The current trend in picture books is to force lessons on children and parents, so this week we look at a classic and discuss the subtle ways a well written story shares information in a fun creative manner.

As Hermit Crab steps out of his shell, something hermit crabs have to do as they grow, he finds a new shell he wants to decorate. He does this by adding living creatures to his new home. He nicely asks each one if they would like to join him. We learn about many creatures that live in the sea as we follow Hermit Crab through the year. When he grows too large for his new home - now decorated and surrounded by all his friends - he leaves it to a young crab who promises to care for everyone. Though he'll miss his old friends, he moves out into the world excited and wondering who he'll meet next.

Children I've read this story to ask lots of questions. They can't wait to learn more about all the sea life mentioned in the book. They identify with making new friends and caring for them. And understand we've gone through a whole year. They grow a lot in a year, too.

For those who are art minded (and I don't know many children who aren't) showing children how you can paint your favorite colors on paper and then cut shapes out of that paper to make your own story just like Eric Carle did is a joy.

Is it a book that preaches differences? Nope. But every creature in it is different. Does this story preach kindness? Nope. But it shows kindness throughout. Does it lecture on how to deal with changes and emotions? Nope. It simply shows how we all grow and change.

Usually a book is a classic for a reason!

For children 2 - 5 years and is a great early reader, too.

Find it here...