Tag Archive | Charlotte’s Web

Great American Read 6-10

So I talked about the top 5 books in the Great American Read on Wednesday. Today I’ll talk about books 6-10. This is a short hot take on the books.

#10 Jane Eyre

I actually really loved this book. It has brilliant commentary on race, class, and gender. Is it in my top ten? No. I think this is another maybe people actually love it/maybe they just think they should entry on the list.

#9 The Chronicles of Narnia series

Loved them as a kid, they’ve been ruined for me as an adult because of how heavy handed the allegory is. WE GET IT. But while I will share The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe with the girls, I’m not going to push the rest of the series. That book seven ends with the Rapture, and that Susan is left out because she wears makeup is shit. I think it’s on the list because people have warm fuzzy memories of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

#8 Little Women

I actually took an entire grad school class on Little Women. It’s a good book, but I think it’s on the top ten because people think they’re supposed to like it, or have warm fuzzy memories of it from childhood.

#7 Charlotte’s Web

This is also a warm fuzzy from childhood. I have trouble believing that so many adults think of a kids book as the best book ever. That said, I blubbered when reading this with my daughter, who stayed dry eyed through Charlotte’s death scene.

#6 Gone With the Wind

I have a nostalgic relationship with Gone With the Wind because I first read it at eleven. I used to identify strongly with Scarlett when I was a young teen. But as I got older, I saw what a child she still was. But that was before I really started thinking about race and gender and history carefully. I now see it for all of it’s racist, problematic themes. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it helped form me. But like the other four books, I think there was a lot of I should like this book or I’ve heard of this book driving its place on the list.

 

Book Review: Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 3.46.36 PMCharlotte’s Web by E.B. White

5/5 stars

Ellie likes read alouds–she likes picture books, and she’ll sit in for her sister’s board books.  But over the past year and a half, we’ve slowly started to introduce chapter books into the read aloud repertoire.  This past week we finished “Charlotte’s Web.”

First I’ll let Elanor talk to you about the book.  This is a longer video than the past two have been, and I provided more scaffolding.  Given the length and complexity of the book, Ellie needed support.

In reading chapter books to Elanor, I’ve had the opportunity to look back at my childhood.  Some books like Fantastic Mr. Fox are much scarier, others are badly written (see my snarking nostalgia column), and some books–like Beezus and Ramona–are just boring.

Charlotte’s Web is sadder.  So. Much. Sadder. than I remembered it being.  Reading it as an adult, and knowing what’s coming makes you so much more alert to nuance.  More than once, I felt choked up or found myself blinking back tears.  Prepare yourself accordingly.

As a child, I don’t know that I appreciated the richness of the language that White uses throughout the book. Words like salutations, injustice, and languishing are a welcome change.  You won’t find overuse of the word “said” as you do in other children’s literature.  It is a joy to read.

I remember appreciating that he didn’t dumb the book’s vocabulary down just because kids were going to read it–or the subject matter.

Wilbur’s life is in danger from the first chapter, and the reader knows that Wilbur may actually end up on someone’s plate.  Few expect Charlotte to die.  I’m relatively sure that this is the first book I read in which I lost a beloved character.  Some kids will need preparation–others may surprise you.  I was a bit concerned about reading it aloud to Elanor–she’s a really sensitive little girl–but she was fine while I was tearing up during Charlotte’s death scene.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to show Ellie the animated and live action versions of Charlotte’s Web so that she can give you her opinion about which she liked best.  I’ll introduce the idea of faithful adaptation so that she can evaluated if they are faithful.  I don’t really remember if the cartoon is terribly faithful, but I do remember loving the music.  I’ve never seen the live version so I have no idea what I’m in for.

I think five is about as young an age where this is a good real aloud.  The upper limit of the age depends on the purpose for which you’re reading it.  This is a book that belongs on any bookcase, whether you have children or not.