Three long months, people. That is how long I have been reading this book with my niece and nephew. I dragged them through it, particularly my nephew, because this is the book every child should read as an introduction to classic American literature. It is a beautifully written book, full of meaning, impact, and emotion. I was just not going to let Charlotte's Web slide beneath my niece and nephew's radars. So, we stuck with it.
My niece loved it, which I fully expected. But here's the real payoff. When we started this book three months ago, my nephew was very unhappy with the fact that we were reading a chapter book, and one that lacked color illustrations, to boot. He pulled out all the stops to try to get me to give up on this and pull out the easier, brighter, sillier fare instead. I refused to buckle under. Then something started to happen. He stopped interrupting so much. He started laughing at the funny parts, and feeling during the emotional parts. He started to enjoy those black and white illustrations, and he started asking me what various words meant. When we saw a stuffed pig at some store a few weeks ago, he said, "look, Sister, it's Wilbur!" That's when I became positive that he was processing this book and integrating it into his experience of the world. As soon as we finished this book tonight, my niece said that she liked it. And my nephew said, "yeah, I did too. It was really good." From hating this book to loving it. These eight words made all the time we spent with Charlotte's Web worth it.