The Caillou character was created in 1989, as a nine-month-old baby without a single hair on his head. He owes his popularity to the combined talents of author and publisher Christine L’Heureux and illustrator Hélène Desputeaux.
Christine L’Heureux was the original instigator behind Caillou. To carry out this project, she felt it was necessary to create and bring to life to a character that was human. By doing so, children would naturally identify with Caillou and thus form a stronger emotional bond with him.
By choosing to focus on a human character, Chouette Publishing was going against tradition. Indeed, before Caillou, most book series intended for young children featured animal characters.
The Caillou books were inspired by the work of French psychoanalyst Dr. Françoise Dolto (1908-1988). Recognized worldwide for her studies on child development, Dr. Dolto succeeded in making her theories accessible to the general public. Her solutions all revolve around a single fundamental premise: respect for the child, as a person.
As adults, we have a tendency to believe that things come easily for children, but just like we do, children also get their share of pain and difficulties to overcome. It was by listening to what children said, by receiving those words without ever judging them, that Françoise Dolto was able to identify and recognize such instances of pain, thus humanizing them.
Pain does not simply go away when identified or named, but by verbalizing it, there is a greater chance that it will no longer hinder a child’s development. The child can thus feel more joyful again, and his or her quality of life will be considerably improved.
The Caillou books were meant to serve as intermediaries between children and their parents or other adults who play a significant role in their lives – for example, grandparents, teachers, day care workers, or preschool teachers. Every Caillou book is designed to encourage communication between children and adults and to help youngsters grow in harmony with themselves and the world around them, giving children much-needed opportunities to discuss their emotions.
The Caillou books are designed to contribute to the harmonious growth of children throughout the different stages of their development. Caillou faithfully accompanies his little friends in their discovery of the world and life, from birth to the beginning of school.