Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Day 1 of the Book-a-Day in May challenge called for "A Classic" and is there a book more classic than this one?

The Very Hungry Caterpillar has a special significance for our family. While pregnant with Maximilian, I was always hungry and so "the very hungry caterpillar" became his in utero name. When looking for a first book to buy before he was born, there really was no choice - it had to be this one!

We chose the big BIG board book version, because we knew we wanted to read it with him at a very early age and board books are so hardy. As it turns out, it was an excellent decision - it is a nice large size so the illustrations are very engaging and the holes where the caterpillar eats through the food are just the right size for little fingers!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a simple and engaging story of a caterpillar's metamorphosis into a butterfly. The language is clear and repetitive, excellent for early learning, and the illustrations are simple, colourful and interesting. We started to enjoy this book together when Maximilian was around six months old. As he has grown older and his concentration has improved, it has remained a firm favourite. Now, at almost eighteen months, he can point to the little egg on the leaf, the moon, the sun and the many kinds of food, so it is still a really interactive reading experience.

Very Hungry Caterpillar birthday party
The other day I was totally blown away when I asked Maximilian to get me the very hungry caterpillar book from his bookshelf and he toddled over and chose the correct book from the dozens there and brought it back to me to read. (I'm often surprised at the moment by just how much he understands - it really is fascinating to watch the evolution of language and comprehension unfold!)

First published in 1969, I am sure this book needs no further introduction as it has remained in print and popular ever since. Quite the franchise now, there is a huge array of Hungry Caterpillar merchandise available and it is a popular theme for children's birthday parties too - we went to a first birthday party with this theme and it was very cleverly executed and lots of fun. There are also heaps of free online resources to use based around this book - great for parents, teachers and librarians looking for book themed activities.

This really is a book that every child will enjoy for many years. Like I said, a classic!

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