I remember reading Charlotte's Web as an eight-year-old, I was in a split grade 2/3 class, and the teacher let me read with the grade 3 students.
I was really excited about the book, I didn't know books could be so big. I loved books, I read every book in my kindergarden and Grade 1 classrooms, so my experience was with short books.
I still remember trying to read the book quickly, as if I could do so in minutes, I couldn't.
I was memorized by the book, it characters, and became emotionally attached to Wilbur's worldview. The surprise of Charlotte's death made me cry, I still remember how my throat felt dry in that moment, and holding that all in as I sat at my classroom desk. (The class was chapters behind me)
It was probably the first time I grabbled with the concept of death. Up until this time, the concept of "heaven" and a journey had been taught to me, and the deaths of those I knew had not been disruptive to my life.
Later today, Tuesday, NPR's On Point will air a segment called "When Grown-Ups Reread Children’s Classics" discussing "how children’s literature can still speak to adults".
I look forward to listening.