Looking for for something to read? “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White is a great choice for any child who likes animals. Below is why.
The book explores themes of friendship and loyalty. Wilbur is a lonely piglet without any friends or family in the farmyard. Eventually he forms a friendship with Charlotte, a wise and kindly resident spider. The farmer intends to send Wilbur to the butcher, and Charlotte promises to help save him from this fate.
“Charlotte’s Web” also profiles the relationships we, as humans, have with our pets.
2. Our relationship with animals
Set in a busy farmyard, with lots of animals, Charlotte’s Web examines people’s relationships with nature and animals. Wilbur, the pig, and Fern, the young girl in the novel, become very attached to one another. It is Fern’s intervention at the beginning of the novel that saves Wilbur’s life. Her father, the farmer Mr Arable, wishes to get rid of Wilbur as he is the runt of the litter.
We can see here, and throughout the book, contrasting views about humans and their views of nature. Mr Arable sees his animals as assets and expendable. Whereas Fern and Wilbur enjoy a strong emotional bond which provides companionship and happiness to both.
3. Life cycles and death
The book allows children to gain a better understanding of life cycles. In “Charlotte’s Web” both birth and death are seen as a natural and essential part of life. The farm, which provides most of the setting for the book, revolves around life cycles. Animals are born in the Spring, and we have to accept that they also pass away.
The most moving scene in the novel for many children, is near the end of the story, when Charlotte dies but leaves her unborn babies in Wilbur’s care. Of course parents/carers need to be aware of this too so they can judge when their child is ready to read the story.
4. Teamwork and persistence
“Charlotte’s Web” is a great story of teamwork and persistence. Charlotte, Wilbur and even the unlikeable rat Templeton, have to team up to enact Charlotte’s plan to save Wilbur. As the plan starts to be enacted the other animals in the farmyard also support it. The plan is enacted over time, and requires repeated persistence to be successful.
Charlotte shows persistence and determination throughout the story. She needs it in order to spin her web, create the words that will save Wilbur and to preserve her eggs.
5. An appreciation of spiders
Many children just don’t like spiders. “Charlotte’s Web” is responsible for allowing many children to appreciate these animals or at least be less afraid of them.
6. The power of language
Words can have an enormous power.
“Charlotte’s Web” shows the potential that language can have.
Charlotte spins words in her web, which hugely impact the way that the humans in the story think about Wilbur and ultimately save his life.
The words also help save Wilbur on an emotional as well as physical level. Receiving praise, boosts his self esteem and confidence and empower him to love Charlotte’s children.
Of course, ironically, the descriptive words that Charlotte spins also reflect her. In reality it is Charlotte that is the “radiant” and “humble” personality.
7. Celebration of childhood and growing up
Ultimately this is a story about growing up.Depending on the maturity of the child, it is suitable to read from ages 7 and up.