I've read this book to my 16 month old son since he was weeks old. It was a gift from my sister. It's been wonderful to watch him fall in love with it. I posted this pic of him handing me the book and asking me to "reat! reat!" in my Daily Photo album back when he was 11 months old. After we had read it for the third or fourth time this morning, he hugged it. My baby hugged a book. It made my heart smile.
It occurred to me how educational The Very Hungry Caterpillar is after had I read through it the first time. It covers a little of everything, science (it follows the morph cycle of caterpillar into butterfly), health and nutrition (it covers healthy food choices, the importance of food for growth and the consequences of overeating), math and sequencing, colors, basic vocabulary--this book is packed with lots of little lessons and has such an exciting ending for little ones. When the caterpillar turns into a butterfly at the end, Zack insists on holding the book and flapping it closed and open to make the butterfly flutter.
And the artwork. Eric Carle's illustrations (in this book and all the others) could not be any more perfect for children...and adults. I resist the urge to frame his pieces and hang them in Zack's play area because if I do, it will become Eric Carle land--which wouldn't be a bad thing, but I want to keep Zack's exposure to art eclectic (but that's another post). I have this book in Spanish too, because it's also a wonderful primer for early Spanish vocabulary building.
This is one of those old classics that I'm positive my great great grandchildren will still be reading. Nothing like the classics.