Eric Carle Books

I adore Eric Carle books. Not just because they are bold, bright and inviting for kids and their imaginations but because I have enjoyed teaching with them for years. First my students then my own son and soon my daughter too. Here are some of the many books we have reviewed of his over the years.

A House for Hermit Crab is a book I have owned for many years. It offers so many learning opportunities for young readers and doesn’t loose any of the entertainment in trying to hard to teach. The hermit crab feels drab and each month he asks different sea creatures to help decorate his shell . As the shell is getting more and more beautiful it’s also getting more and more snug and almost time for the hermit crab to leave it behind and find a bigger one.  The book teaches about sea creatures, months of the year and moving. More than moving it teaches about change . Change is  difficult for all of us but a little trickier for most preschoolers which makes this book so valuable .

Draw Me a Star is often not read in classrooms simply because of a depiction of a naked man and woman. It’s not what most parents expect to find in an Eric Carle book but it is very fitting in this beautiful and really touching book. The story although very similar to a biblical creation story isn’t necessarily reflective only of a christian view point , rather as I read it is was the author’s own creation. It begins and ends with a star , and hits all the right points in between.

Hello, Red Fox is a fun interactive book about colors and the color wheel. Kids will love the “trick” on each page. The trick being that if you stare at a color for long enough then stare at a blank page the complimentary color will appear! This book is great, but not for a group, a class will disintegrate into “Let me!!” and “My turn!” quickly so this is really is best read one on one!

Mister Seahorse is a story about the more involved fish fathers in the sea. Mister seahorse isn’t the only fish that takes care of his eggs until they hatch , in the book we meet other dads that do too. I didn’t realize how many people don’t like this book until I read some reviews on amazon when ordering the book a few months ago. Many parents are off put by the father fish who announces he is “babysitting” his own baby fish. It never really bugged me even though when a parent says that in real life it irks me. All the positive daddy fish outweighs that one comment for me.

Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle ( illustrator) What I appreciate about this book isn’t just the vibrant illustrations or the repetitive text that encourages children to recite it along with the reader, it’s that the book is a great intro to endangered animals. The book introduces readers to animals like the giant panda , bald eagle and giant sea turtle that are all endangered.  When my son was little he liked the repetition, colors and rhythm the test provides, now that he is older reading this book sparks talks about taking care of the earth and all her inhabitants.

The Greedy Python by Richard Buckley and  Eric Carle ( illustrator) is a fun fable about a snake that is so greedy he eats all the animals in the jungle, even ones much larger than him like an elephant! My son thinks this book is hilarious and loves that the animals work together to escape their fate.  The story gets even sillier when the greedy snake ends up eating his own tail!

The Grouchy Ladybug is more than a cute book about a crabby bug. The Lady bug is looking for a fight and each hour she finds a bigger and bigger animal to fight with until she is unintentionally slapped by a big whale’s tail! I loved using this book to teach telling time, as there is a picture of an analog clock on each page. I would use a play clock and as I read each page ask one child to come and set our classroom clock. Also don’t be put off by the fact that the lady bug tries to pick fights, no animal takes her up on her offer and you can spin that into a great lesson about not giving into people who are trying to pick fights.

The Very Busy Spider was a favorite of my son’s from the get go. We have the board book edition and what I love about it, is that the spider web in it is raised and offers a sensory element to reading the story. This is a story of hard work, persistence and also helps reinforce animal sounds. Perfect for toddlers !

The Very Hungry Caterpillar When I sat down to think which book is my absolute favorite, the one that kept coming back into my mind was this classic. As a child the holes the caterpillar made in the pages fascinated me, the colors enchanted me and I remembering being amazed that the caterpillar turned into that huge colorful butterfly! In university while studying elementary education I chose this book as the literary inspiration for a cross curricular unit study for grade 1.  I made math lessons with fruit, science lessons about observing insects and the butterfly life cycle and health lessons about smart food choices. Then teaching preschool I used this awesome book to teach the days of the week, basic counting and more. When I was pregnant I chose this book along with a few other favorites to be my son’s nursery theme. Now that my son is 3 we often pull down the Very Hungry Caterpillar felt board and play with it as we read the story. To me this book is a given, and for every stage of my life, student, student teacher, teacher, mother it has come along for the ride!

The Very Lonely Firefly was one of my son’s favorite books to read before bed when he was a toddler, not so much because of the story but because the board book version has flashing lights at the end ! The story is all about a firefly looking for another firefly but mistaking all different light for a friend. Toddlers love this book because it gives them a chance to be bossy and say ” No that’s a flashlight” to the firefly. The text is the right length for little guys but not boring for older kids , and I need to mention the little lights are really quite magical in a dark bedroom, especially if you are in a place that doesn’t have fireflies!

Which Eric Carle book is your favorite?

Books About Caterpillars

ctaerpillar books for kids March 20th is the anniversary of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, my very favorite children’s book. So today’s book list is inspired by it, I am without doubt that these books were influenced by the 1969 classic as well.

percival the plain caterpillar

Percival the Plain Little Caterpillar by Helen Brawley is one of my son’s favorite books right now, due to the fact that there are shiny and shimmery pictures throughout! The story though leaves something to be desired, as the message seems to be that being plain is bad and the only fix for poor Percival is when he turns into a beautiful butterfly! When reading this to my class I would often interject with questions to my students about what they thought was cool about Percival, and that combated the undesirable message that you have to be beautiful to be worthy.

 bob and otto book

Bob and Otto by Robert O. Bruel is a lovely story about 2 friends who must part ways , in this case because one is a caterpillar who needs to build a chrysalis and the other an earth worm who needs to dig deep into the ground. What I like about this book is that it goes on to explain that the earth worm’s digging is vital for the trees to grow so that the caterpillar can eat the leaves and turn into a butterfly. I like the lesson about how we all play a part!

the crunching munching caterpillar

The Crunching Munching Caterpillar by Sheridan Cain is another story about a caterpillar who is not happy about his lot in life. There is a fair bit of language that some parents would object to. This caterpillar is often reminded that he is too fat to fly- so that poses a few challenges to parents like myself who are trying to instill healthy body images as well as using respectful words with others in our children. I have dealt with this book in two ways, first by saying that the caterpillar is getting fat but it’s a good thing because he will be sleeping for a long time in his chrysalis and needs that fat to live. Also I have simply replaced fat with big, a word that is much less ugly to many people’s ears.

very hungry caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is a classic, that most preschool teachers like myself can recite from memory. It really is a fantastic book, not only does it explain the life cycle of a caterpillar/ butterfly it also is useful for lesson about day of the week and healthy eating! It was a childhood favorite of mine and if the fact that he fell asleep holding his ” Pillar” is any indication it is already one of my son’s favorites too!

From Cateroillar to Butterfly

From Caterpillar to Butterfly by Deborah Heligiman is part of my favorite non fiction for kids series ” Let’s Read and Find Out Science”.  I always grab these books at garage sales and thrift stores. In this edition you follow a classroom of students observing a caterpillar as it metamorphosis into a butterfly. A classic spring activity for preschool age children to discover and learn about life cycles. Also a perfect match for your own Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden which I highly recommend and will be doing this year with my son. Reading non fiction with your preschoolers is important as it teaches them seamlessly that writing and reading is not just for stories but for information too.

caterpillar and polliwog

The Caterpillar and the Polliwog by Jack Kent is a sentimental favorite. I remember being read this book in elementary school when learning about life cycles. It’s more than just about life cycles of butterflies and frogs, it’s about becoming comfortable with who you are. I remember thinking it was hilarious when the caterpillar tells the turtle that she will be changing into something else not just getting bigger and bigger and he replies with ” I don’t blame you.” It made me snort as an adult too. Good for preschool through the early elementary years and if like me you read it as a child there is of course the sentimental factor. I love sharing books from my childhood with my kids.

Home is where the heart is

Shape House!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some cardboard, I like using old cereal boxes cause they accumulate quickly around my house. Also some paint, a paint brush, some scissors and glue.
  2. Cut out the shapes to make your house. Don’t limit yourself to the shapes I used, ovals, diamonds and pentagons make great windows too! I kept it simple because of the age of my child, but with older children this can be a complicated and long activity.
  3. Paint the house pieces. To help teach colors and shapes, I lined the paint colors up and asked my son which color he wanted and repeated the name when he pointed it out. Then did the same with the shape.
  4. As we painted each shape I removed that color so that he would use different ones, with older kids this may not work and that’s fine, let them have a say on the colors, but with little ones you can try this.
  5. Let the shapes dry.
  6. Once they are dry glue the pieces on. I put the glue on the house and had my son pop them on. Don’t worry if the chimney ends up in the doorway- remember it’s their house !

Books!

” Building a House” by Byron Barton is a no frills look at how homes are built. The bright colors and concise wording is perfect for preschoolers. I love that there is writing on one page and illustrations on the other, makes it super easy to show children the pictures as well as for them to see you follow the text with your finger!

“Moving Day” by Stan and Jan Berenstain is a fantastic book all about moving. Moving is really hard on everyone and this book doesn’t forget about the feelings of the littlest people in your family! If you are moving or considering a move this book is a great book to have on hand. I really like how it addresses the anxiety that Brother Bear has over leaving his old house for his new one!
“A House For A Hermit Crab” by Eric Carle is a fun book about a hermit crab’s search for things to make her house just perfect! Each month she finds another thing in the ocean to add to her house. This book is a good teaching tool for months of the year, sea life and home !

Additional Activities

Build a Fort!

If you have a tent and good weather you can go outside, or if you are stuck inside you can grab a blanket and some chairs or sofa cushions and make an indoor fort! Ask your child what they NEED to have in a house then help them find it and put it in their “house”. Apparently my son’s must haves are his water and one of my mixing bowls!