Eric Carle was born in Syracuse, New York 1929. He then moved to Germany with his parents when he was six years old. He was educated in Germany and graduated from a prestigious art school, but always wanted to return to America. In 1952, his dream came true and Carle arrived in back in New York.
He later married Barbara Morrison and now has two grown children, a daughter Cirsten and a son Rolf. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and his cat, Annie.
Before Becoming an Author
When Eric Carle was fifteen years old and living in Germany with his family during the World War II, he was forced to dig trenches for the German Army.
After returning to America in 1952 with only forty dollars and his portfolio of work, Eric Carle found a job as a graphic designer in the promotion department of The New York Times. Later, he became the art director of an advertising agency for many years.
One day, author and educator, Bill Martin Jr. asked Eric Carle to illustrate one of his stories. They worked together to create Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? This is what inspired him to become a creator of books for children. He then began writing his own stories.
Eric Carle's Books
Eric Carle has over 40 books in print. His books are published in many different countries and in many different languages. More than 132 million copies of his different books have sold around the world.
He has won many awards including the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal in 2003. This award "honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children."
After winning the award, this is what was said of Eric Carle:
“Eric Carle’s visual observations of the natural world encourage the imagination and often mirror the larger changes in a young child’s development and experience,” said Wilder Award Committee Chair Ginny Moore Kruse, former director of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison’s School of Education. “His keen knowledge and genuine appreciation of nature undergird his vivid, often humorous, artwork, providing a deeply satisfying complexity.”
Eric Carle's Style
Carle's art work is created using a collage technique. He uses hand-painted paper which he then cuts and layers to form his image. Many of his books include added dimensions, such as die-cut pages, twinkling lights, or lifelike sounds to give them a playful and lifelike quality. The themes of his stories are usually drawn from his knowledge and love of nature. This is an interest he shares with many young children. His books provide ways for children to learn more about the world around them.
Quotes From Eric Carle
"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 that children are naturally creative and eager to learn. I want to show them that learning is really both fascinating and fun."
“We have eyes, and we're looking at stuff all the time, all day long. And I just think that whatever our eyes touch should be beautiful, tasteful, appealing, and important.”
“Ever since I was very young, as far back as I can remember, I have loved making pictures. I knew even as a child that, when I grew up, I would be an artist of some kind. The lovely feeling of my pencil touching paper, a crayon making a star shape in my sketchbook, or my brush dipping into bright and colorful paints — these things affect me as joyfully today as they did all those years ago.”
“They are deceptively simple. I admit that. But for me, all my life I try to simplify things. As a child in school, things were very hard for me to understand often, and I developed a knack, I think. I developed a process to simplify things so I would understand them."
"The hardest part is developing the idea, and that can take years."
Resources for Kids
Eric Carle's website provides coloring pages, games, and other printouts to go along with his different books. One printout allows students to match the animal word and the color word to different images from his book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Other printouts are dot to dot matching to create a picture, mazes, and much more.