Jack has a bedtime routine that includes two stories before bed. I always let him select the books and I always smile when he chooses The Very Hungry Caterpillar. As a child I loved Eric Carle books. As an adult I’ve come appreciate them even more. Not because of the underlying messages in the stories but because of the lack of them. Sometimes the perfect story is one that is simple and straight forward. And that’s what Eric Carle’s books have been for me; wonderful stories about the beautiful world around us.
There’s nothing wrong with stories that have a deeper meaning. But every now and then it’s nice to read a story and appreciate the art without dissecting the thing. That’s not to say that these stories are mindless creations with no message. Most are very educational in a basic way. The Very Hungry Caterpillar talks about the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly, Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me is about how the moon changes over time and Rooster’s Off to See the World starts kids on their counting skills. And then there’s The Mixed Up Chameleon which is very obviously about how great it is to be yourself.
There’s so much to appreciate in these stories. The art showcases the wonder and beauty of the natural world. The writing is simple and quick (perfect for bedtime!) but still manages to be mysterious or funny or informative. What’s wonderful is there’s so many Eric Carle stories to enjoy. I’m still discovering stories I didn’t know existed and even now that I’m an adult I get excited about reading them. That’s the wonderful thing about Eric Carle’s stories, they are timeless.