Appreciating the Incredible Legacy of Eric Carle

Appreciating the Incredible Legacy of Eric Carle

Appreciating the Incredible Legacy of Eric Carle

When lots of people think back on their childhood, many of the books they read often come to mind. There are certain stories that have been a part of people’s youth for generations, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of them. Written by Eric Carle and originally published in 1969, the book tells the story of a caterpillar who is going through the process of becoming a butterfly. Since its release, the book has gone on to sell nearly 50 million copies, and it’s touched even more hearts. That being said, people all over the world were saddened to hear that the creative mind behind the story, Eric Carle, passed away on May 23, 2021. Although Eric may be gone, his memory will live on forever in all of his work. Keep reading to learn more about Eric Carle’s legacy.

Eric Carle’s Journey

Eric was born in New York, but moved to his mother’s home country, Germany, as a child. When he was younger, Eric often found himself getting in trouble at school. However, he showed a knack for drawing at an early age and it became a positive outlet for him. When he was just 15-years-old, during World War II, the German government forced him to assist with digging trenches along the Siegfried Line.

He eventually returned to the United States as an adult and got a job working as a graphic designer. Little did he know, this job would eventually lead him to the world of children’s books. His career began with him illustrating children’s books for other authors, and he eventually decided that he wanted to get into writing, too.

Over the course of his career, he went on to release more than 70 books. Among his best-known works are The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me, and The Very Quiet Cricket. His work has been translated into nearly 70 languages.

Through his books, Eric was able to entertain and educate countless young people. When describing the purpose for his work, Eric said,

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. Will it be a happy place? There are new people, a teacher, classmates—will they be friendly?

I believe the passage from home to school is the second biggest trauma of childhood; the first is, of course, being born. Indeed, in both cases we leave a place of warmth and protection for one that is unknown. 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.”

Eric’s Museum

Outside of his career, he also had a huge impact on those closest to him. He was happily married until his wife’s, Barbara, passing in 2015. The couple had two children together. In 2002, he and his wife opened a museum in Massachusetts called the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. The goal of the museum “is to inspire a love of art and reading through picture books.” In addition to featuring works of art by Eric, the museum has also featured exhibits from other picture book artists.

According to the Watauga Democrat, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is fully endowed so Eric’s fans can rest assured that it will be around for many years to come.

Remembering Eric Carle

Eric passed away on May 23, 2021, at his home in Massachusetts after suffering from kidney failure. He was 91-years-old. When news of his death began to spread across the internet, people from all over chimed in to reflect on what his work meant to them. Fellow children’s book author Emily Gravett told The Guardian, “I think that, in common with thousands of children worldwide, The Very Hungry Caterpillar was the first book I fell in love with. A world of book lovers. Could there be a better legacy to leave the world than that?” As of yet, it doesn’t appear that anyone from Carle’s family has released a statement.

Thanks to his contributions to literature, I think it’s safe to say that Eric will never be forgotten. For years to come, generations of young readers will be learning about The Very Hungry Caterpillar and the rest of the interesting characters Eric created during his lifetime.

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