From the author and illustrator who is well-known for The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle wrote a traditional story of change in the life cycle with his book The Tiny Seed, published in 1970. The story begins with a seed pod releasing all of its seeds into the air, with one especially tiny seed included. The reader follows that seed as it goes through icy mountains, oceans, and deserts, among many other challenges. The story comes full circle when, at the end, the seed grows into a flower that is bigger than any other flower, and it releases its seeds into the wind.
The illustrations in the story are very colorful and creative. Similar to the style of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle creates pictures for The Tiny Seed that are simple yet effective in telling the story. The pictures seem to be on the border between the abstract and realistic: they are fragmented and colored in a unique way and yet it is still very clear what they are. They seem to match how a child might illustrate the story, making it very approachable for young children.
Along with the wonderful illustrations, Eric Carle’s book conveys a story that is interesting and has many deeper meanings that children can understand at different stages in their life. On the surface, his story shows how a seed goes through its life and the many challenges it could face. Reading this story before a science lesson about seeds would be an easy way to introduce the topic and incorporate reading into science.
On a more literary level, a teacher could talk about how the seed appears to be at a disadvantage at the beginning because it is so small. In the end, however, it is one of the few seeds that actually survives all the challenges. Children could expand this to their own lives by seeing how you can’t judge a book by its cover and how everyone has some unique ability because of how they are made. The first time I was introduced to this book as a child, it was in regard to the process of change and the life cycle. I had just had a significant loss in my family, and my mom read this story to remind me that losing things is a part of life, and that this cycle continues with more life.
I was reminded of this story and inspired to write this blog post after recently reading another blog post from “A Year of Reading” about a new book called Little Tree. From what I understand, this story follows a tree who is unwilling to let go of its leaves when autumn approaches. It tells a lesson about change, and the blogger from “A Year of Reading” seemed to really enjoy the book. To check out what they said about it, click here, and bring together the tradition of the past with the new story of change by introducing children to both Little Tree and The Tiny Seed.
By: Mary Smith