Thursday, August 19, 2010

Charlotte or Wilbur?

Since I was already talking spiders this week, it seems appropriate to add that older child and I are now in the midst of reading Charlotte's Web. This is one of the first books I can really, truly remember reading as a child, and one of the first that made me fall in love with reading, and then, writing. And I can tell older son is loving it too, by the way his eyes light up each night as we go to read it.

But being that I am now looking at everything in terms of optimist vs. pessimist, I've also noticed this: Charlotte is an unwavering optimist. She is kind, reassuring, and above all, convinced that things will work out well. Not only this, but also, she takes action to make sure that things do turn out well. Something else I learned from Seligman's book was the fact that learned helplessness is a common trait of the pessimist. Charlotte, though a tiny spider, is certainly not helpless. Wilbur, the pig, on the other hand is about as big a pessimist as they come. I'm actually starting to find his whining about being bored and helpless a bit annoying. And this is not something I remember from reading it as a child -- I remember only a cute little pig!

So I guess my point is this. If I had to choose, I'd much rather go through life as the person who is not helpless to help herself and her friends, the person who takes action and makes good things happen. I'd much rather be a Charlotte than a Wilbur.

How about you? And have you re-read any childhood favorites as an adult and seen them differently?


  1. I have yet to re-read any favorites from when I was a kid. But my daughter is close to the age where I think she'd enjoy sitting and listening to longer stories.
    I'm trying to get a copy of Island of the Blue Dolphins which was a favorite of mine. I don't know though, I think that might be a bit old for her yet. Maybe I should look for Charlotte's Web as well.

  2. Oh, I loved that book, too! But I have no idea how old I was when I read it. It'll be interesting to see if you like it as much when you re-read it.

  3. I remember reading it in eighth grade...