My mother read to us all the time when we were kids. She was an elementary school teacher and we were her ultimate classroom. That’s the rosy version. She was also known to say, “As long as I was reading to you girls, you were less likely to be fighting.” What? Us fight?
Whatever the reason, we were exposed to great books in our childhood. Recently Mom finished reading Charlotte’s Web out loud to one of her friends who had never heard it. It doesn’t matter if you are a child or an adult, this is a book everyone should have read out loud to them. I know you’re nodding your head, so I’ll move on, lest we get stuck high-fiving ourselves over how much we love Wilbur and Charlotte and don’t get to the point of this post.
The point is this: In a day and age where we moan over how disconnected we are, we moan because we know the importance friendship. We know how much we need each other. We know it, but we can also use reminders and teachers. Here is what I learned from a pig and a spider:
1. We all need friends.
Wilbur didn’t want food, he wanted love. He wanted a friend—someone who would play with him.
2. Friendship is a gamble.
“Well,” he thought, “I’ve got a new friend, all right. But what a gamble friendship is! Charlotte is fierce, brutal, scheming, bloodthirsty—everything I don’t like. How can I learn to like her, even though she is pretty and, of course, clever?”
3. Believe your friend when they tell you you are terrific. They really mean it.
Wilbur blushed. “But I’m not terrific, Charlotte. I’m just about average for a pig.”
“You’re terrific as far as I’m concerned,” replied Charlotte, sweetly, “and that’s what counts. You’re my best friend, and I think you’re sensational. Now stop arguing and go get some sleep!”
4. By helping our friends, we help ourselves.
“Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’ ‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”
5. Friendships have secret signals.
6. Sometimes we can’t be with our friends.
But as he was being shoved into the crate, he looked up at Charlotte and gave her a wink. She knew he was saying good-bye in the only way he could. And she knew her children were safe.
7. Even when we aren’t with our friends, we still feel their presence.
Every day Wilbur would stand and look at the torn, empty web, and a lump would come to his throat. No one had ever had such a friend—so affectionate, so loyal, and so skillful.
8. To have a true friend is not to be taken for granted.
Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders ever quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.
9. In the end, even with death and tears (anyone else sob in this book?), friendship is worth it. Thank you Charlotte and Wilbur.
Do you love this book?! What other books inspire you when it comes to friendship? (Billy, Old Dan, and Little Ann, anyone? Anyone?)
Linking with Velvet Ashes weekly theme #Friendship.
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