Sunday Book Club: Author & Illustrator Julie Morstad

We absolutely love the illustrations and works of Julie Morstad. Her books are perfect for Montessori families because the illustrations are clear, reality based and beautiful. 


How To Is perfect for toddlers and some 3-4 year olds. Simple parts of a child’s day are explained with whimsy. 

Sometimes We Think You Are a Monkey is a loving story told by parents to their new baby. Toddlers will love acting out the different animal movements. Quentin at almost 5 years old loved this book for the animals and the ability to read it independently. 

Julia, Child is by far our favourite. We first featured this book here.
“The truth is adults often need a some extra help. Baffled and befuddled, mindless and muddled, they sometimes forget what they know.” 

How so very true

Quentin loves the story of a child who grew to love cooking and helped adults “overcome their feelings of never-enoughness.” 


Swan: The life and dance of Anna Pavlova is excellent for children 6 and up. It’s a beautiful story of a little girl falling in love with ballet and her life there after. Quentin was very interested in the timeline aspect of this book and it’s historical references. 

When Green Becomes Tomatoes This has fast become our favourite book of poems for children. Simple poems that begin March 20th and follow the year through the seasons without touching on any specific holidays. 

Think Again. “Make sure that your heart Isn’t too well-defended. Your heart is designed To be broken and mended”. Such an important message. 

Another book of poems we are in love with and Julie’s gorgeous drawings. This one is for the older child (9-12) but Quentin enjoyed it anyway. It was perfect as a family read aloud book. 

Beyond the Laughing Sky is a true masterpiece of young adult fiction. I read this one myself and enjoyed it immensely. It would be perfect for the 9-12 year old independent reader or as a bedtime chapter book for a 6-9 year old. 
So many beautifully illustrated and written books and we haven’t even listed most of her work. If you haven’t had a chance to read some Julie Morstad we would definitely recommend it. 

Sunday Book Club: Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt

Spring is just around the corner for so many of us that here, we have had the garden on our minds. 
We love this book. It is perfect for connecting to what’s going on in our own garden behind the scenes. 


The illustration style is one of my favourites. Simple, clean and clear and yet with a bit of whimsy all done in a soft colour pallet. Each page offers the child so many things to discover. 


Children love to watch things grow. If you’ve never considered growing vegetables before why not try this year? Many of the veggies shown in this book can be started as seed on a window ledge and Montessori children love Care of the Environment activities like misting tiny seedlings. 

Sunday Book Club: Good Morning City


We love children’s books that offer a glimpse into the everyday routine of a child. Our favourites are ones that also offer ethnically and culturally diverse pictures. Good Morning City does this beautifully. 


The illustrations are fantastic and the story takes the reader through the routines of people starting their day. From baker kneading the first dough of the morning to the ferry boat captain starting their rounds to older children climbing onto the school bus, Quentin loved scanning the  pictures and getting a sense of other people’s morning routines. 

 

This book is perfect for children as young as two but will also suit a child as old as six and is an excellent addition to a home regardless of what your morning routine is. 

Sunday Book Club: The Journey

Continuing with our theme of knowledge, understanding and tolerance from last week, The Journey was recommended to us by our friend and passionate Montessori teacher Ashley Speed of Diamond Montessori

It is a story of a family forced to leave everything behind, a mother’s courage and bravery guiding her children through an often scary unknown and ultimately it is a story of hope. 

Told from a child’s perspective, the beautiful modern images open up further discussion while reading. It is a great read for a child 6 and up or anyone looking to get a small glimpse into the struggles of refugee families. 

Sunday Book Club: Sometimes I feel like a Fox

The Montessori 3-6 Prepared Environment has a large component focused on Culture. 

This section of the environment encompasses many things but it’s aim is to slowly and gently introduce the child to the world around them. This is the very first step of Montessori Peace Education. 


This week’s book (which can be found here) is awesome in many ways. It showcases 12 animals and their characteristics. It acts as a tool for adults working with children to  create mindfulness and open ended discussions about how these descriptions relate to them. It can also be use in dramatic games for children to act out each of the characteristics of the animals. 

However most importantly (and this is where the Montessori Culture aspect ties in) it exposes children to another people’s culture. Each of the animals described by young people in the book, is a totem animal or “doodem” in the Anishinaabe First Nations tradition. 

The author’s note explains the importance of totem animals in the Anishinaabe culture and how they can act as guides for young children. 

The importance of differences and ultimately our similarities between our cultures and our communities has always been strong. However perhaps it is even more important in today’s world. 

If you are looking for books that speak to tolerance, understanding and knowledge there are many excellent ones for children. Speak to your local librarian, teacher or bookshop owner for ideas. 

Sunday Book Club: Atlas of Adventure 

With the holidays finished we are back into our normal rhythms. That of course, means it’s Book Club time and this week’s books are gorgeous must haves for any Montessori home’s Non-Fiction Research/Reference section. 



The first book found here is absolutely stunning. It’s done in a completely different way then I have seen before and covers everything in its two page spreads from tigers in the Siberian snow, to humpback whales off the coast of Chile. 

The pictures are modern, clean lined and yet have so much detail. We are absolutely in love. 

The second, companion activity book found here is equally gorgeous. Sectioned into the continents it is a perfect at home workbook for any geography lover. So much to colour on each page and a large wall map and stickers are included. 

We purchased these books for a young Montessori friend’s 4th birthday, however on seeing their beauty and the ability to use them over the years with Quentin, I decided to order copies for our own reference materials shelf. 

Like anything else in our minimalist home featured here, we choose books extremely mindfully especially when purchasing them. Here are some of our “rules” for purchasing non-fiction books that fit with both a minimalist lifestyle but also (and much more importantly) a Montessori lifestyle: 

  • Books must be reality and science based
  • Books must be able to hold a child’s interest today, tomorrow and next year
  • Purchase a small range without duplicating a subject. We don’t need 20 penguin books. A really good one will last years and we can supplement the rest from the public library, although really we shouldn’t need to. 

Books about the world around us are some of the most important you can share with a child. A child is never too young to be exposed to that world. 

Book Club Year End: Best Fiction 2016

The first Day of the new year is the perfect time to reflect on the year past. It was an amazing one for children’s literature and it was extremely hard narrowing down our favourites. 

A note to anyone new joining us, we only review books we have actually read cover to cover and enjoy having in our home. These are books we truly have loved and not simply seen on another “best of” list. 
When we finally came to a decision, these were our favourites of 2016:

Sleep Tight Farm is my favourite on this list. It is everything I look for in a children’s book. Beautiful simple pictures that fit the rhythm of the story, which is in this case, the simple act of slowing down and bundling up for Winter. A gorgeous book that fit in perfectly to our family’s Solstice celebration, this book is suitable from 2 years old and up and would be loved by any budding farmer or family looking to capture the spirit of the season. 

The Wish Tree follows a day in the life of Charles a boy looking to find the tree and tie a wish to its branches but ends up being delayed along the way. It is a book of Grace and Courtesy and it’s author is one of our favourites whose other works can be found here

A Child of Books is so simple and yet so stunning. The artwork is the masterpiece here. If you haven’t read it, you must go and find a copy. We feel it fits so well with the Montessori philosophy, and it’s message is for both young and old alike. 
The Darkest Dark was a Solstice gift for Quentin this year and combines our family’s love of science, space and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. It’s about a boy overcoming his fear and following his dreams. Perfect for any parent and child who have struggled through the bedtime routine. 
If you are looking to add some Montessori friendly fiction to your child’s bookshelf, here are our tips:

  • Reality based over fantasy for under 6. Children under six are still making sense of the world. They crave real experiences and being exposed to books they can relate to is incredibly important for normal social and neurological development. 
  • Look for descriptive language. Rhythm, rhymes and rich language build a child’s language bank. If you want them to have a large bank of vocabulary, they must first be exposed to it. 
  • Awe and Wonder. Just like in our Non Fiction post, these two words are the most important when looking for materials to fill your Montessori space. A book should grab a child and suck them in. It should feed not only their mind, but their soul.