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 The Very Hungry Caterpillar

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Hippocampus
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Age : 41
Location : Wales

PostSubject: The Very Hungry Caterpillar   Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:08 am

Our lower shelves are now filled with sturdy, colourful books. They have a variety of "lift the flap" and "pop up" devices. Some of them are "touchy-feely" with textured pages while others have sound effects. Every evening, when I return from work, all of the books have been removed from the shelves, opened and distributed randomly around our flat. My one-year-old daughter loves them. What amazes me is that these books (which take less than five minutes to read) can hold her attention day after day and week after week. In fact, she seems to prefer familiar books to new ones. It takes several days of reading a book before she really begins to like it. It makes me wonder whether, for her, looking at a book is like listening to a piece of music - something that grows on you with repeated exposure.

Reading a book to a very young child is also an interesting experience. I am never entirely sure how much she understands, so I find myself testing her, asking her to point to objects as I name them. The story ceases to be a simple narrative and becomes a game and a learning exercise. Every time I read the same book to her, the story and the experience is slightly different.

One thing that I haven't quite grasped is what makes a good child's book. I know which ones I like and I know which ones she likes but it is difficult to find common features. Some books just seem to have a magic ingredient that makes them special.

For example, Eric Carle's "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" is a work of genius, but I am not entirely sure why.
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Calwyn
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PostSubject: Re: The Very Hungry Caterpillar   Thu Oct 14, 2010 7:10 pm

Because it's printed on awesomepaper. Wink

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RainCloud
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PostSubject: Re: The Very Hungry Caterpillar   Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:00 pm

That is extremely thought provoking, Hippocampus.
a) I think children like these books with touchy bits and moving parts because that is something they can relate to, something they like and have experienced before. It makes the words, that are unfamiliar, difficult, and counterintuitive, easier to understand and grasp.

b) Why does it take so long to make a book a favorite and then how can it entertain for hours?
Looking back to my own childhood, I remember liking a book only after I had explored everything the book could do physically. Only then could I actually understand what the book meant (and it was just fun to do!). That is really the only thing I can think of to answer that, which is basically what I said above (although I hadn't yet thought of the personal experience).

c) What makes a children's book good?
Gah. There are so many good children's books and you're right! They have so little in common. Part of it, in my opinion, is which books adults tell children are good. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is an example of that imo. I thought it was a stupid book as a small child but then an adult told me it was good and read it to me. It was very colorful and the adult had said it was good so I decided I liked it.
I have heard they have to be relatable to the child.
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