlotte’s web makes children cry. But the children’s tear is as precious as their laugh, since they have learned about kindness, about pity in the tears.

  18. Christina Grayson says:

    Several folks have mentioned the book’s language complexity and the potential for opportunity (per Common Core close reading) or challenge (is it accessible?) thereof. I have to agree–yes, all of the above. But the most remarkable thing about this book, I think, with all of its sometimes arcane vocabulary and syntax, is in a read-aloud. “Charlotte’s Web” is truly a language experience for adults and children alike. I’d argue that it is perfectly fine for children to not understand everything because some of the vocabulary is so archaic; I’ll admit to using context clues quite a few times. Rather, there is benefit in noticing the spots in which they do not understand for the sake of noticing what the White is doing with words. To read “Charlotte’s Web” is to immerse oneself in a world that is, as Sarah said, earnest and tender, and also not always transparent. I’ve been sharing this book with English language learners in an interactive read-aloud format, and rather than drowning in its complexity, I’ve found that the language makes them even more sensitive to meaning and hungry for vocabulary. The story is timeless and rich, and as someone who grew up having watched the fabulous-abulous-abulous cartoon version of the story but never having read the book, I fully appreciate its multitudes.

  19. Felicity Fu says:

    Reading the book when I first learnt English as a child, I was grateful for the vivid language and the idyllic life that the story portrays to students. I was able to learn new vocabulary with enthusiasm because the story was so interesting. Looking back, I finally understand the popularity of the book, as the author puts bigger themes of life in a simple setting and leaves room for readers to ponder upon the purest emotions of humans. This book brings me back to many beautifully written children and adolescent books set in rural backgrounds, with relationships and attachments to the close-knit community and its members.

  20. Robin TF says:

    Ah, Charlotte’s Web. Recommended to a young me by teacher after teacher because they knew I loved animals.

    But I never liked it.

    I will say that it was one of the primary reasons I — to this day — will not kill a spider. Perhaps also instrumental in my becoming a vegetarian at age 10. (Well, that and the “Lisa the Vegetarian” episode of The Simpsons). But in spite of its influence, I didn’t like Charlotte’s Web as a child. It made me inconsolably sad. The moments of sadness and anxiety seemed to outweigh the moments of joy. And even the joyful moments were bittersweet. And it made me feel helpless, because these animals are situated not in a fantasy world but in our own reality where farm animals are killed regularly.

    So I was interested to read it again as an adult. I appreciated the beauty of it this time around. The rhythmic language, Garth Williams’s lovely illustrations (I love his work on the Little House series), the detailed descriptions of farm life that take me back to childhood summers at my grandfather’s farm… But I understand why I didn’t love it as a child. I still found that for me it lay somewhere between sad and bittersweet. There aren’t highs and lows, just mediums and lows. This is something that I can appreciate and enjoy as an adult, but which I found difficult as a child. I’m glad I had the opportunity to revisit it and appreciate it.

    • Lindsey Horowitz says:

      Like Nancy, I was touched by the beauty and simplicity of the illustrations during this read-through. I think that the illustrations make the text even more accessible to young readers (because, as Andrea points out, there is some difficult language present), by providing a visual that lacks some of the gravity of the text and that can sometimes even be a little silly. For example, students might read the scene in which Wilbur tries to weave his own web very seriously because of how frustrated Wilbur becomes, but the accompanying illustration shows how comical the situation actually is.
      That being said, I think the text itself is a wonderful exploration of farm life and its possibilities. As Dr. Dorian explains, these miracles may seem sensational to us, but perhaps we are just not listening closely.

  21. Nancy Fan says:

    As a child, I read E. B. White’s three children’s books one after another, and for a while rated The Trumpet of the Swan as much more preferable than Charlotte’s Web. Looking back, I suppose it was because Charlotte’s death upset me so deeply, I disliked having to reread and revisit it, while the heartwarming, humorous adventure of Louis the swan (no deaths; happy, resolved endings) held no such dangers. Rereading Charlotte’s web after so many years, I found myself picking up different details. I barely noticed Fern when I was younger, since she seemed boring to me, a mere plot function, and the animals seemed much more important. But now, I enjoyed the vignettes of a girl growing up interspaced between the animal story lines. I also saw the loving teacherly or parental role that Charlotte assumes, beyond that of mere friendship, which, I suppose, a young child might not fully recognize and appreciate.

  22. Anna Weerasinghe says:

    I hated this book when I read it for the first time in third grade. Or perhaps it would be better to say: I hated the ending, when Charlotte dies. I can remember crying, and my parents being helpless to comfort me. “She was just a spider,” my mother tried to explain. “Spiders don’t live very long. It’s normal.” This time around, I still felt deeply saddened by Charlotte’s courageous death and her concluding words: “After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die…by helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.” As human beings, we experience loss – friends, parents, people in our lives fall away as we grow older. Often a child’s first experience with death comes in the form of an animal friend, as animals (usually) have shorter life spans. In fact, we – and by “we” I mean parents, teachers, authors, the community at large – encourage children to mourn for pets and animals as we do human beings, Charlotte being a prime example: she is personified in such depth, I believe it is impossible not to feel her death. She is no normal spider, so no wonder my parents couldn’t convince me to stop being sad about Charlotte’s death because it was “normal.” Schama’s article about the origins of Charlotte’s Web made me wonder: when does that stop? When does a spider become “just” a spider and not someone worthy of grief? Several people above have commented on Fern’s friendship with Wilbur, and how it fades as she grows older. E.B. White seems to have avoided this side effect of growing up, maintaining (as Michael Sims put it) “empathy for the whole world.” I am no educator, but rereading this book made me nostalgic for the way I saw the world as a child: so full of life, I would apologize to the front steps of my house if I accidentally kicked them. I wonder, if we could all hang on to just a fragment of that empathy as adults, whether history would be different.

  23. Alexandra Fish says:

    I’ve always had an affinity for this story, primarily because we performed this play in 6th grade and I very proudly played the goose. My childhood memories of Charlotte’s Web centered more around this performance and the movie version, although I do recall reading it as a child. When I was younger, I appreciated the book more for the plot and the interesting animal characters rather than E. B. White’s writing style and use of language. Reading this book as an adult was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, as these more subtle elements came to light as I read. Additionally, the Smithsonian article provided an interesting insight into White’s writing and his connection with the natural world. Had I not read this supplemental piece, I doubt I would have looked so closely at White’s simple but beautiful descriptions of Wilbur’s life on the farm.

  24. AnneMarie M. says:

    I love this book but I agree with Jessica that reading it as an adult, especially after having taken this class, gives the book new meaning. Charlotte’s Web was a required reading for me too, and as a young child I didn’t appreciate the complexity of the story or the underlying depth of the friendship being demonstrated. The Smithsonian article also gives a new depth to the work – it is compelling to think about how White’s empathy with people might have been different with his empathy for animals and how they may have made him such an incredible author – especially for children.

  25. Ashley Foxworth says:

    Like Stacey, I read this book as a child but wasn’t that into it. I was so caught up in the fact that it was all about animals–and I never was an animal person–and got annoyed by all the girls, especially, in my class being so into all of the cute little animals. Based on my foggy memories of reading it in elementary school, I’ve often questioned what’s so special about “Charlotte’s Web”? But as an adult I see why it is a classic. The story is simple but poignant, the language is beautiful, themes that run through the book are universal, and the characters (especially the animals, I must now admit) are so well developed. All the characters have cute little quirks–for instance, I love how the goose repeats herself so much. Reading the book as an adult was an enjoyable experience. I’m grateful that I did.

  26. Nell O'Donnell says:

    Somehow I keep missing the 5 PM deadline for these posts! Well, whether it counts or not, I wanted to share that I realized about a quarter of the way into this book that I must never have read it. I saw the movie as a child, but since I didn’t go to an English-language elementary school and read few English books until I was older, I missed this one. I suppose I knew from seeing the movie that the book was about death, but reading it now, I was really struck by just how entirely the book is about death (fear of it, accepting it). I think people get caught up in Charlotte’s death (which is of course so important to the story), but forget that the first page is about death, the third chapter (or so) is about Wilbur learning that he is supposed to die, and the rest about staving off death.

  27. Kathleen Zheng says:

    I remember reading Charlotte’s Web as a kid in elementary school and I could not figure out why Charlotte never got the attention and praise she deserved from the humans. I just could not wrap my mind around why spiders were not seen as living creatures too, especially when the messages were written in a spider’s web. When Mr. Zuckerman saw Charlotte’s first message, which read “some pig,” he initially made an attempt to connect it with Charlotte (“‘You don’t suppose that spider…’”), but then he simply “shook his head” and put all the focus on having a “very unusual pig” (pg. 79).

    But reading this book again as an adult, I realized that there are many lessons embedded throughout the story. Heroes and good friends don’t always have to be publicly praised and celebrated to do good works. Both Charlotte are Fern were good friends to Wilbur and saved his life, and they never asked for anything in return. At the same time, there’s also the lesson that we should try not to be so blind to reality like the humans in the book. Charlotte foreshadowed how “stupid” humans were and how they were easy to trick way back when she first came up with the idea. Charlotte knew that, as a tiny little insect, no one would ever suspect her of creating the miracle messages. And I suppose the very first chapter where Fern saves the newborn Wilbur is another lesson on giving people of all sizes and shapes a chance. Wilbur was thought to be “small and weak” and very likely to die, according to Mr. Arable, but Wilbur’s long and happy life turned out to prove otherwise (pg. 1).

  28. Similar to Long’s experience, I also only now, as an adult, was able to really appreciate the underlying themes of love and sacrifice that resonate throughout Charlotte’s Web. The choice of language, which many have mentioned, is something that I enjoyed as a child and enjoyed while re-reading the story as an adult. White’s use of language has the ability to transport you to a different time and place. Also, like Corinne mentioned, I think that Charlotte defining words for Wilbur could be a great opportunity to discuss vocabulary with a young reader. The instructional elements and serious topics (life, death, love) throughout the story could arguably, be considered one of the more complex children’s books we have explored this semester. The Smithsonian article enabled me to appreciate the book even more, because it signaled many of the subtleties that were incorporated into White’s descriptions. Overall, it was enjoyable to revisit this classic children’s story.

  29. Stacey-Ann Morris says:

    Growing up, this was actually one of my favorite books. I remember wishing I had a barn full of talking animals, that I could share my secrets and moments with. I also remember telling my parents that we shouldn’t eat bacon anymore, and that we should go vegetarian. I can say that my parents didn’t take me too seriously!

    Now, re-visiting the book, one theme that really stuck with me is the concept of life and death. In the chapter, “Last Day”, Charlotte tells Wilbur “After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die.” I think this is an interesting quote, and perhaps a great opportunity to have classroom discussions on mortality with children. Many times, we tend to shy away from these discussions, but I think there are ways to create healthy conversations about with children.

  30. Cami Gordon says:

    I too loved Charlotte’s Web as a child and was really struck by the Smithsonian article as it made the fictional tale of a spider and pig so much more real for me. Rereading it for this class shed new light on a book I felt I knew very well. I especially agree with Stacey-Ann’s comment about the “Last Day” chapter. As a child, I don’t remember this chapter having such an apparent grappling with life and death and I wonder if it had been brought to my attention where the conversation could have gone.

  31. Ashley Szofer says:

    I don’t have much of a personal remembrance of Charlotte’s Web as a book from my childhood; although, I do remember watching a movie version of it frequently. I don’t think I was a kid who particularly loved animal stories, and I always thought Fern was a weird name. But maybe because I thought it was weird, I named myself Fernie Fernie when my sister and I played princesses (yeah, I was a weird kid).

    But I digress. Reading this again was a delight (and a great break from all of the policy I’ve been reading). I love the story of the unlikely friendship, and this is a story that deals with loss in a healthy way that invites discussion on the part of parents or teachers. It reads well, and it was also really entertaining to hear how much went into the writing of this article by E.B. White. It’s such a classic tale with great reason for being so with it’s deep themes of love, friendship, and loss.

  32. Zohra Manjee says:

    I remember Charlotte’s Web was the first chapter book I read that featured animals as central characters. Re-reading this book as an adult, with the added perspective of the Smithsonian article, I found a renewed appreciation for this classic story. Even though the only pets I had growing up were fish, I remember feeling very connected to the bonds in this story and experiencing a range of emotions when I read this as child. Additionally, the vivid imagery and sincere characterization of these charming animals really made me nostalgic as I re-read this story was able to explore the larger embedded themes.

Speak Your Mind

*