Day 27 SOLSC: Charlotte’s Web

At bedtime tonight my daughter and I finished the last few chapters of Charlotte’s Web.

I knew that the sad part was coming. I braced myself for it.

Lily knew it was coming too. As soon as Charlotte decided to get in the crate with Wilbur, Lily curled up under her covers and hid her face. She sensed that something was going to happen to Charlotte. She knew that Wilbur would be fine.

Even though I braced myself, the final chapters still took my breath away.

I haven’t read Charlotte’s Web in many years, though it is probably my all-time favorite book from my childhood. Maybe my favorite book ever.

I remember hearing somebody say (I wish I could remember who – was it you, Lester Laminack? Or maybe it was somebody else?) that Charlotte’s Web is a book you can read again and again. It should never be designated as belonging to one single grade level in a school. You can read it when you’re seven, like my daughter, and take away one thing. Then again when you are seventeen, and then again at seventy and every time is different.

This time, I noticed that again and again, Wilbur tries hard to live up to the words on Charlotte’s web: some pig, radiant, terrific, humble… and because the web says the word, people see it in him.

If you’ve been lucky enough to have a mentor (or two… or three) than you know the experience of having somebody, like Charlotte, who announces to the world that you are terrific–and because they said it, other people believe that it must be true and you try your best to live up to it.

This winter one of my friends and mentors, Kathleen, passed away unexpectedly. As I read Charlotte’s Web this time, I realized that she was Charlotte. I am Wilbur, just trying to live up to what she said to be true of me.

I cried a little harder than I really wanted my daughter to see when I read that sad part tonight, thinking about Kathleen and all the beautiful webs she created in her too-short lifetime.

Join my coauthors and I at Two Writing Teachers for the March Slice of Life Story Challenge!
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4 thoughts on “Day 27 SOLSC: Charlotte’s Web

  1. I didn’t know Kathleen, but I know how many people are grieving for her these past weeks. She seems like a true friend and brilliant educator. I’m sorry for your loss.

    I’m glad you found her in a book, and even better that it was a book you were reading with your daughter. Powerful lessons that we see ourselves and others in the books we read.

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  2. I loved what you said about Kathleen being Charlotte. What an apt comparison. Kathleen will live on in many people’s hearts for many years to come.

    As an aside, don’t read Peace Is An Offering to your kids if you don’t want to cry during the read aloud, Beth. My voice cracks nearly every time I get to the “fallen tower” page. It’s so hard for me to get through it.

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  3. This post gave me chills. I love the connections you wove from Charlotte to your own friend and mentor, Kathleen. I was debating reading this book to my class- definitely putting it out there as a contender! I am going to let the students vote on our next read aloud but I’m pulling for Charlotte! 🙂

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