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Being a Charlotte

To understand the quality of humility and its effect on others.

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To understand the quality of humility and its effect on others.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need to be familiar with the film or book Charlotte's Web.


  1. Most children will be familiar with the film Charlotte's Web, if not the book. With the children's help give a brief resume of the story for any who may not know it.

    Fern rescues Wilbur, the runt of the litter. Wilbur makes friends with the animals in the barn, including even the rat Templeton, and the spider Charlotte. Would you have chosen these last two for friends? How did Wilbur treat them? How did that make them feel?

    Charlotte does her bit to save Wilbur by spinning some words into her web. Why do you think she chose these words?

    The pig brings together the barn community and the whole farming community. Why do you think this happened?
  2. Charlotte struggled very hard to write the last word and this word probably had the most effect on the onlookers. Ask the children what it was.

    What does the word ‘humble’ mean? A humble person is someone who doesn't think that he or she is better or more important than others.
  3. Tell the children that they are going to hear today about two very humble men.

    The first was Jesus. He lived very simply, he treated all people with respect (he thought they were important), with compassion (he cared for them) and with dignity (he didn’t brush aside their worries and concerns). On one occasion he even washed his friends’ dusty feet for them. Jesus was humble.
  4. Many hundreds of years later (in the 1900s) another Christian man showed what it meant to be humble. His name was William Booth. He worked in a pawnbroker's shop. Poor people who earned very little could come to the pawnbroker’s if they needed money for food. The pawnbroker would lend them money if they left some of their possessions with him, like a blanket or item of clothing. If after some time they couldn't repay what they owed, this item would then be sold by the pawnbroker.

    William Booth saw many poor people and he was very concerned for them. He wanted to bring comfort and happiness to their lives. He and some friends started to hold meetings in the open air where anyone was welcome to come and listen to stories about God and how much he loved them. The music was lively and the people made to feel welcome and cared for.

    Crowds of people started to come to these meetings, although there were always some who threw stones and jeered at Booth and his Salvation Army, as it was now called. William Booth knew that it was no use just telling people that God loved even the poor people, he had to show them, and the members of the Salvation Army worked hard to help people in whatever way they could.

    One day, a stranger walked into the Salvation Army headquarters. The man took out his cheque book, signed a cheque and handed it to William Booth. It was for £1,000 – a great deal of money in those days.

    William was amazed and asked the stranger why he was giving away so much money. The story went like this.

    While walking in London one day the stranger had seen a man struggling to load his barrow with scrap iron. He was a small man and it was obvious that he couldn't manage it alone. Then a well-dressed gentleman came over, took off his coat and silk hat, and helped the man to load his barrow. He then walked off before anyone could thank him. The stranger made enquiries and discovered that the gentleman was William Booth.

    ‘If that is what the Salvation Army stands for,’ the stranger said, ‘then I count it as my privilege to help.’ The Salvation Army is still showing God's love to people in this way today.

Time for reflection


Sometimes thinking about the opposite of a word helps us to understand it better.

The opposite of 'humble' is 'proud' or 'arrogant'.

Although it is good to feel proud about our work and achievements,

it is never right to think that we are better than others.



Dear God,

Sometimes we can be selfish and self-important.

If we had been Wilbur we might not have chosen to be friends with the horse,

the cow or the sheep,

perhaps not the spider,

probably not the rat.

We are a bit like that with people too.

Please help us to be humble, like Wilbur and William Booth.



‘Cross over the road’ (Come and Praise, 70)

Publication date: October 2007   (Vol.9 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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