When author E.B. White recorded the final audiobook chapter of Charlotte’s Web, he couldn’t get past Charlotte’s death without crying.
It took him 17 tries.
Oh, how we understand!
For twelve years (maybe more), the children and I have read Charlotte’s Web every spring. I cry every time.
It seems like only yesterday that I posted a note about our reading in 2008. That curly-haired three year-old will be turning fifteen in a few days.
The time is coming for me to pull our copy of Charlotte’s Web off the shelves for our annual reading. My friend, Steph, just called and said she has started the tradition with her sweet daughters, too.
We begin reading when the lilacs are blooming by the swing-set. I read on a quilt under the scented bush, the kids crowding around to glimpse Garth Williams exquisite illustrations. It’s a special treat to visit the pigs at the Grange Fair at the end of August… we keep our eye open for Charlotte’s daughters.
We’ll never forget the day the pigs escaped!
Several years ago, our nephews kept their pigs in our barn. We spread the blanket under the lilac bush and were set to read when we realized that the three pigs had escaped. We left the book and ran up to the barn. While the children waited outside, I called out to God for help. I am a farm girl ONLY in my imagination: when it comes to actually interacting with animals, I’m timid and awkward. So, I fearfully guided the pigs down the hallway to their stall.
Would they revolt?
Would they attack me?
Each step in the right direction was both uncertain and wondrous. As if an angel led them, the pigs filed into their pen without a fuss. I fastened the latch and breathed a sigh of relief.
The kids and I returned to the book and COULD NOT BELIEVE OUR EYES when the next chapter was titled, “Escape.”
Good books are like that… coming to life in magical ways and becoming part of our story.
Ideas for a Charlotte’s Web Book Party
Last year, we invited some friends to join us for a Charlotte’s Web book party. (I got the idea from the brilliant Julie Bogart.) We planned it a month ahead of time so each family could read the book (or listen to the audiobook or watch the movie…)
Share favorite passages: We began by reading our favorite passages up in the barn. I read the first several paragraphs of Chapter 3. I wanted the kids to smell the hay, to hear the chickens, and to see the barn swallows darting about while they listened to E.B. White’s description of the Zuckerman’s barn.
“It was the kind of barn that swallows like to build their nests in. It was the kind of barn that children like to play in. And the whole thing was owned by Fern’s uncle, Mr. Homer L. Zuckerman.”
Enjoy a “Wilbur’s Slops Buffet”: From the passages in the book that list the content’s of Wilbur’s slops, I made a menu for our buffet. It was a hit.
Kellog’s Corn Flakes
Bits of doughnut
Leftover custard pudding
Make Sculpy Pigs: This tutorial will help you and your kids create adorable little pigs as a momento.
Have a web-building contest: Give each team a roll of masking tape to build a web in a doorway. Then, toss bugs (black puff balls) at the web and see how many get stuck!
Watch the 2006 movie: I adore this adaptation of the book and we’ve watched it many, many times. It’s precious in every way. Be sure to watch the “Behind the Scenes” features to see how the directors worked with animals and even had a magical moment of their own as they showed up to film one morning when baby spiders were ballooning into the air!