Eric Carle Author Study and Mini-Focus Writing Lesson by Olivia Sanders-Herndon

Eric Carle is an American author and illustrator. He is notably famous for his story The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Eric Carle was born in Syracuse, New York. He moved to Germany during his early childhood and matriculated from the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, which happens to be a very prestigious art academy. He moved back to New York and became a graphic designer for the New York Times. Eric Carle was also an art director for an advertisement agency for a period of time.

He became an author due to his collaboration with Bill Martin Jr. on Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? After this, Carle began to write his own stories. His literature stands out do to his stunning ability to create eye-popping, hand create artwork but also because of his uncanny molding of an extensive understanding of nature and simplicity. Carle says:

           “With many of my books I attempt to bridge the gap between the home and school. To me home represents, or should represent; warmth, security, toys, holding hands, being held. School is a strange and new place for a child. The unknown often brings fear with it. In my books, I try to counteract this fear, to replace it with a positive message. I believe that children are naturally creative and eager to learn. I want to show them that learning is really both fascinating and fun.”

List of Awards

  • Honorary Degree from Smith College, Northampton, MA , 2014
  • Honorary Degree from Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 2013
  • Great Friend to Kids Awards, Association of Children’s Museums, Pittsburgh, PA 2013
  • The Original Art Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Illustrators, New York, NY, 2010
  • Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Literature Award presented by the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library, 2008
  • Honorary Degree from Bates College, Lewiston, ME, 2007
  • The NEA Foundation Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education, 2007
  • John P. McGovern Award in Behavioral Sciences, Smithsonian Institution, 2006
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder Award from the Association for Library Service to Children, American Library Association, 2003
  • Honorary Degree from Niagara University, Niagara, NY, 2002
  • Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, 2001
  • Honorary Degree from College of Our Lady the Elms, Chicopee, MA, 2001
  • Japan Picture Book Award, Presented by Mainichi Newspaper for Lifetime Achievement, 2000
  • Outstanding Friend of Children, Pittsburgh Children’s Museum, 1999
  • Regina Medal, Catholic Library Association, 1999
  • University of Southern Mississippi Medallion from DeGrumond Collection, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattisburg, MS, 1997
  • The 1995 David McCord Children’s Literature Citation, Framingham State College + The Nobscot Reading Council of the International Reading Association, 1995
  • Silver Medal from the City of Milano, Italy, 1989

The above list is a selection of awards Eric Carle has won over the years. In addition, Eric Carle has won many awards for his books including First Prize for Picture Books from the International Children’s Book Fair, Bologna, Italy; the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Best Book Award, The American Institute of Graphics Award, the Selection Du Grand Prix Treize, France, as well as awards from The Association of Booksellers for Children, The American Booksellers Association and The American Library Association.

Biographical Notes for Eric Carle. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2017, from

My read selection of books by Eric Carle:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Mister Seahorse

The Artist Who Painted A Blue Horse

The Greedy Python

Literary Strategies:

  1. Artful And…
    1. The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse (2011): “I am an artist and I paint…a blue horse and…a red crocodile and…a yellow cow and…a pink rabbit and…a green lion and…an orange elephant and…a purple fox and…a black polar bear and…a polka-dotted donkey.”
    2. This style of writing could be used for stretching a particular idea or trait. I would use this strategy to help students recognize and understand community helpers. I would model by telling students: “I am a teacher and I teach students how to…put two groups together to add and…how to split items apart through subtraction and…how to read a map and…how to put words together and…how to take words apart and…how to take care of self, others and…how to take care of things. The students would select a community helper of interest and brainstorm/research some things that person is responsible for and write/illustrate a short story of their own following this style.
  2. Items in a Series
    1. The Greedy Python (1985): “Half hidden in the jungle green, the biggest snake that there has been looped back and forth and in between.”
    2. This style of writing could be used to group items together. I would use this strategy to encourage students to transition into multi-step writing. I would have students select a dish their family cooks and have them work with an adult in their house to write out the steps to the recipe. We would put all the multi-step recipes together to make a community cookbook.
  3. Repetitive Sequencing
    1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar (1987): “On Monday he ate through one apple. But he was still hungry. On Tuesday he ate through two pears, but he was still hungry.” This pattern continues through all seven days of the week.
    2. This strategy is useful to help students sequence events. I would have the students chart one activity they play at recess each day of the week. They would write their own version of The Very Active (Child’s name) and follow the story line On Monday I played…but…On Tuesday I played…but… They would illustrate their book after writing.
  4. Repetitive Sentencing
    1. Mister Seahorse (2004): Mister Seahorse drifts gently through the sea and passes by a variety of sea creatures. He continuously stops to ask another father fish how he is and have a brief conversation. After this he drifts gently through the sea again and passes by another type of sea creature. This pattern continues throughout the story until Mister Seahorse gives birth the babies.
    2. This strategy is good for tracking a journey or a process with small detail. Students would participate in a writing exercise that requires them to choose an animal that migrates and write a realistic fictional piece detailing the experiences the selected animal might encounter on its journey.

Lesson Plan

Grade: 2nd grade

Focus Mini-Lesson: Eric Carle


“Today we are going to read an excerpt from The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. As I read this passage to you, I want you to practice listening and reading like a writer. Think about all the things you notice about how Carle is writing this story. Here we go: On Monday he ate through one apple. But he was still hungry. On Tuesday he ate through two pears, but he was still hungry. On Wednesday he ate through three plums, but he was still hungry. On Thursday he ate through four strawberries, but he was still hungry. On Friday he ate through five oranges, but he was still hungry.

I would ask a couple of students what they noticed about the author’s writing. Hopefully they would notice that he used the same sentence structure for everyday of the week and that the amount of food increased from day to day. I would suggest that the author might have written this way to demonstrate the length of time it takes for change to occur.

Teaching Point

“Writers tend to use Same Sentence Structure to create a rhythm within the story and demonstrate a gradual change over time. The sequencing orders events from the beginning to the end. The repetition provides an understanding of a reoccurring process that slowly produces change. We see these in this story as the caterpillar eats more and more food every day until he is too full.”


“Let’s look at how Eric Carle uses this strategy in The Tiny Seed as well. Throughout the story, the tiny seed travels through each season with the same sentence structure: Now it is (Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn again).” Turn to the appropriate pages in the book (2, 13, 15, 23 and 27) and show the students.

“We also see this in Purple, Green and Yellow by Robert Munsch when Bridget needs a new set of markers that does something different every week until she completely covers herself in marker and comes to a surprising fate at the end of her story. Every week Bridget tells her mother how much she needs those new coloring markers.”  

             Open the book to the pages (2, 7, 11 and 14) with examples  and read the passages where Bridget pleads her case to her mother for new coloring markers by saying: “Mommy I need new coloring markers…” to which her mother replies “oh no…”

            Point out how these same sentence structures occur throughout Carle’s and Munsch’s books to keep readers on track and emphasize a gradual change within the storyline that leads to a momentous transformation at the end.

Guided Practice

“I could use this strategy in my writing by transcribing my exercise routine throughout the week. For example, On Monday I lift 5 pound weights at the gym and run on the treadmill for 15 minutes but I still have energy (write it in the air for each sentence). On Tuesday I lift 10 pounds and run for 30 minutes but I still have energy. On Wednesday I lift 15 pounds and run for 45 minutes but I still have energy. On Thursday I lift 20 pounds and run for 60 minutes but I still have energy. On Friday I lift 25 pounds and run for 75 minutes but I still have energy. That night my body ached! On Saturday, I take a break and I sleep all day!”


“Think of one thing you do that you gradually change throughout the week. Maybe how much you practice a sport or how long you play a certain game during recess. What other topics could we use for this strategy? Tell your elbow partner (make a class list of three to five ideas from student ideas). Now let’s try it!”


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