Eric Carle Books
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 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 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 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.
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 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Let the shapes dry.
- 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 !
“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 !