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 earthworm who needs to dig deep into the ground. What I like about this book is that it goes on to explain that the earthworm’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 a lesson about the days of the week and healthy eating! It was a childhood favorite of mine and it’s been a favorite of every class I’ve ever taught.
From Caterpillar to Butterfly by Deborah Heligiman is part of my favorite nonfiction 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 nonfiction with your preschoolers is important as it teaches them seamlessly that writing and reading are 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.