Back to School with Montessori: 2021 Book List

It’s that time of year again, the summer is coming to an end and even though this coming school year will once again look different for so many of us, the underlying themes for kids are still there. New routines, new people, and leaving loved ones.

Over the years I’ve written a few different posts about how to incorporate some helpful tips on making the transition to school easier for children. You can read some of them here and another one here. Below are some new and old favourites on our bookshelves at this time of year to help children know what to expect at school.

Jack Goes to Montessori School will always be my most recommended and favourite book to give to new Montessori students. A gentle telling of the routine in a 3-6 classroom, children will easily recognize the materials and flow of the child led day.

If you haven’t seen the Lola series it’s a must for preschool kids! This entire series has been a favourite in my 3-6 classrooms for years because it is so relatable. This book is perfect for any child starting school not just in a Montessori setting but my Montessori students love it too because it focuses on the rhythmic flow of the day which is so important for young children who can’t tell time. Establishing the rhythm and then going over it with your child will help them know what’s coming next at school and after which activity you will come to get them. This helps them feel much more confident at school and safe in the knowledge that you will be there at the same time every day.

This is another old favourite for us. It has everything I love in a book; engaging illustrations, diverse characters and repetitive text. Perfect for the preschool crowd. I wrote a review of it four years ago and we still love it to this day! You can read that post here.

This one is brand new for us and we already love it! A sequel of sorts to the previous book and just as perfect. Focused on a group of children outdoors playing it touches on topics of disagreements and different feelings. Empathy is one of the most important things we can help bring out in children. This book is perfect for bringing up discussions on feelings, how to work through problems and acknowledging others emotions.

It’s been a lifetime since this first day of school picture was taken of Quentin. He begins Upper Elementary this year and although he’s had many years of returning to school, the principles listed in these back to school posts are still very much used to help him gently and smoothly find his way back into the classroom.

Montessori Sunday Bookclub: Our new book

This has been in the works for quite awhile and I’m excited to finally be able to say it’s almost here! If you follow us on Instagram you will likely have already seen some sneak peeks of the inside but I really wanted to give you a bit more of an in-depth tour here.

I often get asked to write Montessori related content in books and other media but I’ve never before loved the intention behind it. Maria Montessori designed a way of fostering a child’s natural development that was meant to focus on the child’s own unique interests and abilities. I really wanted to showcase how as a multi level trained Montessori teacher I use the Montessori pedagogy in my classrooms. I also wanted to showcase how I’ve used my Montessori training to create a Montessori home with our two boys. A simple and easy to use recipe book that one could grab, flip through and easily set up ideas without the need to buy expensive or excessive materials.

It was also extremely important to me that some of my most cherished facts about child development and a deeper dive into the pedagogy as a whole could be included but that it would be easy to understand and implement. I’m so happy with how it turned out.

The book begins with some Montessori information specific to toddlers. As I mention in the pages, toddlerhood can be a tricky time. Not quite the independence of a preschooler but definitely not a baby anymore!

Once some key ideas about Montessori and toddlerhood are down, the next section is for the activities! I’ve broken the activities into 5 categories: Motor Skills, Art, Practical Life, Sensorial and Language.

I’ve arranged them in sequential order just like you’d find in a classroom environment from youngest to oldest. The index at the back of the book helps break down activities in age groups from 1 to 3 year olds and so it’s my hope that anyone using the book can quickly and easily find inspiration that’s age appropriate for their child.

Each of the activities in all of the 5 categories are set up in an easy to implement way. The list of materials is short and each step is laid out including what skill the activity strengthens in the child and ways you can alter the activity to better fit the needs of the child doing it.

Pre-orders are already open around the world (and can be found here). I’m so thankful for everyone’s love and support through this amazing process. I’ve loved sharing the little snippets that have made up Our Montessori Life over all these years.

Montessori Book Club: I am a Peaceful Goldfish

It’s seems like it’s been a year of taking deep breaths! We’ve been working to carve out even more mindfulness moments in each day both in self are for ourselves and also ensuring that both in the classroom and at home, our kids have the tools to find their calm.

Right from the end pages I love this book. The children’s faces made me smile simply because they are so relatable.

The illustrations are perfect for the intended age range of 2-6 and there’s an interesting little cat in each scene that invites lots of projecting and open ended conversations such as “What do you think that cat is planning?!”

The easy to follow message on each page invites children to try each of the actions of the different breathing exercises and that all of those actions are perfect for circle times or places where you are sitting with a child. No getting up and having to move around, just focusing on the different breathing techniques.

In the end everyone is ready to try again and that’s a great message too: That waiting and taking your time doesn’t mean that you give up, just that you need a break.

I am a Peaceful Goldfish releases on April 13th and will be one to have on hand to help children build emotional regulation especially in these uncertain times.

Montessori Book Club: A Boy like You

Quentin carried this into the bedroom in the early hours this morning and asked if I would read it to him.

It’s a book I took out of the school library to celebrate his birthday with back in April but I thought it was pretty timely he chose it today.

It has all the messages we want him and all other children but especially masculine of center presenting children to be told over and over again.

“There’s so much more than sports.” This one in particular has to be driven home time and time again in our house with a ballet loving boy.

Having books on your bookshelves whether at home or in the classroom featuring Black folks and other People of Colour is an incredibly important first step. However there is still a long way to go towards being anti-racist. Having regular age appropriate conversations with children about race is an ongoing work that involves many steps.

If you find it hard to know where to start, simply search “diverse children’s books” or “conversations about race with children”. Seek out leaders in Anti Biased Anti Racist education and listen without asking for resources or time from them. They are already doing the work. It’s your turn to get involved.

Listening and learning go a long way to furthering the Prepared Adult and thus the Prepared Environment.

Montessori Book Club: Books for Spring

It’s been a quiet few weeks for us here. We, like the vast majority of the world are together, safe at home, watching and waiting to see what will come. But it is also Spring.

Spring for our family has so much to celebrate. The end of the rainy season, our wedding anniversary, and Quentin’s birthday. It’s a time we look forward and make plans and that’s all changed a little bit with this new “normal” around the world.

So, to capture some of the feelings we and our children may be experiencing, I wanted to showcase this beautiful new book sent over from Grey Stone Kids.

It’s a beautiful, simple and easily relatable story of a parent tree, covered in seeds who are small and silent but will one day be big trees of their own.

It touches on the feelings of worry we as parents and caregivers have about the children we love. Will they be okay? Am I protecting them enough, and above all, maybe I could keep them little for just a little bit longer.

It shows us that we can care for them and love them and even fuss needlessly over them, but one day they will grow up and that our confidence in them and their abilities will be one of the defining factors in their own self confidence.

“Stay Little Seed” releases on April 7 just as gardens are warming and trees are waking up here.

Montessori Book Club: Solstice Books 2019

This new book has quickly become a favourite. We have paired it with our nature based crafts, baking and slow living days curled up next to the fire under a cosy blanket.

Of course we love Carson Ellis artwork and this new book is no exception. The muted tones are perfect for Winter Solstice.

It tells a simple story of the history of the Winter Solstice, one that is easy for the youngest for readers to understand. It also connects the traditions of the past, with the traditions found in other celebrations like Christmas.

There are so few good Yule books out there for kids and we couldn’t be more please with this one. I’ll post our December bookshelf in its entirety on our Instagram page, later this week.

Montessori Book Club: Birdsong

The seasons are changing here. Autumn is definitely fleeting and Winter has crept in. It is the perfect time for family and friends and reflection.

This new book Birdsong from Greystone Books is a beautiful story of a child that moves to their new home with their mother and meets their new neighbour, an elderly woman who loves nature and art as much as they do.

It highlights each season beginning with their arrival at the new house and how things are different.

We loved how the complexity of the intergenerational friendship is highlighted but in a gentle way focusing on how the child must navigate this and ultimately finds a connection with their elderly neighbour in art.

We absolutely love this book and were thrilled that it made the Globe and Mail’s “100 Books of 2019”! If you are looking for a beautiful “own voices” story this will definitely be a favourite for years to come.

Montessori Book Club: Maybe – The story about the endless potential in all of us

Have you ever had a children’s book speak to you deeply? One where the illustrations and message grab you and immediately you want to put that book into the hands of everyone you know?

That’s this book for us.

The first time I saw the cover I immediately knew it was that type of book and so when Compendium offered to send one I over I was thrilled.

“Your life is yours” it begins. If that was all of the message, mixed with the illustrations that would be enough for me to love it forever, but there was more.

“Wherever you go, take your hopes, pack your dreams and never forget – it is on journeys that discoveries are made”.

“Do everything with love. Follow your heart and see where it leads you.”

“Maybe you will speak up for those who can’t speak up for themselves.”

And of course because this book melds so seamlessly with the Montessori pedagogy it saves its most sage wisdom for last:

“You already have everything it takes to do big things.”

This book belongs in the hands of every child and most likely a great many adults.

This the perfect gift for new babies, children facing life changes and should be on every Montessori school’s bookshelf’s under the category of Peace Education.

Montessori Book Club: Winter Sleep – A hibernation Story

We are settling into the cosy days of Autumn here. The leaves have begun changing colour, the air is a little cooler and the sun a little more golden.

I am always on the lookout for brand new Montessori compatible nature books and so when Winter Sleep – A Hibernation Story came out last week I knew I had to grab it!

It’s the sweet story of a child who visits their grandmother’s home in the summer and loves exploring nature.

The illustrations are beautiful and whimsical but also extremely detailed.

The child returns in winter and asks to see the glade where they sat in summer, but is worried when it’s covered in snow. Where are all the flowers and the animals?

What I really love about this book is the information pages at the back.

There’s so much information on how different animals survive the coldest months of the year.

There’s also a section at the end on how people can help animals through the winter.

This is such a perfect book to share with children 3-6 years old. It will be on our shelves for years to come.

Montessori Summer Book Club: Pacific Northwest Books

When I was looking for books to bring to Africa to show the classrooms I would be teaching in my own home, the animals I see everyday and the general landscape, these two gorgeous ones immediately sold me.

A Whale’s World showcases the amazing ocean we find our tiny island home in. The photographs are stunning.

The story follows a local pod of orcas on their journey in search of food. Quentin loved showing the children here in Africa the different aspects of orca life and the many other Pacific Northwest sea animals featured.

The underwater pictures are rich and colourful and the text gives a clear and concise story filled with facts.

A Bear’s Life showcases our same beautiful part of the world but from the perspective of the forest.

The same rich beautiful pictures and engaging text take the reader on a journey through the temperate rainforest and along the beaches that border it.

The section of the Spirit Bear was particularly fascinating to the students.

These books have been a beautiful link between the classroom here in Nigeria and our home. They are perfect for children 3yrs+ who love animals or geography. For older students, they offer endless possibilities for extended self directed research projects.