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The First Book That I Ever (Remember Having) Read

Thursday, March 2, 2017
I don't have memories of the first book I ever read. Or the second or the third. By the time I was a pre-school kid, I was already reading chapter books. (Anyone else in the same boat?)

Charlotte's Web is the first book that I remember standing in line to purchase with my mom. It is the first book I have memories of reading. It made me smile; it made me laugh; it made me cry inside (because of Fern and because of Charlotte).

It made me realize that the world isn't perfect—but that, through the efforts of individuals like Fern and Charlotte (and all the other farm animals who supported Wilbur in their own ways), life can be made not just more tolerable but livable.

Today, I decided to take a break from the normal review schedule and share a (more) adult perspective on one of my favorite childhood reads. I'd love to hear about your favorite (and / or first) childhood read in the comments below!


WHAT I LIKED


I believe I can fly~
Charlotte's Web taught me never to give up. Wilbur is destined for slaughter (being a farm pig), and there doesn't seem to be any hope for him (given that his life is in human hands). Nevertheless, his friends never give up on him, and their actions change the direction of his life.

Perhaps we can't fly on our own. Perhaps we need help lifting our heads out of the mud in our own pig sty to see the blue horizon of a bright future. That's okay. Wilbur broke that ground before us.

Talking animals! Talking animals!
Animals were my life as a kid. I really wanted to be Mandy from the Animal Ark series, and I still have a fancy for books that feature animal life. I adore how Charlotte's Web introduces important themes like friendship, working hard, and the value of life through the story of farm animals. Younger children will be drawn to the animal characters, and as they grow up, they'll come to appreciate the lessons learned from the human characters.

Everyone needs a Charlotte in his or her life
If it wasn't for Charlotte . . . so many things wouldn't have happened. In fact, Wilbur would be bacon (or ham or pork chops). Charlotte doesn't always know what to do (and needs help from time to time), but she always does what she believes is right and trusts the answer to come with time.

Charlotte is a true friend. I hope that you have a Charlotte in your life and that someone sees you as a Charlotte too :)

Children can make a difference too
As a child, I admired how Fern takes a stand for Wilbur when he's still a baby piglet. She inspired me to want to make a difference in an animal's life as well, and I learned to be more appreciative of the animals at home. As Fern taught me, it's never too early to start changing lives.

Nasty rats can save the day too
I've always had a soft spot for characters that the reader loves to hate on. Templeton is the resident rat and quite a bit of a selfish character. What I love about him is that he adds character to a community of otherwise pretty bland characters. (The farm animals are nice, but they're also really naive.) I was really happy to see him take a turn in the spotlight (err, moonlight).


WHAT I DISLIKED


Wilbur is needy. Very needy.
Wilbur is entirely dependent on others (*cough*Charlotte*cough*) to save him. The only time he really makes a decision is at the end, but it's arguable that he makes this decision out of a selfish need. A part of me wishes that Wilbur had taken more of an active role in his story.

(The other part of me argues that this makes for a good friendship story and that's what it's really all about. What are your thoughts?)

Fern abandons Wilbur (Debatable? Perhaps. I still say so)
My little three-year-old brain couldn't comprehend why any sane human would leave such a cute pig alone. Especially for boys and ferris wheels. (A part of me still can't. I don't seem to have grown in human terms. Can't the boys come play with the pig too?)

I've grown up with animals. While they can amuse themselves for a while, animals also need love and attention. It breaks my heart how sad Wilbur is to be left alone. He eventually makes new friends, but I don't think anyone can replace Fern's place in his heart. She's like a mother to him.

Charlotte! I can't! Charlotte! Charlotte!
While I was reflecting on my childhood emotions upon reading about Charlotte's end, Chuck Noland's cries upon losing Wilson came to mind (Castaway, anyone?). Why did this have to happen to her? This (along with the events leading up to her and Wilbur's first meeting) was my first lesson in the unfairness of life.

I still can't think about that scene without all sorts of feels.


FINAL THOUGHTS


Charlotte's Web is a classic for a reason. While I may have fangirled over the animals, I strongly believe in the lessons this novel teaches children: lessons like growing pains, fighting to live (really live), and making true friends who will fight for you. This book handles tough subjects (for children) delicately and empathetically. It's definitely a book that I want to keep in the family. I look forward to reading this with the next generation one day!

★★★★☆


Some Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte's Web, high up in Zuckerman's barn. Charlotte's spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur's life when he was born the runt of his litter.

E. B. White's Newbery Honor Book is a tender novel of friendship, love, life, and death that will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come.




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CHAT WITH ME


What is your favorite childhood read? And / or what is the first book you remember reading? Tell me your story!



Publication Info
  • Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
  • Published by Harper Collins
  • On October 1, 2001
  • Original Pub: 1952
  • Genres: Children'sClassics
  • Pages: 184 Pages
  • Format: Paperback
Series
  • N/A
Content
  • Fern's father is seen taking an axe out to kill the runt.
  • Wilbur finds out he's being fattened for the slaughter.

2 comments on "The First Book That I Ever (Remember Having) Read"
  1. Yes, Wilbur is very needy. It would have been nice if he had grown a bit more throughout the story. I think that Fern abandoning Wilbur is believable. Friends growing apart is a natural part of growing up, and I think the fact that Wilbur is a pig made it especially likely. I experienced that in my own life as a kid, and watched it happen with my own children's friendships.

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    Replies
    1. I agree. Looking back on the book, it's believable that Fern grows up and finds other interests. We change as we grow; I have a very different friend group compared to the ones I had growing up. It's still not one of my favorite parts of the book given that Fern saves his life and is a mother figure to him.

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