Sunday Book Club: Life by Cynthia Rylant

We love books about “the big picture”. Books that ask us to take a step back and appreciate what we have. This is an important concept to introduce to children. It helps build resiliency early and is one of the building blocks of Montessori Peace Education.

Life by Cynthia Rylant is a gorgeous new book that speaks to us all starting out small, and that it won’t always be easy but we will all grow. 

The artwork is what drew me originally to the book. It’s understated but full of colour. 


This is one for every Montessori home and classroom. Younger children will enjoy identifying animals and older children will be able to use it as a jumping off point for empathy and resilience discussions which are so incredibly important starting in the 3-6 age group and continuing right through to adulthood. 

We have absolutely love it. 

Sunday Book Club Summer Edition Part 1: Books, activities and more

We love Summer and all that it has to offer.

With school over, the boys and I have been spending lots of time outside. We always take a Montessori approach to home learning, which simply means that we “follow the child”. So although there is always an opportunity to foster curiosity we don’t advocate for structured, academic summer home learning. 

However, we do love finding new and interesting activities and books that help spark that curiosity. Quentin has been interested in pond life and so with that in mind here are some of our favourite fiction books for 3-6 about the topic. 


Over and Under the Pond is absolutely excellent for exploring a pond biome and life cycles. It’s perfect for introducing these concepts to children 3 and 4 or opening up larger discussions for the 5’s and 6’s. 
Pool is beautifully drawn, imaginative and above all completely wordless. We love the picture story’s ability to suck a child into the story teller role. It’s so interesting the differences in descriptions and abstract depth that come when you read this book in a mixed age setting and ask them to read it to you. 
Beyond the Pond is such a favourite that we’ve featured it before. Intended for children who are in the Second Plane, we began reading this when Quentin was 4 because of the richness of the text. If you want to introduce words such as “extraordinary” and “raucous” into your child’s vocabulary, sit down with this book. 
In the Red Canoe is the story of a Grandfather and Granddaughter gently paddling around a lake, taking in the wildlife, told through the eyes of the child. It’s gorgeously illustrated and a soothing read at the end of the day. 

The lily pads are in full bloom at our local freshwater pond. We often take art supplies with us in a backpack as well as some snacks and a blanket to make a day of it. 


Watercolours are so easy to bring outside. They dry quickly, clean up easily and are just so pretty and delicate. 

I love having little ideas ready in case Quentin asks for Art, or is looking for a new game, or has an interest in a specific nature theme. Allyson of Tanglewood Hollow produces some of the best Montessori compatible Nature Study themed materials out there. She has recently opened a printables shop here. I’m absolutely thrilled as now I can get her materials and immediately download them to take with us or display in our Montessori workspace.

Last but not least a Giveaway 

Summer Giveaway 
The Summer Curriculum found here, is “a guide of 26 pages filled with summer songs and poems, art exploration, garden activities and games, science exploration, reading, and more! Make a nature weaving, do some garden yoga, race invertebrates, and build a terrarium!” 

Stay tuned Monday July 10th on our Instagram feed found here as we are thrilled to giveaway one professionally printed copy of the Summer Curriculum for you to use to help create all that “awe and wonder” that we as Montessorians are so passionate about. 

We hope that you are having a relaxing, exciting and memory making Summer. 

Sunday Book Club: Our favourite books Birth – 2.5 years old

Language is the first gift we gift our children. We speak and sing and read to our children at a surprisingly early age in Montessori: At eighteen weeks after conception when an unborn child begins to hear. 

Our list of books for children under two may surprise you, but if you have been following along for awhile it likely won’t. 

Here’s the possible surprise. I don’t read infant books to infants. In fact I actually really detest them. Yes, there are certainly some nice ones out there. Global Babies seems to be popular especially within the Montessori Social Media world, but it’s stereotypical dressing of children from different cultures is disappointing. Not all children from Asia or Africa or Europe or any of the continents dress in traditional garments. The text is also fairly lacking. 

So what do we do instead? We read language rich books. Right from the beginning. 

Here are our favourites. 

Sounds Around Town was one of Quentin’s very first books. It is full of such rich language, a multicultural setting without specifically touching on it and interesting artwork. 


Red Rubber Boot Day was given to us 15 years ago for our oldest son’s second birthday. He loved it so much because it features a boy doing similar things he liked to do. The artwork is stunning and so is the language 


I am leaf. I am fish. I swim by Mr. Humphrey who lives next door, standing in his yard with no shoes on. And Mr. Humphrey says to me, “It’s a fine thing, feeling wet grass, on bare feet, in green rain.” 

Just phenomenal. 

Journey Home from Grandpa’s was another first book of Quentin’s. We must have read this over 100 times. Again the repetitive text is not dull like other toddler focused books. It is instead richly descriptive. 


Alfie Gets in First is only one of the most amazing series of books by Shirley Hughes. It is our absolute favourite Montessori compatible children’s book series for 0-6. 

When Mama Comes Home Tonight was another of Anthony’s favourites. There aren’t many great books that speak to a Mother’s role outside the home and what they do when they get home. We love the kind and loving images. 

Good Night Moon needs no introduction. It has been a favourite since 1947. It also has soft and flowing text that is perfect for a toddler bedtime or rocking an infant while feeding them. 

Books express so much about who we are and what we hold dear. When reading with a child at any age, choose a quiet time of the day, a comfortable spot in your home and relax. 

Start early. A child begins learning language while still in the womb, but it is also never too late.  Finding time each day to share a book with a child will have lasting neurological and social effects.  Not only on the child but also the adult. 

Sunday Book Club: Outside your window: A first book of nature

We love nature themed books and this one is absolutely stunning. 


Broken down into the four seasons, it’s the artwork that first drew me in. Stunning collages accompany songs, stories, recipes and so much more. 


Each pages collage is beautiful and perfectly captures the mood of th season it describes. 



With so many ideas to try and stories to share it is sure to be a favourite for years to come. 

Sunday Book Club: This is how we do it

Peace Education is the centre of the Montessori pedagogy. It is essentially the heart of it. 

This week’s book is absolutely fantastic for teaching that although we are all slightly different, for the most part we are all very much the same. 
This book is excellent because it has what I struggle to find: realistic illustrations of children all over the world without the stereotypes of dress or religion found in other books. It also doesn’t contain children from North America which so many books focus on. 





The pages are beautiful, interesting and best of all, offer opportunities for vocabulary building and further discussion. The story follows each child from breakfast, through the day and the reader and child can easily make connections between what the person in the book is doing with what they do each day. 

Peace Education seems to be all the more important in today’s world. Finding ways to connect with others even if you aren’t exactly the same is a common goal we all can share. 

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.