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. 

Sunday Book Club: Best Summer Exploration Books

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. 
Book info:

Sunday Book Club: The introduction of chapter books

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. 


Now it’s Quentin’s turn. We just purchased this vintage copy of “The Jungle Books” for him. It’s pages are screaming to be breathed in. That “old book” smell gets me every time. 

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. 

Follow the Child

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.
Start slowly

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. 

Sunday Book Club: Our favourite Big Idea 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. 

  
 

All of our selections give interesting facts and leave the dialogue open for more discussion. We purposely looked for facts that were interesting but not alarmist for a young child. 
    

You Are Stardust by Elin Kelsey

“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. 
 

   
 Wild Ideas by Elin Kelsey

“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. 
Happy Sunday