It happened like this: And as you know, those are the beginning words to a really good story. So, hold on to your hat.
Last spring I learned that E.B. White’s grandniece was giving a presentation at my local library. I had no idea there was a family member living nearby. This was thrilling news, good news. Unfortunately, I was travelling at the time of her presentation. That was sad news, bad news. Talk about highs and lows.
When I visited the library after my travels, the head children’s librarian was beside herself to tell me about the event. She was even more excited to tell me that E.B. White’s grandniece wanted to meet me. Me! In the words of Charlotte, I was HUMBLE.
And so we met. She (Lindsay) is wonderful. She showed me memorabilia that took my breath away. My favorite photos were Andy (E.B. White’s nickname) typing at his boathouse where he wrote, and swinging on the real rope swing in the barn at the farm in Maine.
Our conversation went something like this:
Lindsay: “When do you read aloud Charlotte’s Web?”
Me: “Just before rest time.”
Lindsay: “Do you read every day?”
Lindsay: “And when do you start reading the book? Later in the school year?”
Me: “I start on day one.”
Lindsay: “Day one? Really?”
Me: “Oh Yes!”
Lindsay: “I’d love to hear you read the book.”
And so she did! This week. She arrived with a big poster full of photos (me included) and memorabilia. The children were fascinated as she told stories about her Uncle Andy (E.B.). Did you know that he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President John F. Kennedy? And wouldn’t you know that the chapter we read that day was Wilbur receiving a medal at the fair. Very timely, and surely meant to be.
And then it was time for chapter reading. We turned off the lights, and for nearly thirty minutes we were engrossed in listening to the words of Charlotte’s Web. We answered questions and talked about who we liked in the book, and also who we didn’t like – Templeton. We remembered that Charlotte’s egg sac contained 514 eggs. Lindsay so enjoyed the reading and the conversation. It was wonderful!
Of course the children made her a gigantic thank you note. I received a lovely note that said:
Terrific, terrific, terrific fun today!!
I enjoyed every minute!
The children are precious!!
You are SOME READER!!!!!
So nice! And the references to Charlotte’s Web are perfect. I feel HUMBLE and RADIENT. In the words of the goose, thank you, thank you, thank you Lindsay.
Wunderful! Wuunderful! I’m so happy, happy, happy to see Charlotte’s Web get so much attention and the joy it brings to you, Jennie, and your ‘gang’. 😁
Yes, yes, yes! It is certainly a joy.
What a wonderful visit to your classroom. Another great connection for you. xo
I am so jealous!!
Who knew she lived nearby!! I am so lucky.
Absolutely wonderful Jennie! I am so pleased you were able to experience this with her!!!!
It was wonderful, indeed. Thank you, Ritu! 😍
Wow! What luck you have, Jennie. I loved that book (reading it to the class). What a thrill to have Lindsay there in your class. I wanted to add a little anecdote about a discussion my class and I had about the book after we finished it. I asked them if they thought Fern could really hear the animals talk or was it just in her mind (because no one else could hear the conversations in the barnyard). I thought they would say, “Yeah, she just imagined what they might be saying. She had a good imagination.” But no. Without hesitation, they said, “Of course she could hear them,” and, “They were really talking to her.”
Isn’t that just wonderful what the children believed! And don’t we believe a little of that, too? Thank you, Anne.
What a fun time, Jennie. Thanks for sharing.
Fun times for sure. Thanks, John.
You deserve every wonderful and memorable experience that comes your way. You are one amazing lady and definitely my personal heroine. I would love to be even a bit like you! You have made so many children happy over so many years. I cannot think of anything that any of us could do that would be better!!!
Awww… that is so nice, Anne. Thank you kindly. 😊
It is very well deserved, Jennie. I honestly wish that every teacher was like you! Thank you once again.
You are most welcome. I dearly cherish your kind and meaningful words.
Oh, Jennie, Your story warmed my heart! What a thrill, as well as an honor! I’m so very happy for you and the children! – Susan
Thank you, Susan. It was certainly a thrill and definitely an honor!
Jennie, this is wonderful, and you are a deserving and excellent teacher!
Thank you so much, Charles.
Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
Here is another beautiful post from the excellent teacher, Jennie!
What a wonderful opportunity, Jennie. I’m so glad you were able to meet Lindsay and to have her visit your classroom. That had to be a special treat.
It was terrific, Dan. I was quite a lucky teacher. Thank you!
Holy craziness…will your ever expanding world of unexpected connections never cease???
I certainly hope not!!!
Fan – tas – tic!
ps- kudos to that grandniece for keeping their family legend alive and still active/involved as part of the fabric of the American narrative.
Well, if you didn’t cover a host of important topics here, Laura! Yes, holy craziness at these unexpected meetings. Who knew? And they are definitely fantastic. As to the grandniece, she travels all over to keep the memory of E.B. White alive. If that isn’t the fabric of the American narrative!!
She told me so much about her Uncle Andy. He married an older woman, the love of his life. When he wrote Charlotte’s Web, he was writing about himself, as he was truly Wilbur, and about his wife, as she was Charlotte. Isn’t that wonderful? I never knew that before.
Romance in the literary barnyard…sweet.
That would’ve so amazing!!!
Thank you, AJ!
Have just reread your other E.B.White posts as well, Jennie. How marvellous that this post came together, just like another of your students’ wonder-filled patchwork quilts! Thanks again
I’m so glad, Meg. And thank you so much. Your kind words and thoughts are greatly appreciated.
How wonderful, Jennie. What a great experience for you and the children. It is wonderful to see the love you have of Charlotte’s Web, and share so generously, being recognised by those for whom it means so much. I think maybe you should also be awarded a medal. Your promotion of children’s literature and the importance of reading aloud is second to none. Your influence goes way beyond your own classroom family.
The other day on Facebook (I can’t recall in which group), someone asked what year level Charlotte’s Web was suitable for. Some answered year four or above. I suggested any year (I’ve read it to a few age groups) and told them that you read it to your Kindergarten children. I suggested they check you out on Facebook. I hope they did. 🙂
You certainly made my day, Norah. Thank you! I often think about the world outside my classroom, and how reading aloud has made a difference. I think the reason I began blogging was my passion to ‘spread the word’. I do hear from others, in person and in writing. And, that just fires me up to keep going, keep doing what I do. Many thanks for your constant support!
I hope many others follow in your footsteps, Jennie. The world needs to be filled with teachers like you. 🙂
Always a joy to see you make these connections, and to read how much they delight both you, and the children.
Best wishes, Pete.
I’m so glad you enjoyed this. Best to you, Pete.
I am as tickled as a champagne punch for you and agree with every word Anne Copeland said! I am so delighted for you and the children. It takes me a while here as I read so many of the comments as well. I just love coming here.
You do read the comments, Marlene. That’s such a nice thing to do. I should be as good as you are at doing that when I read. Thank you so much! I’m so glad you like coming here!! 😀
Wow! That’s wonderful!
My pleasure, Jennie!
Lovely Jennie. Many years ago I read Charlotte’s web by torchlight late one evening when I should have been asleep. I still remember being so upset by the ending that I went downstairs and cried to my parents. Not sure if they realised who Charlotte was but I will never forget that night. It is a lovely story.
Thank you so much. I just love your story. The fact that you still remember remember reading by torchlight, and the ending, and how you went downstairs to cry is a great tribute to E.B. White. What a wonderful, timeless story.
Yes I loved Charlotte’s web very much.
Hi! Very interesting to see! 🙂 Thank you for sharing this! Have a nice evening and a great week! Best wishes from holidays in south tyrol ! Bye, Maren ❤
Another wonderful teaching experience, Jennie. Your children are so very lucky to have you…
Thanks so much, Sarah. 🙂
You’re very welcome!
You are SOME TEACHER!
Awww… now that’s the best two words, ever. I think Charlotte would agree. Thank you kindly, Mitch.
You’ve given your life to guide the children over the years. Wow, such accomplishment and knowing how you shaped so many lives. Well done!
Thank you so much!
My pleasure. 🙂
what a wonderful thing to happen ! and it couldn’t happen to a nicer person! You are such an inspiration! I loved this post-just radiant! love Michele
Thank you so much, Michele! 😍
Is it too late to be in your class?
How wonderful that Lindsay could come and experience what your students experience. And what a delightful book to read aloud. I agree with KC Redding-Gonzalez. How wonderful to be in your class!
Awww… thank you Marie. It was wonderful, indeed!
Dear Jennie, Thank-you for this post! I loved his writing….my mother grew up as best friends with his neice Peggy White, the muse for his books. They were even roomates for awhile in Chicago…Peggy’s father was Stanley White, a professor of landscape architecture. I have photographs and letters…hoping to put them together sometime.
The themes in Charlottes Web are so important.
Dear Luna, Thank you so much. And, what a terrific story! That is a very special family connection. I’m so glad you told me. I really do hope you put those photographs and letters together. Do you know Lindsay? Her grandfather was Albert, one of Andy’s (E.B.) brothers.
And I misspelled niece! Oops! I love that you were able to bring the author to life by meeting a member of his family! What a joy for your lucky students! I would love to have been there!!!
It was a joy on so many levels. Thank you, Luna.
Such a wonderful and special experience, Jennie! You and the children were very lucky! And I love those photos she shared with you, there’s always something wonderful to see pictures of writers at their work. 😄
Thank you very much, Sarah! It was wonderful and very special. I’m glad you liked those old photos as much as I did. 😀
What a lovely visitor to have, Jennie. So exciting to see this memorabilia.
It was a treat, for sure. I just love those old photos. Thank you, Robbie.
Another exciting connection for you Jennie. You’re becoming a legend! 🙂 x
Who knew that this connection would just happen? Thanks for enjoying the excitement, Debby. 🙂
Always! 🙂 x
Jennie, a magical day for you all … children and adults alike! Your joy shines through and the love of books and the enchanting hold of Charlotte’s Web is portrayed throughout the post, words, and pictures! Brilliant and so happy for you all.
Thank you for your kind works, Annika! It was a magical day indeed. Good books bring so much to children, and I get to be the keeper and messenger to bring those books to life. 🙂
What a treat, Jennie, for your students, for you, and for Lindsay. When I was in third grade (I think) we had an assignment to write a letter to a favorite author, and of course, my letter was to EB White. I received a form letter reply, but treasured it all the same. These encounters with authors and the people who knew them are so memorable. You have a lucky bunch of kids there. 🙂
Thank you, Diana. Yes, these encounters may be unexpected and random, yet they leave a mark / memory with children. Isn’t that wonderful! I love your story. Do you still have that letter that you treasured? When your grandson is old enough to hear you read the story aloud, he will flip over that letter. 😀
My county’s school system has started reading, “Maybe Something Beautiful” by: F. Isabel Campoy & Teresa Howell. I immediately thought of you and wondered if it might be something you’d read to your children.
Oooo, the book sounds wonderful. I go to the library on Thursday, and I’ll check it out. Thanks, GP!
Anything for the kids, Jennie.
I feel the same way. 🙂
What a great experience for your young class. I hope they remember it later in life when it’s time to read “Charlotte’s Web” to their kids.
Thank you, Dayne. If the past holds true, these children will remember. 🙂
How marvelous! 👏🏻
It was, indeed! Thank you, Cheryl. 🙂
Reblogged this on Usborne Books and More With Niki.