Each new topic of study in the classroom brings about new books for our little ones to read (or have read to them). I know when I think of books about insects, my mind immediately goes to The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. It was one of my favorites when I was a kid and is still one of my favorites today. I can't wait to do butterfly crafts and laugh with the kids about how much the caterpillar in the story ate. But after this book, can you quickly think of any more? And what am I going to do? Spend a whole month on JUST this one book? Of course not! That's why I have put together this little list of 5 books about insects that are NOT The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
1. Hey, Little Ant | written by Phillip & Hannah Hoose, Illustrated by Debbie Tilley
This book has quickly become one of my favorites for the message it brings. It doesn't teach much about insects themselves, but rather it uses them to teach about empathy & compassion. The premise of this book is that a little boy is about to step on an ant, but then the ant starts talking & begs the boy not to squish him. What does the boy decide in the end? We don't find out, but this can lead to a great discussion to have with your students about what they think he should do. This book was originally a song by Phillip & Hannah Hoose, a father-daughter team, and the music is featured in the back of the book to sing with your class!
2. Ten Little Caterpillars | written by Bill Martin Jr., Illustrated by Lois Ehlert
This counting book is brought to you by the same team who wrote & illustrated Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, so you know it will be a hit in your classroom. The beautiful watercolor collages are eye-catching & beautiful. In this counting book, we see each caterpillar take a different path—some of them even becoming another animal's lunch! By the time we get to the tenth caterpillar, we hope it will successfully become a butterfly, and that's exactly what happens. This book is an excellent tool for not only teaching about the butterfly life-cycle, but for counting and quantifying up to ten as well.
3. From Caterpillar to Butterfly | written by Deborah Heiligman, illustrated by Bari Weissman
This is another book about caterpillars & butterflies, but it focuses much more on the amazing transformation these insects make. In this book, a class has just caught some caterpillars and placed them in a jar with some leaves for their classroom. Your class will learn some important vocabulary about butterflies, like "metamorphosis" and "chrysilis". From Caterpillar to Butterfly is more about the facts than a story, but we get to see what happens to the caterpillars through the eyes of the students in a fictional classroom. This would be a great book to use to introduce your own caterpillars into the class and follow along as they undergo their own metamorphosis. (I got my butterfly net with caterpillars from Insect Lore)
4. Bugs Are Insects | written by Anne Rockwell, illustrated by Steve Jenkins
We call them "bugs" all the time, but what makes a bug an insect? Find out with this non-fiction book from the Let's-Find-Out-Science series. We get introduced to different common insects and even learn about the difference between insects and spiders. The cut-paper illustrations are beautiful and some even look like real bugs! This book has just enough information to keep your students interested & learning, but not so much that they begin daydreaming about what game they played before bed last night.
5. National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Bugs | written by Catherine D. Hughes
Non-fiction is such an important part of the classroom, and I think it is often overlooked as a valuable resource. This book from National Geographic is full of bright illustrations of insects and short entries about each image to keep your students engaged. Some of the topics covered are metamorphosis, honeybees, and ants. I know my class was wowed by the closeup images and couldn't wait to learn more about what they were looking at, making this a book they got out to read again & again.