E.B. White

E.B. White’s thoughts always go through me like a Fourth of July sparkler.  He has a way with words, and he ‘knows’.  His wisdom is as remarkable as his writing.  He was the observer, the one who paid attention and noticed everything.  He never wanted to be in the limelight.  When I heard his voice recording of Charlotte’s Web, I was shocked.  I said to his grandniece, “I don’t read the book that way at all.”  She smiled and understood, then she told me a story:

“Uncle Andy (that was E.B.’s nickname) adored his wife.  She was a strong woman,” said Lindsay.  “She was older than he was, eleven years older.  He adored her.  His mother was a strong woman, too.  She was much older when Andy was born.”

“Do you know it took him seventeen takes to read the final chapter, The Last Day?  Seventeen.  He couldn’t stop crying.  You see, in Charlotte’s Web, Wilbur was actually Andy, and Charlotte was his wife Katherine.  He was devoted to her and adored her.  She was his best friend, as Charlotte was to Wilbur.  Reading that chapter aloud brought back all the memories of his wife.”

I will never forget that.  She lifted him up, because she knew he was a good person and a writer.  She adored him, as Charlotte adored Wilbur.

Andy must have been thinking of Katherine when he wrote this:

One of the best books I have read is Melissa Sweet’s story of E.B. White, Some Writer.  Highly recommended!

If you want to know everything about E.B. White, it is the book.  Far from a typical biography, it tells the reader as much about the books he wrote as it does about his life.  It is terrific.  Charlotte the spider would applaud that word.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in Book Review, books, chapter reading, children's books, E.B. White, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, literacy, reading aloud, reading aloud, Teaching young children and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

74 Responses to E.B. White

  1. Thank you for introducing a very interesting writer to me, Jennie! I have to admit i never before had noticed him. But now i was pushed forward going closer to him and his work. Thanks, and have a beautiful weekend! xx Michael

  2. I had a copy of The Elements of Style for years!

  3. He wasn’t on my radar as a child or a. mother, wish he had been.

  4. Robert Salau says:

    Great post. I once came across that quote by E B White years back and I didn’t realize who he was then. Thanks for this article, would be looking forward to reading the book.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, and this book is a fun read. It’s filled with memorabilia and photos, and stories that make E.B. come alive- from his childhood through his life.

  5. I’ve often read that book to my grandchildren. Thanks Jennie for the extra info.

  6. Good post, Jennie. Maybe it is also time to re-read Charlotte’s Web.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Frank. I think you would be surprised at how much more is in the book that you never remembered. When he describes the barn, it is much like your blog posts. I thought of you when I read that part to the children this year.

  7. She surely would approve. Thank you for the book recommendation!

  8. Truly a magnificent writer! Charlotte’s Web is one of the best, most engaging books I’ve read as a child!

  9. Ally Bean says:

    I didn’t know any of this about E. B. White. Fascinating. I like his declaration that a writer should be good, true, lively, and accurate as they inform and shape. Amen to that idea.

    • Jennie says:

      I feel the same way. His quote struck me. Amen, indeed. The book, Some Writer, gave me more insight into ‘Andy’. There are artifacts, letters, photos, and wonderful stories. It’s a winner.

  10. Dan Antion says:

    Thanks for a bit of the backstory I never knew.

  11. beetleypete says:

    Until I followed your blog, I hadn’t heard of him. I can see the huge effect he has had on you as a teacher, and that’s wonderful.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      My goodness, I had no idea E.B. White was not a well-known name outside of the States. Imagine if you wrote about Dickens and it was the first time I had heard of him. Thanks for telling me, Pete. Best to you.

      • beetleypete says:

        Despite being married 3 times, I never had children. So I had almost no contact with children’s books as an adult until very recently, with step-grandchildren. I certainly don’t remember his books from my own schooldays, Jennie.

      • Jennie says:

        That makes perfect sense, Pete, with no reason to read children’s books. Best to you.

  12. I love this post! I didn’t know how sweet E.B. White was. No wonder he wrote a book that is cherished through the generations.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Mary. He was, indeed. You are right- it’s no surprise that he wrote such a cherished book. I feel lucky that I get to read it aloud every year at school.

  13. quiall says:

    I was introduced to Charlotte’s Web as an adult and I have never forgotten the lessons.

  14. Melissa’s book sounds like a great read, Jennie. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Jennie says:

      Bruce, it really is. She includes photos, writings, artifacts, and she captures E.B. White. It’s touted as a children’s book, but I think it’s for adults. Glad you enjoyed this!

  15. Super post, Jennie. E.B. White was unique, for sure.

  16. Elizabeth says:

    You are using a new template? I find it easy to read. Of course I love everything about White.

  17. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, thank you for a wonderful post!

  18. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Please enjoy this wonderful post from the excellent teacher, Jennie!

  19. Glenys Nellist says:

    What a beautiful back story. I’m so glad to know that EB White was Wilbur! Thank you so much for sharing this.

  20. I found this book being read aloud on YouTube in five ( I didn’t see more) parts. It is done by Portland Public Library. I’ve added them to my audio book list! Thank you for this post on it! 😊

  21. petespringerauthor says:

    There are several books that I cried when reading them. This was one that usually got me as well as “Where the Red Fern Grows.” I used to try not to cry in front of my students, but I realized that was silly. Crying is much healthier than keeping feelings bottled up inside.

    • Jennie says:

      “Where the Red Fern Grows” and “Old Yeller” always made me cry. I often wish I taught older children, so I could read these wonderful books aloud- and cry with them. That’s the reason I started my library group.

  22. beth says:

    beautiful and wonderful

  23. What beautiful insight into the book, Jennie. I think “Andy’s” emotional connection to the book came through loud and clear to me, even at age 9. I cried and cried, and I think it’s why I grew up to become a grief counselor. I was deeply affected by that book. I’m all choked up now, just thinking about it. I love this post! Thanks for sharing.

  24. srbottch says:

    Such a wonderful insight into the background of Charlotte’s Web. I particularly enjoyed the author’s description of what a writer should be. Also, their marriage sounds like quite a love affair. Thanks, Jennie.

  25. “Some Writer” is one of my all time favorite books as is “Charlotte’s Web.” I loved reading this bit of insight into the story. Thank you, I always enjoy reading your posts.

    • Jennie says:

      I’m so glad! I learned more about ‘Andy’ through this book than any other. The artifacts she includes make the book one of the best. Reading “Charlotte’s Web” to my class every year is my favorite part of teaching. Thank you for your kind words, Dayne.

  26. ahsanawan88 says:

    Good job 👍

  27. LA says:

    My three favorite books when I was little were Trumpet of the Swan, Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web. Thank you for this!

  28. Hi Jennie, Charlotte’s Web and James and the Giant Peach (especially Miss Spider) are among my favourite children’s books. I have always liked spiders and had a name for the one that lived in our lamp when I was a little girl. Her name was Miranda. I still think of spiders as Miranda.

    • Jennie says:

      Hi Robbie, Miranda the spider is a wonderful story. Of course she would be liked and named, after reading “Charlotte’s Web.” Robbie, I hope you check out “Some Writer” at the library. It is perhaps the best book about E.B. White, and it has many photos and artifacts and stories. What Melissa Sweet does in her book reminds me of what you do with fondants, yet hers is with fabric and so much more.

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