in loving memory of Eric Carle
One of our favourite books to promote early literacy at Alpha’s Discovery Kids is The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle. In fact, it was the inspiration for our metamorphosis project last month. Amid our metamorphosis project, author and illustrator of this iconic children’s book, Eric Carle passed away on May 23rd, 2021, at the age of 91. Eric Carle will live on in our hearts and through his legacy of great literature.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar was among many fantastic Eric Carle books known around the world. Other beloved titles from Eric Carle include The Very Busy Spider, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse.
For many educators, parents and children of all ages, his works have been a staple in their children’s literature collection. Carle’s incredible collection of work has earned him a variety of accolades, including the Children’s Literature Legacy Award.
Here are three reasons why we love Eric Carle books!
1. Predictive Text
Predictive text builds confidence in young readers. In most of his early literacy books, the designated format repeats throughout the text and allows children to predict it. When young readers pick up on the pattern, you see the sparkle in their eyes. At first, they read along with you. Then, they use the pictures along with the pattern to feel like they are “reading”. This develops confidence right from the start. Be sure to point to each word as you read it to demonstrate one-to-one correspondence.
2. Life and Life Lessons
The Very Hungry Caterpillar is amazingly useful in so many ways. It creates a sensorial early literacy experience when children touch the holes on each page. When children engage their senses beyond listening during a literacy experience, they retain more knowledge. Any time that children are touching, feeling, and interacting with the text, is a win! Additionally, the very hungry caterpillar can be tied into many real-life topics and teachable moments such as the life cycle of a butterfly, eating healthy and the days of the week.
- The Grouchy Ladybug – teaches about manners and encouraging prosocial interaction to build connections with others in an appropriate way.
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is an all time classic that teaches children colours, and animal names in an abstract and imaginative way using unexpected colours like “purple cat” or “blue horse”
- Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? and Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? have the same predictable patterns. Panda Bear addresses endangered animals, which can be a great way to tie in social studies. You can identify where the animals in the book live on a map and talk about ways to help these animals by doing things like taking care of the environment.
3. The Illustrations are AMAZING!
Eric Carle’s art is distinctive and instantly recognizable. His artwork is created in collage technique, using hand-painted papers, which he cuts and layers to form bright and cheerful images. The brush strokes show texture and dimension and a signature creation that can only be connected to his unique style. A true work of art on every page!
These books inspired us to create our own book using his technique. Here’s what we did, and you can do this at home too!
- Paint an open-ended abstract picture.
- Ask the child to name their favorite animal.
- Cut out the painted picture into strips or shapes.
- Glue the pieces together in the shape of their favourite animal. They may need some assistance with this part.
- Add the text in the format “Child’s Name, Child’s Name, what do you see?
- Record the name of the animal and colour with the text. “I see a Colour Animal looking at me!”
- You can laminate the page and create more pages to make a book. Assemble the pages with a hole punch and binder ring.
Voila! You have your own homemade “Eric Carle” style book that your family will treasure! Our children love to make homemade books and keep going back to read them over and over again!
Take a look at our metamorphosis project video.