2014 marks 45 years of the beloved books and vibrant illustrations of Eric Carle. In 1969 the world was introduced to a very hungry caterpillar that went about eating everything from leaves to ice cream cones. The brightly colored pictures and minimal words made his books perfect read aloud books for young children. Since that hungry caterpillar ate its way into our hearts Eric Carle has illustrated more than 70 books, most of which he wrote. He has sold over 110 million copies of his books worldwide.
Carle was born in 1929 in New York, but spent his life growing up in World War II Germany. Suffering from PTSD from spending his childhood in war ridden Germany and having spent his life yearning to return to the United States, Carle moved back to New York in 1952. He received a job as a graphic designer with The New York Times. Following being drafted during the Korean War he returned to his position with The Times and later became the Art Director of an advertising agency. Although The Very Hungry Caterpillar is Carle’s most widely recognized book, he started his Children’s Lit career collaborating on the picture book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? after author Bill Martin, having taken notice of a red lobster Carle had created for an advertisement, asked for Carle’s assistance.
Carle’s artwork is uniquely distinctive and immediately recognizable. He uses a technique called “collage,” in which he uses hand-painted papers, which he cuts and layers to form vibrant and colorful images. He adds dimension to his books using a variety of elements like die-cut pages, twinkling lights, even lifelike sounds.
Carle’s love and widespread knowledge of nature are prominent in the themes of his books. Carle strives to make his books not only enjoyable, but he also offers his readers the opportunity to learn something about the world around them. He has said, concerning his books, “I believe that children are naturally creative and eager to learn. I want to show them that learning is really both fascinating and fun.”
Here are some resources from others who have used Eric Carle’s books in their classrooms:
Here at Knowledge Tree we are prepared to help you celebrate, with your class, 45 years of Eric Carle.