Even before finding out it was the most-loved childrens book of all time, Charlotte’s Web was my favorite as well. Though the beginning of the book may contain some dated information and dialogue, it still has so many beautiful elements.
Friendship and camaraderie remains a huge theme throughout the story, as Fern befriends the runt pig and names him Wilbur, and Wilbur moves to the farm and joins a community of animals dedicated to helping each other (with the exception of Templeton the rat). Wilbur not only learns what it is like to be cared for and loved by Fern and the animals, but he learns to love as well.
The concepts of life and death are introduced and addressed perfectly for the age group that is targeted with this novel. Wilbur’s life is saved by Fern and eventually, Charlotte, even though the natural order of life on the farm would mean his death. We experience the birth of geese, lambs and spiders. And, Wilbur endures through the tragedy of losing his best friend, Charlotte. If a child puts themselves in the pig’s place, they know that it is okay to not understand death and to demand knowledge and understanding of the world around them. But they are also given the chance to grow alongside Wilbur as he moves on and embraces what is before him.
Charlotte’s Web will remain a classic for decades to come. I hope that my children and grandchildren will cherish this coming-of-age novel as much as I have.
by E. B. White
Originally published in 1952