Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Charlotte's Web

I'm reading Charlotte's Web with my new book buddy, Dwight. Dwight is a 3rd grader who lives in Queens. We got connected through an organization called Learning Leaders. Based in New York City, the provide supplementary educational programs to kids in public schools. Their book buddy program matches up adult volunteers with elementary school students. We read a book together, and write three letters back and forth as we work our way through the story.

As a kid, I loved to read. My house was filled with literally thousands of books, much to the detriment of any semblance of tidiness. While I didn't love being in a cluttered home, I loved being surrounded by books in every room. Now I recognize that most kids aren't as lucky as I was to learn to love reading at such a young age. The book buddy program and Dwight are one small way that I hope to turn that around for a kid.

I forgot how much I love
Charlotte's Web. I forgot how scared Wilbur was and how concerned he was with being lonely and making new friends. Children's literature introduces some heavy themes, despite its light-hearted exterior. Reading this book has made me fall in love with the genre all over again, and encouraged me to continue writing for this age group.

I'll post up my letters to Dwight and his letters to me on this blog as we continue through Charlotte's Web. I'm excited to read what he has to say. I'll meet him in person in February when we all get together for a celebration lunch. Apparently, the kids always think the adults they are writing to are total rock stars - a shot in the arm we could all use!

" Dear Dwight,

I’m really happy to be reading Charlotte’s Web with you and writing letters to each other as we work through the book. This was one of my favorite books when I was in school, and I’m looking forward to re-reading it. I really enjoy reading and I write, too. I always find inspiration for my own writing by reading other books.

I grew up in a very small town about two hours north of Manhattan, along the Hudson River. We had a farm where we grew apples and every fall we would invite people to come pick apples from our property. We didn’t have as many farm animals as there are in Charlotte’s Web, though my sister, Maria, and I spent a lot of time in the woods around our house watching for deer, turkeys, and foxes. We also had a very large pond that had frogs, turtles, and fish.

Our family has always had pets so my love of animals goes back as far as I can remember. We had a lot of dogs, a few cats, an aquarium, and a rabbit, too. My work is very busy now so I don’t have time for a pet at the moment. I hope I can have a pet of my own someday soon.

One part of Charlotte’s Web that I forgotten was how much Wilbur wanted to make new friends in his new home. I have experienced that many times, too. I went to elementary school, middle school, and high school with all of my same friends. When I went to college and then to graduate school, I didn’t know anyone so I had to make all new friends. At first that experience was scary, though the more often I had to make new friends, the easier it became. Now meeting new people is one of my favorite things to do.

What’s been your favorite part of the book so far? What kind of plan do you think Charlotte will make to help save her friend, Wilbur?

I’m looking forward to your first letter!

Your Book Buddy,



Sharnanigans said...

what an amazing thing to do. Very inspiring I am half thinking I should do something similar... Charlotte's web is a beautiful book from what I can remember.
Go girl - looking forward to reading letters from Dwight.

Christa said...

Thanks Sharni! I can't wait to receive my first letter from Dwight - very interested in learning about him and encouraging him in his studies!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Christa,

You're fabulous! You gave me an idea to do same thing to my students here in Maryland. thanks for the great idea girl!


Christa said...

Hi Lenore - this is such a fabulous program! I absolutely love it. :) Let me know how this idea goes with your students.