by E. B. White, published 1952
“You have been my friend…That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life anyway? We’re born, we live a little, we die…By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle.”
I’ve put off reading the children’s book, Charlotte’s Web till now because I didn’t want to be disappointed. I love the other books by E. B. White, and this one is too popular, plus, I’d seen the movie. Now I’ve read it, and…I’m both glad I did, and, so sorry there was a movie to ruin it for me. Part of the beauty of reading children’s literature is swimming in the imagination, the language. Once a movie has entered one’s mind, the characters talk and sound and look like the movie, not like my own creation.
That being said, as usual E. B. White creates wonderful animal characters, with soul, purpose, and positive messages that children can grow with. I found this particular children’s book much simpler than his others, such as the Trumpet of the Swan. It is not a deep, philosophical book for kids. It’s a simple tale of friendship. It’s also a small commentary on the way we treat animals, and how little humans understand them, really.
If you have a young child, and can keep them away from the media, this is a lovely book to read out loud with them, allowing the big questions of life and death to arise and be held in safety. I would say keep it for the 8-year-olds and up. Older children of course could easily read this on their own. I think even up to age 11, a young child who had not encountered the book would enjoy it. And if the kids have seen the movie, well then, read it anyway. It still speaks to the heart.