One book that I absolutely loved reading as a child was The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. In this children’s book it tells of a young and innocent caterpillar that is new to the world. This caterpillar develops a natural craving to food, and he decides to eat trough pieces of fruits on the first days of his life. He begins with eating one piece of fruit on the first day, two pieces of fruit on the second day, and so on. As the young caterpillar continues to grow it begins to experiment with other types of foods. This cause the caterpillar to become sick due to the fact of all the different types of food he consumed. Later on the caterpillar recovers and begins to spin himself into a cocoon, in which he would stay in for two weeks. After the two weeks ended the caterpillar came out as a beautiful butterfly.
I believe this book speaks to children in the way of relating how children actually live their life. A child possesses the craving for food, and the child knows they need food to survive. The form and content of the book show how the caterpillar has progressed over it’s early life. In the story you can see that the caterpillar faces different motivations and curiosities in life, just as that of a young child. One might think that the caterpillar’s actions of eating all the different kinds of fruit gives notion to how the caterpillar is trying to find out the ideas of the world. The cocoon that the caterpillar rested in could be seen as a half waypoint between childhood and adult. In the story it says that once the caterpillar broke out of the cocoon it became a beautiful butterfly with large gorgeous wings. At this point in the caterpillar’s life it can be seen it has grown into something that is almost magical. This thing that was once a small and minute knowing caterpillar has grown into something that possess life and knowledge from past experiences.
I believe this book does express the ideas of enlightenment that we discussed in class. In the book we can see this newly born caterpillar is almost senseless to it’s surroundings, and how the caterpillar has no idea of what to do but to follow what it believes needs to be done. Strasburger states, “Every aspect of the physical and social world is relatively new to a young child who is busy discovering what people are like, how plants grow, what animals eat, and where one neighborhood is located relative to another”, this idea expresses how a child must learn first hand what life is about. The caterpillar did what it thought needed to be done and that was eat food, but the most important notion that I want to make about how the caterpillar’s actions relate to children and the Enlightenment is it’s curiosity. Every child in this world is faced with the concept of curiosity, these children are unsure about what to do and think about everything in their early life hood.
In a different sense one might believe that a child must need some sort of a guiding hand in their voyage to determine what life actually is. The adolescence that is possessed in children forces them to act in a way with no knowledge of what is right and wrong. Locke states, “…when they are very young. It would be of great advantage, if they had people about them from their being first able to go, that had the skill, and would take the right way to do it,” this concept depicts the example of a parent teaching and leading a child into doing what they think is right. This forces a type of influence on a child to act differently than they probably would have acted if there were no person there to sway them. So, this means that if a child has no person to direct them then the child will take actions into their own hands and act in a way that they believe is right.
But who has the right to tell what one must do? In the end the one of youth will act as they please, and will make the decision to do what they want, disregarding all consequences that are associated with their actions. An example of this is a child not listening to their parents because they believe their parents are acting out of bad interest. I like the way the book is written because children can relate to it by discovering what they really want. The material that is presented in the book should be seen appropriate in the eyes of children. Children love the idea having something that they can understand and relate to easily. This book expresses images in a style that children can understand the plot of the story so that a thought can be place into the young person’s mind. Gray states, “Th’ unfeeling for his own. Yet ah! why should they know their fate? Since sorrow never comes too late, And happiness too swiftly flies. Thought would destroy their paradise,” which puts in place the idea of children making assumptions about what life has to offer. This also explains how children should experiment with how they go about with their life. Each person should have the opportunity to embark on unfamiliar grounds in their early life hood, and from this learn what is right and what is wrong. This causes the person to discover through trial and error a new ideology about the world. The style in which this is presented causes the child to incorporate how life can be thought of growing into something beautiful such as that of an exquisite butterfly.