We love nature themed books and this one is absolutely stunning.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With Autumn and Back to School looming just around the corner, we are compelled to spend as much time as we can outside.
I love picture books that ask children to think outside the box. To be open minded, to try something new. All of these books do that. From finding wild in unexpected places, to bears trying new things. From finding an unlikely new friend to looking at the ordinary in an extraordinary way.
These books invite a child to look at the world with awe and wonder. Two big, important words in the Montessori world.
As an after note: “Explorers of the Wild” is written in the first person. Think hard about which of the Explorers it is. That is the genius of this book. We are more alike than different.
I don’t think there is anything more lovely in all the world then laying under a tree, submersed in a book.
My childhood was almost entirely made up of reading while laying in a field, sitting in a tree or hiding under warm blankets.
We filled Anthony’s childhood bookshelf with the classics. Roald Dahl, Jules Verne, J.M Barrie, and I have fond memories sitting on the edge of his bed sharing them before he drifted off.
We have read to Quentin everyday since before he was born. We have a huge love of good quality picture books, but there’s always a pause when it comes to chapter books. Is the child ready? Will it hold their attention?
Here’s what we did.
If your child finds it hard to sit through a picture book story, it’s not time for chapter books yet. If they sit through two or three at a time, they are most likely ready.
We moved to longer stories like these first. Stories that had a few pictures, but mostly words on every page. We started at night and replaced the picture book that we read as part of our nighttime routine.
Keep your child’s interests and age in mind
If your child has a phobia of water “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” might not be a good starting point. If your child loves horses “Black Beauty” might not be good either because there is a death of a horse in it. Think about the books you read as a child. They may be perfect for you to pass down to your own child.
Try a few different books with your child to find one that works well. We leave them out, where Quentin can see them. The covers spark his interest and keep him engaged with the idea. Sometimes it’s only a few pages we get through, sometimes multiple chapters. We don’t have a set limit of reading time or pages a day. This helps keep everyone enjoying the story.
Research library lists or book lists online. There is so much information out there and so many great books waiting to be picked up by the next generation.
Do you have a favourite classic?
Leave a message in the comments. We are always on the look out for great books.
This week has been busy for us. However, we have been exploring big concepts with Quentin and I thought I’d share some of the best books for children that look at abstract ideas.
“If you were a planet, you’d be a lot like the Earth. Rainforests on land and algae in the oceans are the Earth’s lungs.”
A book detailing the connections between the Earth, it’s creatures and the child. So stunning and absolutely fantastic.
“If squirrels can learn to cross roads by watching people, what can you learn by watching squirrels?”
A book that celebrates the nature of problem solving. It shows children that it’s okay to have problems, and just like animals people are capable of using their minds to come up with a solution. A valuable lesson for all of us.
If: A mind bending new way of looking at big ideas and numbers by David J. Smith
“If the Sun were the size of a grapefruit, Earth would be the size of a grain of salt.”
I love big concepts. This book is ideally suited to the next Montessori Plane of Development, however Quentin can grasp some of the concepts and we enjoy talking about them.
4,962,571 by Trevor Eissler
This is a long time favourite here. Written by Montessori advocate Trevor Eissler it tells of a boy who wants to count to a really big number. It is an excellent book for any 3-6 child who has moved on to the Golden Beads in the classroom, or a child who is intrigued by the prospect of counting leaves on a tree.