8 Best Books Like Charlotte’s Web Update 05/2022

Books Like Charlotte's Web

E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web is regarded as a classic because of its relatable characters and tragic conclusion. There are many lessons to be learned from the novel, which was first published in 1952. Like other books with animal characters, it raises ethical questions about animal abuse. You’ll find a selection of 17 books that combine compelling stories and characters with important themes that resonate with readers well into adulthood in this list. Reading these books is a pleasure for all ages, even if they’re not all about animals.

1. Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Peterson

Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Peterson

Since its publication in 1977, Bridge to Terabithia has delighted (and devastated) readers everywhere. This is the story of a lonesome Jess Aarons, whose new neighbor, Leslie Burke, offers him a chance at friendship. Together, they create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods, and deal with issues like bullying, first crushes, and obnoxious siblings in the real world. This is one of those books that reads as if it were penned by the protagonist herself, down to the smallest detail. Writing by Peterson is distinctive and full of startling and vibrant word-images. Beware of spoilers if you haven’t read the book or seen the movie yet; the conclusion is well-known for its melancholy tone. Bridge to Terabithia is a near-perfect depiction of childhood innocence.

2. The Rescuers, by Margery Sharp

There’s a good chance you’ve seen the Disney film adaptation of Bernard and Bianca, which is a far cry from the book. Nils, a mouse explorer/translator who joins Sharp’s heroic pair of mice, helps them break out of the Black Castle and rescue a human poet. When it comes to comedy and adventure, The Rescuers is a perfect match. Bianca’s tiny motorboat is just one example of this. There are some sexist remarks and dark elements in Castle Black, but it is a grim place with an especially evil cat in it. But Bianca has a rewarding career, and the book’s messages about teamwork and making a difference—despite feeling small and powerless—are heartwarming. Great work on illustrations by Garth Williams, who also did Charlotte’s Web, rounds out the story perfectly.

3. Goodnight, Mister Tom, by Michelle Magorian

Since its publication in 1981, this tale of an abused wartime evacuee finding a loving home with a gruff widower has become a classic. When William Beech is evacuated to a rural area before World War II and left in the care of Tom Oakley, a cantankerous but kind old man, the story of Goodnight, Mister Tom unfolds. Although it’s written for children, it doesn’t shy away from tackling difficult topics like child abuse, war, and bereavement in its depiction of World War II. There is also discussion of antisemitism, mental illness, and sexism. As a result, you get a book that’s both uplifting and heartbreaking at the same time. When all is said and done, it’s a heartwarming tale of self-discovery and the joys of family. It’s not suitable for very young readers because of the serious subject matter, but it’s an interesting historical novel for anyone over the age of 10.

4. A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Little Princess has always held a special place in my heart, despite the fact that The Secret Garden is more well-known (and equally delightful). Sara Crewe, a young heiress who lives in a boarding school in London, is the subject of this novel. As a result of being called “princess,” Sara strives to live up to the title by being down-to-earth and kind. Sara’s dignity and sense of self-worth as a “princess” are unaffected by her changing circumstances or the abuse she endures. Boys should not be discouraged from reading because the message is to Be Who You Want To Be, no matter what anyone says. Of course, little girls love the concept of “every girl’s a princess.” The book A Little Princess was first published in 1905, so there will be some values that are out of sync, particularly in relation to colonialism.

5. The Story of Tracy Beaker, by Jacqueline Wilson

Tracy Beaker, a 10-year-old girl living in a children’s home, is on the other end of the privilege scale. An irrepressible but vulnerable heroine named Tracy tells her own story, and she longs to be found and rescued by her mother. Because of her feelings of isolation and helplessness, Tracy has been labeled a “problem child.” Tracy’s situation in the “Dumping Ground” is exacerbated by issues of child neglect and domestic violence. Despite this, Tracy Beaker’s Adventures is a joyous and upbeat tale. Tracey is more than just a victim of bad luck; she’s also witty, inventive, and playful. Many children’s stories will be able to relate to and learn from what she has to say because of the universality of her subject matter. The illustrations by Nick Sharratt are a major part of the book’s appeal. As a fan of the Tracy Beaker series, Wilson has written more than 100 books dealing with a wide range of issues affecting young people.

6. The Witches, by Roald Dahl

For those looking for something out of the ordinary, this is one of Roald Dahl’s scariest and strangest stories. It’s also an excellent example of subdued horror; the image of the little girl in the portrait still gives me the creeps. Unnamed boy and his wise grandmother face a secret society of child-hating witches in The Witches, an adventure tale. When it comes to Dahl’s witty prose, the novel’s dark fantasy elements are balanced by his matter-of-fact narration. As the witches’ plans revolve around transforming children into mice, these include grotesque witches and body horror. The protagonist’s relationship with his grandmother is the story’s emotional center and a moving depiction of family and unwavering love. As a result, it makes the ending bittersweet and a little harrowing. Readers of all ages with a taste for the macabre or adventure will find The Witches a fascinating read.

7. The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo

The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo

The Tale of Despereaux is a delightful mix of lighthearted fantasy and more somber themes. It’s a story about a tiny mouse with enormous ears who is fascinated by tales of knights and thus feels out of place among the other mice. This means, as the narrator is well aware, that he will have a “interesting fate.” After falling in love with the human Princess Pea, Despereaux learns of a nefarious plot against the Princess and falls in love with her again. Bon mots and direct addresses to the reader abound in DiCamillo’s prose. This narrative quirk has been out of favor for a while, so it’s refreshing to see it used in a way that engages the audience. Despereaux’s litter is included in the body count, and the rat villain may be frightening to some children. Positive messages about forgiveness and remaining true to oneself are interspersed with heartwarming illustrations, so the book’s overall tone is upbeat but not depressing.

8. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, by Susan Wojciechowski

I read this book as an adult, and it brought tears to my eyes right in the middle of a bookstore. Toomey is a grumpy and reclusive woodcarver who is haunted by the loss of his wife and child in this restrained but intensely emotional story. “The miracle” is simply the connection he makes with a widow and her son, who are newcomers to the village and who commission a set of Nativity figures, that he begins to build with them. In many ways, The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey is a tale of loss and grief, but it is also one of hope and a fresh start. As the story progresses, Wojciechowski expertly manipulates the audience’s emotions to a heartbreaking yet liberating climax. In addition to the heartwarming story, P. J. Lynch’s stunning illustrations bring an extra layer of richness to the tale. The prose is simple enough for students in grades 1-2 to understand when read aloud.

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