Thursday, May 30, 2013

Why Charlotte's Web is the Perfect Book to Read to a Six Year Old

Charlotte's Web

I've recently read Charlotte's Web out loud to two little boys, ages 4 and 6, and it was amazing. I then tried reading a couple different books to them and it wasn't quite a good. (I think the ideal place to read this book is with a child, actually. I'd read it as an adult before silently and it wasn't nearly as good.) Here is why Charlotte's Web is so good..

1. It is a simple story that isn't overly complicated but still grabs their attention.

2. The book is the perfect length...184 pages. The boys loved looking at page 100, for some reason, and they were always astounded at having read so many pages! Also, the chapters are the perfect length for two boys' attention spans. We read a chapter together during lunch and by the end of the chapter...they would always beg me to read one more!  I knew that I'd lose their attention if we did so I'd make them wait. By the next day they would be begging for lunch time so we could read more about Wilbur and Charlotte!

3. It is about basic things like loneliness and friendship. Being scared and being brave. There were multiple occasions that I'd  talk to the boys about their days at school and they'd be going through similar stuff to what Wilbur was going through! Once I picked up the six year old from school and he said no one wanted to play with him at recess that day. And I was reminded at just how hard all that friendship stuff is when you are little (and sometimes even when you're an adult!). You are constantly trying to figure out what a friend is, who your friend  are, etc. We had this great conversation about Wilbur feeling the same thing in the book--being lonely and scared. But that in a couple chapters, he was going to find a great friend! It was a very sweet moment to see the six year old identifying with Wilbur and feeling hope that maybe tomorrow he'd find someone to play with at recess!

3. The story is about a pig and a spider! The boys have always thought spiders were terrifying--just like Wilbur did when he first met Charlotte! It was so cute to see them change their attitude about Charlotte. They also loved the name Wilbur. One day the 4 year old ran up to me after preschool and he said..."We read a book about Wilbur! But today he was an elephant not a pig!" It was great to see him thinking and connecting with the story, too.

4. It touches upon death but does it in a safe way. The 6 year old is pretty scared of the idea of death. Whenever anyone mentions death, he usually covers his ears. I wasn't sure how he was going to take the threat of Wilbur being killed or even the end of the book. During those parts, I'd notice that he wasn't chewing his food anymore but rather staring intently at me as I read. Sometimes I'd put the book down and we'd talk about what was going on, but usually he'd accept that part of the book and could continue on. E.B. White makes the end hopeful and...warm. The last chapter is called "A Warm Wind" and it is just the perfect title for it. It isn't is a little sad...but still okay!

5. Its a fun one to read out loud....especially the chaotic parts involving the goose! The boys loved it when I did different voices and you could see them imagining everything going on. The book also has this simple, nostalgic feel to it.

I hope you are able to enjoy this experience, too! Don't rush through the book but take the time to talk about what you read and connect it to their lives. Its a good book to do that with!

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