Listen&Learn: Charlotte’s Web

Jaksyn Peacock
A children’s book about friendship, life, and death.

Pre-listening vocabulary

  • raise: to take care of someone as they grow up
  • slaughter: to kill an animal for food
  • weave: to make something using string or thread
  • delay: to cause something to happen later than it’s supposed to
  • critic: a person whose job is to analyze books or movies
  • theme: a topic in a story that represents an important message or meaning

Listening activity

Gapfill exercise

Charlotte’s Web is a classic children’s novel written by American author E. B. White. The story begins when a girl named Fern decides to raise a pig named Wilbur. When Wilbur grows up, Fern’s family sends him away to live on a farm. Once he arrives, Wilbur learns that he will be slaughtered one day. He befriends a named Charlotte who agrees to help him stay alive. She begins to weave into her spider webs to convince the farmers that Wilbur is special. But even though Charlotte succeeds at delaying Wilbur’s death, she can’t her own. Critics have praised the story for explaining the theme of death in a way that children can understand. However, some people dislike the idea of death being a central theme in a children’s novel. The book has even been before for this reason.

Comprehension questions

1. Charlotte helps Wilbur survive by

Correct! Wrong!

Charlotte helps Wilbur survive by convincing the farmers that he is special.

2. The character who dies in this story is

Correct! Wrong!

The character who dies in this story is Charlotte.

3. Critics liked the book because

Correct! Wrong!

Critics liked the book because it did a good job of explaining the theme of death.

Discussion/essay questions

  1. Do you know any other books that have been banned in schools or libraries? What were the reasons?

Transcript

Charlotte’s Web is a classic children’s novel written by American author E. B. White. The story begins when a girl named Fern decides to raise a young pig named Wilbur. When Wilbur grows up, Fern’s family sends him away to live on a farm. Once he arrives, Wilbur learns that he will be slaughtered one day. He befriends a spider named Charlotte who agrees to help him stay alive. She begins to weave messages into her spider webs to convince the farmers that Wilbur is special. But even though Charlotte succeeds at delaying Wilbur’s death, she can’t avoid her own. Critics have praised the story for explaining the theme of death in a way that children can understand. However, some people dislike the idea of death being a central theme in a children’s novel. The book has even been banned before for this reason. 

Written and recorded by Jaksyn Peacock for EnglishClub

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