Noah’s interest in reading caterpillar-related books was revived recently, after we successfully raised four swallowtail/common lime butterflies. (You can read about how we raised our butterflies in this post.)
Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a staple in almost everyone’s personal library, and it was also in my list of Best Baby Board Books that I compiled last year. We were given a pre-loved copy of it before Noah was born, and it was one of the books that I read regularly to him when he was a baby.
Reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar at two months old
The book tells the story of a very hungry little caterpillar going around eating more and more different things, until he is no longer hungry nor little. The caterpillar then builds a house around itself, before emerging as a beautiful butterfly. The book calls the caterpillar’s house a cocoon, but I recently learnt that for butterflies, it’s called either a pupa or a chrysalis, so if you’re reading this book to your child, this might be something worth pointing out. Children can also learn about the days of the week, and work on their counting skills, as the caterpillar adds an additional item to his diet daily.
With its colourful and eye-catching illustrations, it is easy to understand why The Very Hungry Caterpillar is considered a classic by many parents and book lovers. Children will love sticking their fingers in the holes in the book, as they track the caterpillar’s progress through the week. Of course, caterpillars don’t eat cakes, cheese, or most of the items listed, but I guess that’s what makes the book more fun to read. Can you imagine reading, “On Monday, he ate through one leaf… on Tuesday, he ate through two leaves…” Yawn.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Noah enjoys flipping through this book on his own, and because he’s heard me read it to him so many times, he can recite bits of it too. He loves putting his fingers into the holes, and counts them as he goes along, but his absolute favourite part is when the caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. He never fails to exclaim loudly whenever he gets to that page, and now that he has actually witnessed caterpillars becoming butterflies for himself, he will go on to talk about his caterpillars and butterflies after we read this book.
I managed to borrow the DVD of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other Stories from the library, and Noah was really tickled to be able to watch the book come alive through animation. We have some of the other books as well, and the stories are really short, so it’s a good alternative if you want to expose your child to a different reading of the stories, but don’t want them to have too much screen time.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other Stories (DVD)
I can’t remember when or where I bought Ten Little Caterpillars, but this is a simple, yet engaging book for young readers. Ten little caterpillars embark on their journeys, and each caterpillar’s story is told in one simple line, spread across two pages. The sentences actually rhyme, and if you’ve read my previous Friday Flips posts, you’d know that I’m a huge fan of simple rhymes for young children.
As with The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the illustrations in Ten Little Caterpillars are bright, bold, and colourful, with a few other little details for little eyes to spot. Noah likes it when I ask him to look for the caterpillar on each page, and then for other insects, such as the dragonfly, and ladybugs. At the end of the story, there are the different caterpillars and the butterflies or moths that they grow into, which is really quite interesting. We probably don’t get to see many, or even any, of them in Singapore, as the book states the types of food these caterpillars eat, and they all sounded pretty foreign to me.
Ten Little Caterpillars
Staring at the caterpillar in the jar
I recently went to the library, and was pleased to be able to borrow Maxilla, written by local author Lianne Ong. A boy called Reuben finds Maxilla the caterpillar in his school’s garden, and wants to keep it as a pet. He learns from a scientist that cabbage butterfly caterpillars need to be in their natural habitats to look for their own food, but struggles with the decision to release it, as he had grown very fond of it. In the end, he does his best to help the caterpillar camouflage itself, and returns it to his school’s garden.
I thought it might be a tad too wordy for Noah, but was pleasantly surprised that he sat through the entire book quite happily. He pointed excitedly at the caterpillar on the first page, and went into his usual speech about how he had caterpillars and then they became butterflies, before letting me continue reading, but I guess it’s good in a way, because that means he is able to make the connection to his own personal experience. He was rather disturbed that the caterpillar had to be returned to the garden, and kept asking me why Reuben couldn’t keep the caterpillar instead, like he did, so I had to tell him that it was a different kind of caterpillar.
We both liked the note from Maxilla at the end, where the life cycle of a butterfly was explained in simple language and illustrations. It’s a good way for young children to learn, and Noah likes looking at those pages on his own quite a bit, before asking me to read them to him. He usually likes bringing out a book or two to flip through during car-rides, and the morning after I read it to him, he picked it out of the stack to read in the car, which is a sign that he likes the book. I’ll be getting a copy of it from the bookstore soon, since he gets upset whenever I have to return books that he really enjoys. I strongly believe that there is no such thing as having too many books, and will gladly let Noah have as many books as he likes, because reading is an excellent habit.
“There’s the caterpillar!”
All three books are definitely worth reading with your children, especially if you are keen to introduce them to the life cycle of a butterfly, and if you manage to get some caterpillars to rear at home. Nothing like a real hands-on experience to help children understand what they’ve read!
PS. We visited the Penang Butterfly Farm last year, and bought a book about insects from their gift shop, so if you ever visit it, do remember to get a copy of the book as well. You can read more about our experience there HERE.
PPS. I’ve added some extra links from The Groovy Giraffe below, as the deals are really very good. Don’t forget to use the discount code GWTT to get an additional 5% off the listed price!
Buy the Book The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Borrow the Book The Very Hungry Caterpillar / Junior Lending Picture Book / English CAR-[BA] / Check for availability here The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other Stories / Junior Lending Audiovisual / English 791.45 CAR / Check for availability here Ten Little Caterpillars / Junior Lending Picture Book / English MAR / Check for availability here Maxilla / Juvenile Lending Singapore / English ONG / Check for availability here
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