Reading Charlotte’s Web by E.B White with my class will always be a class favorite. It’s my second year to read the book with my students and it still makes me feel so emotional (as if I’m reading it for the very first time). I cry inside…over a pig and a silent-martyr spider. This book is an excellent reminder of what true friendship is all about.
As we went through our Literature Circle discussions, the students learned different reading strategies and had mini-lessons about the elements of a story. We also learned about different Literature Circle roles, which helped the students analyze the chapters in a fun way. Of course, there were some students who were not very interested in reading but the roles helped them become accountable for their reading journey as they know that they had important parts to play during the small group discussions. There was that collective-unifying feeling during our Literature Circle sessions that encouraged everyone to read.
Some thoughts from my students:
‘It’s not only what your friends do for you, it’s how good you are to your friends… Literature Circle help us feel the book (feel emotional). We can have a mental image of what’s happening.’- Noella
‘I learned that friendship is really important in life because Wilbur and Charlotte helped each other in matters of life and death…I have many questions that were not answered but after (I became) the passage picker, I understood the passages better.’ – Archit
‘The most important thing that the book taught me is that friends will come and go…I learnt that since we have been reading Charlotte’s Web, it has given me an idea that reading is fun.’ – Raven
‘True friends are really rare. Friends just come and go. True friends can teach you things of great value and you can help them too. True friends remain and keep a bond.’ -Anjolie
‘I liked the book because it was very interesting and fun. Also because when one problem was solved, another would come and it would become more interesting.’ – Valmik
‘True friendship (can happen) even if we are alike or different, like Charlotte and Wilbur’s friendship is very true. I have learned to identify important words in a paragraph (vocabulary words).’ – Rehan
‘I give this book 5 stars because I think it really deserves it. It has made me interested and engrossed and I had lots of fun reading it. In the end it was a little emotional.’ – Sankhya
‘You can care about people and animals who are not perfect, like Wilbur, he’s a runt. I learned to use expression when reading…I learned how to write a summary.’ – Rohan
After we read the book, the students suggested to watch the film (directed by Gary Winick). The curiosity of whether the movie depicted the story like how they did gave me an insight about how the book impacted their thinking and interest. True enough, as we watched the film, they were predicting the next scenes, noting scenes which are not in the book and shared things they were surprised about (like how they imagined the characters before watching the film). They were delighted to see the characters and the story come to life, not only in their imagination but in the film as well.
We ended the unit by creating individual Charlotte’s Web projects. The students shared their understanding of the book through their chosen products (book calendar, diary, accordion books, etc.) This eventually led us to decorating our library with the purpose of encouraging other students to read the book as well.
I’m very confident to say that the students thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and will never, ever, forget the story, the lessons that came with it and the journey shared with their…friends.