Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Books of our youth: Friendly spiders

This latest in my series on the "books of our youth" is guest-written by Angelina C. Hansen.

How many times in my life have I had to explain my love for eight-legged creatures?

“They serve an important function.” I say, taking a cup and paper and saving yet another large house spider from imminent death. “If it weren’t for spiders, bugs would take over the world!”

Most people think my passion for spiders is a little strange. And when I stop and think about it, I have to agree. I don’t imagine many young girls spent most summer days in their backyards watching shiny black spiders with red hourglass bellies, feeding them grasshoppers, and giving them names like Charlemagne and Champagne.

A few years back I reread my favorite childhood book, E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, and the truth was revealed. One particular passage showed how much this beautiful story of friendship had touched my seven-year-old heart.

Fly-eating Charlotte to a horrified Wilbur:
“…do you realize that if I didn’t catch bugs and eat them, bugs would increase and multiply and get so numerous that they’d destroy the earth, wipe out everything?”

Exactly! And thus the reason I never kill spiders.

Charlotte was the first character I fell in love with. I loved the story so much, I suffered the relentless badgering of older brothers who were embarrassed to walk to school with a sister who had her nose stuck in a book. But I couldn’t put it down.

Somehow I lost my library copy before I finished and thought I’d never get my hands on another. Oh, the tears. And the relief when I realized there was more than one copy in the world. And oh, the tears when Charlotte died!

Now when someone asks me why I don’t kill spiders, I reply with a simple answer. “Charlotte.”

A powerful lesson lies herein:
Books read by children can impact their behavior for the rest of their lives.

Angelina C. Hansen is a young adult novelist with a serious fiction addiction.


  1. I love this post, especially the oh-so-true lesson to be gleaned from it. Books shape kids' lives! Thanks for sharing, Angelina. :)

  2. Lovely post, Angelina. Yes, books have the power to change those that make the world go.

    1. That's one reason it's so exciting to write for young people.

    2. Thanks, Mieke. Spiders everywhere are thanking E.B. White. ^_^

  3. Oh, if it weren't for books I don't know who or what or where I'd be! I'm the same way about spiders for exactly the same reason. In fact, last winter our family allowed a house spider to live in peace above the kitchen sink throughout those cold and bitter months. Can you guess what we named her?

  4. Oh, Barb, I knew I loved you, but now I love you even more. ^_^