Age Range: 2 to 6
We have so many spiders around and so many spiders’ webs to look at that my daughter decided that The Very Busy Spider was a good book to read so she could see how spiders make their webs. I love the simplicity and the repetition in this story and it has stimulated some interesting discussions.
The Story: The wind blows a spider into the farmyard where she lands on a fence post and starts to spin her web. Various animals ask her if she would like to join them in a range of activities but she is too busy to answer until the rooster asks her if she would like to catch a fly. By this time the spider has finished making her web so she catches the fly. When an owl admires her beautiful web she is already asleep.
We have the board book version of The Very Busy Spider which has a lovely, embossed spiders’ web that you can follow with your finger as she builds it. Each double page spread has a different animal on the left and the spider building her web on the right. It’s a great story for introducing different animals to toddlers and they can also find the ‘pesty fly’ which is on every animal page throughout the story. The repetitive text is good for a beginner reader and makes it easy for a non native English speaker to follow the story. I also think that it is a great story for showing children that hard work, patience and perseverance gets you to your goal.
I would definitely include The Very Busy Spider in a topic about insects or minibeasts. The story stimulated an interesting discussion about why a spider doesn’t get stuck to his / her web when other insects do. It was a question that I had never thought of so I learnt something new too! Apparently not all strands are sticky so the spider knows which ones to avoid (in his or her own web) but there does seem to be some dispute over the fact that a spider’s feet are coated in oil so they don’t stick to the silky strands (should any arachnologists be reading this post I would love to hear your opinion!).
Another great story from Eric Carle which can be used to stimulate learning.
Quote from Jessica (age 5): “Why doesn’t a spider get stuck on his web?”
Author / Illustrator: Eric Carle