Eric Carle recipient of
2003 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award (now called the Children’s Literature Legacy Award)

Eric Carle, best known for his picture books for young children, is the 2003 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award winner. His numerous picture books include The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Do You Want to Be My Friend?, The Tiny Seed, and From Head to Toe.

Administered by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award was first given to its namesake in 1954. The award, a bronze medal, 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.

The Award was announced in at the 2003 American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia along with the winner of John Newbery medal, Avi, author of Crispin; and the winner of Randolph Caldecott medal, Eric Rohmann, illustrator and author of My Friend Rabbit.

“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.”

Born in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1929, Carle moved with his parents to Germany in 1935. He came back to the United States in 1952, first working as a graphic designer. His work was noticed by Bill Martin, Jr., who invited Carle to illustrate his text for the still-popular picture book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? which launched his career in children’s picture books.

Between 1960 and 1980, the Wilder Award was given every five years. From 1980 to 2001, it was awarded every three years. Beginning in 2001, it has been awarded every two years.