I facilitate a book group for 9-11 year olds and this month we are reading Charlotte’s Web. It was my first “big girl” book when I was a child. So charmed by it, I do believe it set me on the path to becoming a lifelong reader. And it’s hard to be a writer if you’re not a reader. It’s an important book for me on so many levels.
I’m reading it aloud to my kids and falling deeply in love with it all over again. I have not read it since I was about 11. I love how the book is not fearful of tackling difficult issues, specifically death. Wilbur the pig finds out the plan for him to be slaughtered, and Charlotte the barn spider tells him to stop wigging out. She “can’t stand hysterics.”
Charlotte isn’t all warm and fuzzy. She reminds me of some of the best people I know and have known. They aren’t prone to sentiment, there is a dryness to their humor, but they love me and have my back. They wouldn’t presume to know what my life is like, but they do unflinchingly know my heart. They show up.
The three of us cuddle up on the big chair to read. I love that my children are hearing Charlotte’s words out of their mother’s mouth. I want her wisdom to seep into their bones. Everything we love, we will eventually lose. I want them to know that loving is worth it. I hope this book about a spider and a pig can in some way prepare them. So when they experience losses, and they will, they’ll know it’s a part of life. It is okay. All will be well.
I was inspired to pick Charlotte’s Web for this month’s read by this beautiful interview on NPR.
Thank you E.B. White. Your brilliance lives on in your stories.