Morals From The Very Hungry Caterpillar

6 Morals From The Very Hungry Caterpillar

What is the moral of the story The Very Hungry Caterpillar?

To help parents dive deep into the story, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, we asked avid readers and parents with young children this question for their best insights. From learning valuable information through a fun story to trusting the process, there are several morals that can be learned from this book.

Here are six morals from The Very Hungry Caterpillar:

  • Learn Valuable Information Through a Fun Story
  • Achieve Your Goals With Hard Work 
  • Understand Health and Well-Being
  • Experience Simple Truths
  • Accept Change
  • Trust the Process

Learn Valuable Information Through a Fun Story

Part of the reason kids and parents alike love The Very Hungry Caterpillar is because it’s an educational book that doesn’t feel like a capital E educational book. Children’s literature is traditionally a didactic type: “It teaches something,” says Martin, “but the best children’s books are taught without children knowing what they’re learning.” In The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” she adds, “You learn the days of the week. You learn the colors. You learn the fruits. You learn the names of junk food. And finally, you learn a little about nutrition: if you eat a whole bunch of junk food, you’re not going to feel that good.” However, it’s crucial that any valuable information presented isn’t felt “on your face,” Martin said.

In some ways, the ravenous caterpillar was typical of that era. In the late 1960s, “there was a lot of psychological training for teachers, from children’s fears to color perception; there was a lot to encourage young children to explore the world (safely).

Andy Ha, Clooms

Achieve Your Goals With Hard Work

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a children’s story about a caterpillar who eats his way through a variety of foods before finally transforming into a beautiful butterfly. The moral of the story is that with hard work and determination, we can achieve our goals. No matter how difficult they may seem at first, if we persevere we can overcome any obstacle and come out better and stronger on the other side.

Natalia Brzezinska, PhotoAiD

Understand Health and Well-Being 

This story helps children understand well-being and change as they develop. The caterpillar eats more each day until it’s physically ill from consumption. It recognized there was something wrong and it needs to eat something like a “nice leaf” to ultimately feel better. In doing so, the caterpillar built a cocoon and eventually grew into a butterfly. This teaches kids how important our health is and that our bodies are constantly changing.

Corey Ashton Walters, Here

Experience Simple Truths

The popular children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle doesn’t have a moral and doesn’t need one. Much of the media children consume in the modern era is tied to an invisible agenda; from advertisers to educators, political activists to preachers, everyone aiming content at kids has an underlying message they intend to impart.

The beauty of The Very Hungry Caterpillar is that it doesn’t aim to teach or convince the reader. The story is not a fable, it’s an art piece. The growth of the caterpillar is implicit in its increasing appetite until it reaches full size and begins a new journey as an adult. Similarly for children, growth is a thing that happens unconsciously as an aspect of their reality and it may be comforting to see that journey mirrored in nature. Adding in a moral about food consumption or transformation only muddies the simple truths reflected in this timeless tale.

Brandon Adcock, Nugenix

Accept Change

The Very Hungry Caterpillar shows that change is a part of life. The story paces itself well, revealing how the caterpillar goes through small changes little by little. He grows as he eats more and more each day, and then by the end of the story he transforms into a butterfly. This is how things in life generally evolve – Gradually over time.

Drew Sherman, Carvaygo

Trust the Process

Reading this to my nearly 2 year old little boy every night brings a whole new meaning to this book. At first I thought.. yeah, yeah, a caterpillar… eating… turning into a butterfly…yawn. But on my 10000th read it’s much more than that, especially as a mum running her own business. We can so often be distracted by all the other ‘butterflies’ out there- the fully established businesses, with all the shiny automations and glowing customer reviews. We want it… we want it SOOO badly… but growing a business is a process.

Much like the caterpillar – taking it a step at a time, adding to what works, listening to what their body needs and taking the leap to build the cocoon. That scary moment of darkness and waiting not truly knowing the outcome, then after much patience and preparation- a beautiful butterfly emerges with colors brighter than they could ever have imagined. That to me is the true very hungry caterpillar.

Katie McGuire, The EmpiHER

Terkel creates community-driven content featuring expert insights. Sign up at to answer questions and get published.