We have a lot of books in our home, for Frida and for us. It’s very important to me and to my husband that we encourage a love of books in Frida, and so far I think it’s working. She is a big fan of reading. From a young age she has had a long attention span, devouring story after story, picking out details, and learning chunks off by heart.
Although Frida is only twenty-one months, we don’t really have many “toddler” books for her (such as board books) as she tends to get bored by these very quickly. Instead she loves books which are visually rich, either with a good story or full of animals or other details to build her vocabulary.
We try to keep books “Montessori-friendly” for the most part, ie. based in reality, factual, or mirroring every-day life. I have to admit though that there are a few books which we have which are more fantastical and although I don’t love these (the Meg and Mog series springs to mind) Frida ADORES them and so we have kept them.
We rotate Frida’s main book display which is in our spare room (it’s a tiny room, just with books and a day bed – Frida sweetly calls in the “reading room”). She can reach the bottom two shelves but can see all three shelves.
Frida also has a small book stand in her room of other “active books”, as well as a small basket in the sitting room.
We also have a big basket in the spare room where we keep books which are out of rotation (though Frida can and does search through these if she wants a book which isn’t displayed). Books which aren’t currently suitable I have kept in a cupboard out of sight in her bedroom.
You will notice that we have a lot of books “out” at once, which is unusual for many Montessori-at-home families. This is because we are following Frida’s lead, and she loves to have a big choice – she will often request books which aren’t on display, and we can easily get through five books in a sitting as she has a good concentration span. So it works for us to have a fairly wide selection available.
Because of this it was so hard to pick just a few books to share with you, but I thought I would try and pick books which are new, or special favourites.
This month, Frida is particularly enjoying:
They all saw a cat (Brendan Wenzel)
This is a new book. I saw it and couldn’t resist buying it for my cat-mad daughter! It’s a great book as it is simple for young children – the story follows a cat who is walking through the world, being seen by other animals – but it also holds appeal for older children as the illustration of the cat changes depending on which animal is seeing it.
Actual size (Steve Jenkins)
Frida loves this book. It has illustrations of different animals in their actual size – it’s fascinating for adults too. Frida’s favourite is the pigmy mouse lemur; my favourite is the fold-out page of crocodile jaws. I am sure this book can be found in many Montessori homes!
Frida (Jonah Winter)
This book tells the (simplified) story of Frida Kahlo’s life. It is beautifully illustrated, and Frida is really taken with it, asking for it often. I am sure she will continue to get lots out of this book for years to come.
Brilliant birds (QED publishing)
This book is a huge hit. When I bought it for Frida for Christmas I wondered how she would find it as it is quite big and there are hundreds of different birds inside – I did question whether it would hold her attention, or be overwhelming. I need not have doubted! It’s not unusual for Frida to spend over half an hour just on this book alone, and there have been times where she has spent an hour with it. Her bird naming skills are getting better than mine!
Noisy (part of The Nursery Collecton, Shirley Hughes)
Oh Shirley Hughes, how our family loves you. We always have a few Shirley Hughes books out on display, and they are just so wonderful. Beautiful, realistic illustrations of family life, gentle rhymes, lots of exploring of seasons and the senses. Frida has learnt so much from Shirley Hughes books, and I would strongly recommend The Nursery Collection (a set of ten short books, including one for each season) to any family with a baby or toddler.
And one for the grown-ups…
I am also trying to read more at the moment, and I’m currently reading “The Pier Falls”, a collection of short stories by Mark Haddon. Earlier this month I read “The Power” by Naomi Alderman, and next on my list is “At The Existentialist Cafe” by Sarah Bakewell.
What are you reading at the moment? Do you have any recommendations (children or adults)?