Book Talk and Resources For Reading Aloud Charlotte's Web (Read Aloud Wednesdays Link Up)

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This month's Read Aloud Wednesdays featured post is Charlotte's Web. I have some ideas for discussing this book when you choose it for your family read aloud. There are also some resources you can use as you read the book, including a free character analysis worksheet for younger kids. Don't forget to link up your reading related posts as well.

I think that Charlotte's Web makes for a great first chapter book to read aloud. The chapters are short enough to break up your time into manageable bits for younger, wiggly children. And the themes are some great ones to use for discussing with children who are getting a little older and can think through some big ideas. Really little family members can appreciate the story as well because...well, who can resist a lovable pig and a talking spider with a big heart.

Ideas and resources for using Charlotte's Web as a read aloud book

Charlotte's Web synopsis

Most folks are at least familiar with the classic Charlotte's Web, written by E.B. White in 1952. There are countless editions of the book as well as several movie versions. If you haven't yet read this sweet and touching classic, you're in for a treat.

Wilbur was born as a runt pig in a spring litter. Farmer Arable is going to kill the runt to spare him from starving to death from being excluded from feeding when his young daughter, Fern realizes what's happening and saves the pig. Fern bottle feeds Wilbur until he's old enough to live in a farm on his own. Fern isn't too happy about parting with her pig, but he goes to live on her uncle Zuckerman's farm. There Fern can visit him often.

Unfortunately Wilbur learns what happens to spring pigs in the winter, after they are fat and round. He slumps into depression. But a strange friendship with a spider- Charlotte- springs up. And Charlotte, with some help of the other barnyard animals, sets out to save Wilbur's life. Along the way readers experience the power of friendship and love.

The story is one in which animals talk, although only Fern seems to hear them. Early chapter book readers could probably tackle reading Charlotte's Web on their own. But the story is rich in great themes for family discussion, so I love using this a chapter read aloud.

Themes for discussion

Friendship- Fern and Wilbur are friends. Charlotte and Wilbur are friends. Some of the other barnyard animals end up being friends to Wilbur. Fern has a boy friend- Henry. Talk about what makes a good friend. Do the friends in the story exhibit those traits? Do you think they are good friends? How can you show yourself to be a good friend?

Imagination and Reality- Fern's parents are a little disturbed by the amount of time she spends hanging around the barn and by the fact that she seems to know what the animals talk about. Talk about imagination versus reality. What in this story is real and what is imaginary? Is it good to have a big imagination? Why do you think Fern's parents are worried about her?

Defending the helpless- At the beginning of the story, Fern takes up for Wilbur who can't defend himself. Later Charlotte defends Wilbur in her work of saving him from slaughter. Why is it important that we defend the helpless? Who can you defend or should you defend? How can you speak up for people who can't speak up for themselves? (And a really interesting one if you have older kids- is it right to buck authority to speak up for the helpless - as Fern did when she stopped her father from killing Wilbur?)

Teamwork- As Charlotte works to save Wilbur, the other barnyard animals become involved, even the often recalcitrant rat, Templeton. Why do you think Charlotte enlisted their help? Can we accomplish more when we work as a team? Why is it sometimes hard to work as team? What if someone in your group isn't very helpful- like Templeton? How could you motivate them to be a part of the team?

Death and Sorrow- Death and sorrow are hard topics to discuss. But talking about them within the safety of a story can prepare kids to talk about them and think about them when they come in real life. In this story (spoiler alert!) Charlotte dies. That doesn't seem like a very happy ending. But through her death, Wilbur experiences sorrow and comes out on the other side to find joy. This is a great way to bring up those emotions with kids. How did Wilbur feel when Charlotte died- angry, sad, frustrated, overwhelmed? Why did he feel that way? What helped Wilbur to deal with his grief? Does it help when we can share our grief with others (as Wilbur has some support from the other animals)?

Resources for Charlotte's Web

As you read aloud and discuss the story, you may want to extend it in some way to be a part of your schooling. I definitely don't think we need to make every read aloud academic in some way. And- although I love unit studies- I don't think we need to make every good book into a lengthy school study. But...Charlotte's Web does make for a great jumping off point to many academic areas. So, if you're planning to use it that way, here are some resources for you.

A Character Analysis chart for younger readers- This is a free printable when you become a friend of As We Walk Along the Road. You'll receive a link that gives you this and other great free ebooks printables. (I'm adding to the site all the time.) You can get it here.

Character analysis chart for younger students

Free teacher's guide from Scholastic

Free novel study from Teachers Pay Teachers (You do have to make an account, but you don't enter any payment information.)

Cute free printable to create a "Diary of a Pig" as you read the book

Another freebie from Teachers pay Teachers is this mini movie guide to help students contrast the movie- any version- with the book.

Lapbook from Confessions of a Homeschooler (This one isn't free($2.99), but I've used resources from here and really liked them.)

And now you can pick up your copy of Charlotte's Web and start reading aloud!

Now it's your turn. Use the link up below to link up any reading related posts you have- book lists, reading ideas, resources for a book study. I love to have a look at what you're reading! I also share all links on social media.

As We Walk Along the Road

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