Thursday, August 19, 2010

Harry the Happy Caterpillar Grows: Helping Children Adjust to Change (Book Review)

Back to school! This is the time of year when most kids encounter plenty of change. They might be starting school for the first time, going to a new school or, at the very least, encountering a new teacher and classmates. Along with that change often comes fear. Will I like it there? What if I don’t have any friends? Will the work be too hard?

One way to help kids adjust to change is to read books with them that have characters who also encounter new situations. One book that does an excellent job of this is Harry the Happy Caterpillar Grows, by Cindy Jett, MSW (New Horizon Press, 2010). In this book, adorably illustrated by Kathy Voerg, Harry the Caterpillar loves his life, which consists of Caterpillar Games with his friends and caterpillar school! But one day, his teacher (a butterfly) shares a lesson called “How to Build a Chrysalis.” Harry realizes that his life is about to change -- and drastically!

All of Harry’s friends are excited about becoming butterflies, but not Harry. He’s afraid to fly and will miss playing in the Caterpillar Games. As his friends all prepare their chrysalises, Harry refuses to build his own. But even though Harry tries to make everything stay the same, it changes nonetheless. New caterpillars show up at school and the Caterpillar Games. And Harry’s friends become butterflies!

After a heart-warming discussion with his teacher, Harry decides to face his fears and begin to work on his own chrysalis. He’s still afraid, but he focuses on the things he discussed with his teacher, and perseveres. Finally, Harry goes into his chrysalis and emerges two weeks later as a butterfly! His happy friends show him how to fly and drink nectar. And they even come up with the idea of having Butterfly Games! Harry finally realizes that change can be great!

At the end of the book, the author includes Tips for Children (i.e., Remember that sad or scary feelings do not last forever) and Tips for Parents and Guardians (i.e., Encourage the child to talk to you and others who will be supportive about the feelings he or she is experiencing). My twins really enjoyed this book, and it was a wonderful way to initiate a discussion about their fears of starting first grade. The boys could relate to Harry’s fears of growing up and losing his friends. And they could use Harry’s techniques for handling fear, such as focusing on the positive aspects of a new situation. I highly recommend Harry the Happy Caterpillar Grows!


DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of this book to facilitate this review. No other compensation was provided. As an Amazon affiliate, I receive a small commission on sales made through the Amazon link at left.


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