How does Mrs. Phelps help Matilda?

Mrs. Phelps helps Matilda by identifying her reading strengths, encouraging her reading habits, and empowering her to try for longer, more complex reads. She introduces Matilda to the concept of the library, as far as purposes and uses, and all of this makes Matilda a more confident little girl.

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In Roald Dahl's novel Matilda, the character of Mrs. Phelps is beautifully developed. She starts off as simple librarian in High Street who is dumbfounded at little Matilda's presence in the library, particularly at the girl's interest in books that are seemingly way above the reading level of a four year-old.

However, rather than being a stagnant, static character serving as an obstacle in Matilda's reading journey, Mrs. Phelps is the pivotal agent that propels Matilda to try harder, longer books with much more complexity. She lets Matilda read Great Expectations and then introduces her to more Charles Dickens books at Matilda's request.

Along the way, she allows Matilda to lead her own journey of reading and discovery, and she does not get in the way of Matilda's initiative choosing other things to read. All of this shows that Mrs. Phelps empowers Matilda's self-confidence, since some of the things Matilda is most proud of are her love for reading and her books. Mrs. Phelps is the embodiment of what a good educator should be.

Worried about Matilda crossing the busy High Street by herself, Mrs. Phelps also teaches Matilda about the purpose of her library and invites her to start checking out books to take home.

Above all, Mrs. Phelps makes sure not to "make a fuss" about Matilda, for fear that she may either become a spectacle to others—imagine a four-year-old reading Dickens—or become discouraged from reading again.

Almost anyone else witnessing the achievements of this small child would have been tempted to make a great fuss and shout the news all over the village and beyond, but not so Mrs. Phelps. She was someone who minded her own business.

This shows that Mrs. Phelps is a selfless woman who admires Matilda's passion and respects children. She also respects and appreciates the fact that Matilda is a gifted child who needs her space as well as her privacy. Mrs. Phelps empowers Matilda in a great way, and certainly, this is one of the reasons why Matilda is a confident little girl.

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