The very hungry caterpillar is a heart warming story about a little caterpillar’s journey to becoming a beautiful butterfly. Like all books, there is not one right way to read this classic book to your kids. If you’re interested in a new twist to telling this story, keep on reading.
Go off script: It’s hard to do at first, but you don’t have to read the words on every page. Especially when kids are young, book reading is about sharing time and a common story together. You can just talk about what you see on the page. Look the caterpillar is sleeping! Uhoh, where is that caterpillar going? Wow! I see a lot of food. If you see you kid looking at something in particular on a page, you can talk about that object or action instead of the storyline. It’s ok if your kid is way more interested in talking about the moon on the first page, than the egg. Your kid will learn best by listening and talking about what they are interested in.
“Eat” the food: Pretend you are both hungry little caterpillars and pretend to eat the various food items during the story. At this point of the story, I often bring the book very close to my face and make a dramatic munching sound and then hold the book out to the kiddo to offer if they’d like any apple too. You can copy each other’s goofy eating sounds. On some foods you can say “mmmmm” and with other foods you might even pretend to spit out and say “bleh”.
Repeat yourself: Often when we see three plums all lined up on a picture, we want to count 1-2-3 plums. But if your kid doesn’t know this word yet, you also can repeat yourself and say “plum-plum-plum” as you point to each individual fruit. This is a great way to teach new vocabulary.
Sizes: On almost every page, the little caterpillar is next to something very big (e.g., sun, leaf, moon). Talk about sizes of the items on the page. This is also a great lesson because the caterpillar grows to become big towards the end of the story. Don’t be afraid to be dramatic when saying big/little. I often use a deeper voice and stretch my arms out when I say biiiiiiiiiiiig and then cower my shoulders, talk in a high pitch voice, and pinch my fingers close when I say little.
Actions: The caterpillar is fairly predictable in this book and so it might be fun for your kid to catch onto some great action words while reading. Wake up, walk, eat, push, fly are all actions that the caterpillar does in this book.
Not only is The Very Hungry Little Caterpillar a colorful book with a meaningful story, but there are also so many concepts that you can point out during this classic story. Whether you want to talk about food items, sizes, actions, or goofy sounds, your toddler is bound to learn lots from book reading time with you.