First The Egg

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First the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger is a book that I was introduced to in a class this spring. Published in 2007, this is not a new book, but it was new to me!

a summary… in brief

As the writer and illustrator of this short and visually beautiful, award-winning picture book, Seeger communicates her message about change, transformation, and life in 26 carefully planned pages. With clear, repetitive language, Seeger shows young readers how various animals, plants and objects evolve with a simple beginning, middle, end structure. In the case of the egg, for example, on one page we see the words “the EGG” with an illustration of an egg, on the next page, the word “then” with an illustration of a chick, and on the third page, the words “the CHICKEN” with the illustration of a grown chicken. This pattern of showing three stages of development continues throughout the book. The extra special feature of this book is the way in which the illustrations depict this notion of evolution and change. The illustrations are cut-outs that physically show the related changes from one stage of development to the next. Kids love discovering this!

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As a parent… what an appropriate way to talk to our kids about change! In this regards, the book really spans so many ages. While on the surface it seems most appropriate for our preschool children, I can see many instances in which this book would be a beautiful one to share with early elementary school children as well. With our youngest kids, it’s a chance to talk about changes in a very literal way. Preschoolers are so interested in how they are big they are and how they will grow and get bigger. This book is a way to help our young children consider how other creatures and objects grow and evolve. For our slightly older children, we can consider more complex notions of change (i.e., life / death, changing schools – preschool to elementary school) yet make them understood through the lens of the concrete examples of change in this beautiful book.

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As a teacher… I can imagine using this book in so many contexts. It is really a small book that packs a big punch. It won’t require much time to read but will offer plentiful opportunities for learning and discussing. It might be used:

  • At the beginning of the year to introduce the ways we can evolve and change as learners, friends, and community members
  • At the end of the year to reflect on our change and growth as learners, friends, and community members.
  • To introduce to simple sequencing, “first, next, then…”
  • To develop sight word knowledge of simple sequencing words
  • To teach the strategy for using pattern and illustration to support decoding
  • To teach or explore main idea – what is this book mostly about and how does the author communicate that?
  • To explore the role of illustration

Laura Vacarro Seeger has written numerous picture books and won several awards for her work, including two Caldecott Honors and two Theodor Seuss Geisel Honors. To learn more about her, her books, and how she does her work, check out her website:

Happy Reading!


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