“Again!” is the word I most often heard after reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle to my children. It is a word many parents hear when they read Mr. Carle’s books out loud. Now children of all ages can see Mr. Carle’s vibrant illustrations, as well as many other illustrators’ colorful works, at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts.

For more than two centuries, illustrations have excited children about books and reading. A family outing to a museum or gallery that exhibits original illustrations from familiar books will not only spur kids to read more, it will introduce them to the world of art. Seeing illustrations up close, and seeing how illustrations are made, will inspire young people to use their imaginations to create their own art.

Located on the Hampshire College campus, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is a museum that entertains and educates. It is the first full-scale museum in the United States devoted to international picture book art with the aim of “celebrating the art that we are first exposed to as children and that we carry with us throughout our lives.” Along with ever refreshed exhibits of Mr. Carle’s work, the museum features special exhibits of world renowned illustrators. It offers classes and workshops for children and their families, as well as professional workshops for teachers and librarians. The museum website, PictureBookArt.org, is a wonderful children’s literature and literacy resource center for parents and teachers.

Once, a child wrote informing Eric Carle that he was a “good picture writer.” Reacting to the child’s observation, Mr. Carle commented, “I would like to be remembered as a picture writer and as someone who has opened a door for children to the world of pictures and words.”

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art does indeed open a door for children to the world of pictures and words. It wouldn’t surprise me if the first word your child says after visiting Mr. Carle’s museum is “Again!”

For special exhibit dates, directions, hours of operation, and other information about the museum, visit PictureBookArt.org.

Additional Field Trip Ideas

Check your local libraries and art museums; they often exhibit the work of book illustrators. The following museums, galleries, and websites offer ongoing and special exhibits of children’s book art.

© 2015 The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance