Crystal Hamrick sits at the front of an activities room on the second floor of the St. Cloud Library. Clad in her “Charlotte’s Web” T-shirt and holding a copy of the E.B. White book, she asks the two dozen or so children in the room, “What is ‘Charlotte’s Web’ about?”

“It’s about friendship,” Hamrick, a youth librarian, says. “How many of you guys have friends?”

“I have two friends,” a young boy replies.

“I have three friends,” another girl chimes in.

Then, using her best impersonations of characters like eight-year-old Fern Arable, she takes her time reading the first chapter of the book aloud, sometimes fielding questions and comments from the young attendees.

The E.B. White book is this year’s choice for One Book, One Community, a series of events encouraging kids and parents across multiple counties to join together in reading one book.

The story follows Wilbur the pig and his relationship with Fern, the little girl who adopts him, and other barnyard friends including Charlotte the spider. When Wilbur learns that he will be slaughtered, Charlotte works to help save him.

The goal of this Orlando Sentinel-sponsored project, now in its 18th year, is to encourage children to reach reading level by age nine.

During the St. Cloud event, therapy dog Hope donned pink pig ears to look like Wilbur while listening attentively to Hamrick’s reading. As the first chapter came to a close, antsy children learned of the craft they’d be making involving a spider web design and glitter glue.

The family reading programs at the St. Cloud Library have proven to be a hit.

“I’ve had a lot of positive responses from the families and the kids,” Hamrick said.

Blair Russell, a St. Cloud resident, brought her children Aidan, 9, and Emma, 6, to the reading event. She has fond memories of “Charlotte’s Web” growing up.

“It was one of my favorites,” Russell said. “It just really pulled me in. I love the animals.”

She’s now re-reading the book with her children and said it’s wonderful to be experiencing it again as an adult.

“It brings me back to my childhood,” Russell said.

Events at the St. Cloud Library involving “Charlotte’s Web” will be held every Wednesday through the end of May.

Other libraries in the Osceola, Seminole and Orange library systems will hold events through May 10.

“Charlotte’s Web” represents the only book to have been chosen twice for this community reading event. It first made an appearance in 2002 when the series began.

More events, educational activities and community read-alouds will be announced in the Orlando Sentinel print edition. You can also find more information and a full listing of events at

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