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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

A birthday of note

March 20, 2009

Forty is a milestone for anyone, but it's especially impressive for a something that started out small, grew with each morsel consumed, went away for a while, and emerged to fly.

As you've probably guessed, it's the small green, very hungry, and ever-popular caterpillar, of course.

And the Very Hungry Caterpillar (Philomel) is now 40 years old. It, like his much loved creator Eric Carle, seems to be part of the fabric of children's early experiences.

There really is a lot to love about this character and the book which made him famous.

Cleverly crafted, luminous images on pages of different sizes that help build suspense combine with a very straightforward text. The pages even include a tactile experience for young hands (where the caterpillar has eaten through fruits and more).

Children are introduced to the variety of foods that the caterpillar eats, they hear the progression of days of the week, and see the life cycle of a caterpillar from egg to chrysalis to butterfly.

The special 40th annivesary pop-up book is absolutely astonishing. (Be sure to take a look at the video on Amazon; it gives insight into the book, the author, and his process.) It's a work of art in its own right.

The small green caterpillar has made it into the national media, Google even adapted its banner for the occasion, and there are special programs all over.

What a way to celebrate a birthday!

And you know, my guess is that this adorable worm-like character is going to eat his way into the hearts and minds of many more generations to come.


Maria, Thanks for choosing one of my favorite books to share with us! I'm looking forward to focusing on this wonderful book with my students. The links and resources you provided will be a big help!

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"Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift." — Kate DiCamillo