My mom told me that no one taught me to love books. I just naturally did. Well, I still do. I guess growing up in the 80’s without internet we now enjoy in the 20th century and having no interest in watching the TV (I still don’t), my choice for entertainment was pretty limited.
I grew up reading National Geographic magazines because dad was a collector. Aside from the NatGeo magazines, we had bible stories, bible, Readers’ Digest, and other books mostly read by the adults in the family. The NatGeo magazines were my favorites. Before I even knew that the Philippine islands consisted of more than seven thousand islands, I knew about the devastating eruption of Pompeii, or how tofu was produced in Japan, or how Indonesians would greet each other “Selamat pagi” (good morning) – the first foreign greeting I learned. The magazine had so much influence on me, my mom once brought me to a “white”, presumably American, dentist and was just amazed to see people I only saw in the magazine up close and personal, I stared at him the whole time! It was through the magazine that I first learned about other countries, civilizations, wars, famine in Africa and all other things that otherwise I would know nothing about pre-kinder.
Only when I became a mom that I got exposed to several baby books, books for young children and books for young adult, the choice was so many, it can get pretty overwhelming. Choosing what books to read to my young children, in particular, was a bit tricky. Kids in the age group 3-5 years old love to play a lot so getting them to settle down to read can be a bit of a challenge. You would need to choose a book that is easily understood at one glance, written in simple language, and has engaging pictures that captures their attention. In addition, this is usually the age that parents prepare the kids for school by helping them develop the habit of reading and learning while having fun altogether. Tricky, right?
Why “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” is Such an Awesome Book
I may not be an expert in child development, but if I were asked to choose only one book to read to young children, I’d say it’s the book, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle. When I took a workshop on “Writing Stories for Children” last year, this book was also highly recommended by my mentor, who is a prolific writer and a three-time winner of Palanca Awards.
I’ve listed down my top reasons why I personally recommend this book for young children:
1. The colors on the book are so vibrant and bold, you can already teach your child about colors by using this book alone.
2. Each page consists of one story line written in simple language. The rest of the page is occupied by colorful drawing thus, making it easy for young children to read and visualize what’s going on in the caterpillar’s short life as it is primarily a picture book.
3. The book consists of layers of teachable concepts – days of the week, metamorphosis of the caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly, different kinds of fruits and vegetables as well as, the concept of night time when the moon is up, and daytime when the sun is up.
4. You can use the book to teach the kids that eating helped turn the caterpillar to even more beautiful butterfly – something to motivate picky eaters to eat fruits and vegetables, and all variety of food. It also teaches about how eating too much can make one sick. Really, this book is also about moderation.
5. You can read this book to older children too while observing a caterpillar in the garden. You can further advance the learning on how butterflies help balance the environment and how these are perfect indicators of pollution level of air around us. This would teach them to love nature more, I believe.