He goes to live in Fern’s uncle’s barn where she can visit him. Between Fern’s visits, Wilbur befriends the other animals in the barn, and learns a lot from the comical group of animals that teach him the ways of life. His most cherished friend is Charlotte the spider, who quickly develops a strong bond with Wilbur. Their friendship, and Charlotte’s devotion to Wilbur, will save his life. This touching story will capture the hearts of school aged children for years to come.
When a litter of piglets is born at the Arable Farm, Fern Arable is shocked to hear that her father plans to “do away with” the runt of the litter. Rushing to the pig’s defense, Fern convinces her father that the pig can’t help being born small, and persuades him to spare the piglet’s life. Fern raises the piglet on a bottle, and names him Wilbur. They quickly become inseparable. Fern’s father knows Wilbur will eventually need to be slaughtered for meat, so as soon as Wilbur is strong enough, he sells him to Fern’s uncle, Mr. Zuckerman.
At the farm, Fern visits Wilbur as often as she can, but he becomes lonely. Wilbur, the social pig that he is, attempts to befriend the other animals in the barnyard. The comical group of animals teach the naïve pig the ways of the world. Soon, he makes his most important friend, Charlotte the spider. She quickly takes a liking to Wilbur, and their friendship begins to grow.
Wilbur is enjoying life in the barn until the old sheep tells Wilbur his fate. Farmer Zuckerman will probably butcher Wilbur for meat by Christmastime. Wilbur is immediately distressed, and feels as though his life is over, until Charlotte comes up with a plan. The clever spider begins spinning messages in her web like “some pig”, “terrific”, and “radiant”. Mr. Zuckerman is astonished and begins to see that he might have a truly special pig. People from all over come to see Zuckerman’s famous pig and things start to look up for Wilbur.
Mr. Zuckerman enters Wilbur into a competition at the state fair. Wilbur convinces Charlotte to come with him, and they have their final moment of fame. Charlotte outdoes herself by writing “humble” in her web, the perfect word for Wilbur. No one can deny that Wilbur is one special pig, and he wins the top prize. Charlotte and Wilbur can finally rest easy, knowing he has proven himself too special to be turned into bacon.
At the fair, Charlotte becomes weaker and weaker. It is time for her to weave her egg sac, and she doesn't think she will make it back to the farm. With the help of Templeton the rat, Wilbur manages to transport the egg sac back to the farm, and save all of Charlotte’s children. Sadly, Charlotte dies at the fairgrounds, but Wilbur is comforted by waiting for her children to hatch the following spring. Soon enough, the eggs hatch, and many of them leave to spin their own webs. The heartwarming story comes to an end when three of Charlotte’s daughters, who are fond of Wilbur, decide to stay and keep him company in the barn.
Choose the questions or conversation topics you wish to explore before establishing guided groups. Think about the book's themes, character development, symbolism, and other pertinent elements. Adapt the questions to the student's understanding and reading abilities. For younger students, teachers can focus on simpler topics.
Make small groups of the students, each with three to six people. As this can result in more interesting and informative talks, try to form groups with a variety of personalities and reading comprehension skills. Students can choose to work with anyone they want as long as all the students have a group.
Give each group a collection of "Charlotte's Web"-related discussion points or questions to consider. Make sure the questions promote critical thinking and analysis and are open-ended. Each group can choose a different topic to work on so the end class discussion can cover all the aspects of the story.
Stress the value of polite involvement and active listening within each group. Ask open-ended follow-up questions to further the discussion and encourage participants to build on one another's ideas. Encourage participation within groups as well.
Teachers can also rotate the topics among groups if time allows. This will help students get more involved in the discussion and get different insights on the same topics.
Encourage the participants to think about the topic and make analogies to their own lives or experiences. Ask the students to reflect on how "Charlotte's Web"'s themes and teachings relate to actual circumstances. In the end, teachers can arrange an entire class discussion and each group can nominate a representative to deliver their insights and points.
Charlotte is the spider in Charlotte’s Web. She writes messages on her web in order to save her friend, Wilbur the pig.
Spoiler Alert: After doing all that she can to save Wilbur’s life, Charlotte gets ill and dies in the story. Wilbur takes care of her egg sacs and befriends all of Charlotte’s children.
The main characters in the story are Wilbur the pig, Charlotte the spider, Templeton the rat, and a little girl named Fern. There are also many other beloved animals in the story.