Charlotte's spider web in the barn

The Wonder and Enjoyment of E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web

By Carin Harner
Barney Charter School Initiative Instructional Coach

Carin Harner, BCSI Instructional Coach

Charlotte’s Web is the wonderful story of a young girl, a young pig, and a spider. It is a story about friendship, loyalty, and the sacrifices that come with friendship. It is about growing up. It is about life and death and how the two are intertwined. While being honest and frank, it is also gently written at a child’s level.

The ultimate purpose for reading good literature is the wonder and enjoyment of the story. It can be “taught” through the reader’s presentation, and through questioning that involves basic comprehension as well as an understanding of deeper meanings. Difficult vocabulary should be addressed as it pertains to the students’ understanding of the story. As the teacher reads, there should be a balance of these components so they do not interrupt the flow of the story and the student’s engagement is not lost.

This story offers numerous opportunities for wonder and to explore thoughts as they relate to the acts of a young girl saving a piglet, the unlikely friendship of a spider and a pig, a selfish rat, and the words that appear in Charlotte’s web.

The Barney Charter School Initiative staff recommends that Charlotte’s Web is read aloud by the teacher at the second-grade level.

Click here for a downloadable (PDF format) Charlotte’s Web poster to use in your classroom.