On Our Bookshelves: Winter Books

It is officially December! This morning I showed Frida our new rotation of books, which are all about winter and the holidays we celebrate (Chanukah and Christmas). I have been so excited to rotate in our winter books this year! I think because it has been a difficult summer and autumn for us, winter this year feels a bit like a fresh start, and I have been really looking forward to the festive season.

As well as rotating fresh books onto the shelves, I hung up Frida’s advent calendar and we also put up our – tiny, fake – Christmas tree. We bought this tiny tree last year when our cat was a small kitten, to test the waters (verdict? He goes wild for baubles.) This year after some deliberation we’ve decided to stick to the tiny tree; partly because the cat still goes wild, and partly because buying a bigger tree – even a real one – just for the sake of it seemed a bit wasteful. Frida is just as delighted by a small tree, and was it really worth getting an “impressive” tree (and taking up space in our small house) so I could share pretty photos of it and delight guests? Nope. I’m not saying we’ll never get a real tree again, but for now I’ve made my peace with tiny tree.

Anyway. Back to books! Many of these books are Montessori-friendly, but as I have written before I am not strict when it comes to books and many of Frida’s (and our!) favourite books include elements of fantasy, namely talking animals. I am more interested in whether the language is rich, whether the plot is interesting, and how the characters in the story interact with one another.

(Excuse the cheesy lights – I found the in the back of a cupboard and thought Frida would enjoy them!)

Top row L-R:

The Snowman. A winter classic. Montessori friendly, if you accept that the little boy was dreaming!

Winter Story. The Brambly Hedge books are really wonderful, with spectacular illustrations and sweet plots. Although these are not Montessori friendly as they feature talking mice, I would defy anyone not to fall in love with the illustrations.

The Emperor’s Egg. I love the Nature Storybooks series so much, and this book is no exception! A lovely, chilly tale of how Emperor Penguins raise their young. Montessori friendly.

Robin’s Winter Song. A sweet story about a little Robin’s first winter.

Mog’s Christmas Calamity. Mog the cat causes chaos at Christmas. We love this story! Mog doesn’t talk so I feel that Mog books are Montessori compatible, but each family to their own.

Paddington and the Christmas Surprise. Paddington is such a British institution, and we really enjoy reading the various Paddington stories together.

Middle row L-R:

Winter Hedgehog. A story about the smallest hedgehog in the wood, who decides to stay awake rather than hibernate because he wants to see the wonders of winter for himself. The illustrations are very lovely.

Little Christmas Tree. A beautiful book filled with lots of flaps to peek under. Montessori friendly.

The Polar Bear. A very special factual book about polar bears. This is a stunning book, and would make a wonderful winter gift for a child. Montessori friendly.

Stick Man. Stick Man goes for a jog, but a series of unfortunate events leave him in peril far from home. Will he be home in time for Christmas? Not for Montessori purists unfortunately.

Eight Candles to Light: A Chanukah Story. A simple picture book depicting a family celebrating Chanukah in different ways. Montessori friendly.

The Mitten. A winter tale of a lost mitten which becomes a shelter for a surprising number of animals! Quite Montessori friendly; there are no talking animals, though the story is not realistic as a lot of animals squeeze into one mitten! Last year we had a lot of fun acting this out with a glove and a basket of wooden animals.

Bottom row L-R: 

Alfie’s Christmas.  A sweet, realistic Christmas tale; we love Alfie stories. Montessori friendly.

Chanukah Lights Everywhere. A beautiful book about a family celebrating the eight nights of Chanukah. Montessori friendly.

Mog’s Christmas. More mischief from Mog, who is scared by a Christmas tree and all the commotion of the festive season.

Together At Christmas (Melrose and Croc). Frida really enjoys the gentle Melrose and Croc stories. Their relationship is very lovely, and I like how kind they are to each other. Definitely not Montessori friendly though as these feature a talking dog and crocodile!

Winter.  A stunning picture book without words. We love Gerda Muller; I feel the lack of words adds so much as there is space for telling our own stories. Montessori friendly.

Winter (from the Nursery Collection). A gorgeous Shirley Hughes book with stunning illustrations and short poems. Montessori friendly.

What are your favourite winter and holiday books?

I have a few more wintry posts planned over the next few weeks on our plans for things to make and do this December, how we will be celebrating Christmas as a secular family, some tips for a greener Christmas, and sharing the gifts we have bought Frida. Have you seen my Montessori-friendly gift guide

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Why we love… Nature Storybooks 

As a family, we read a lot of books. I aim to take Frida to the library regularly, I read children’s book reviews, greedily soak up recommendations, and love discovering new books to share with her. One of my happiest discoveries has been the Nature Storybooks series, and I have been meaning to share a little bit about the books for a while now.

The Nature Storybooks series is perfect for Montessori and non-Montessori homes alike. Each beautifully illustrated book tells a fact-based story based on one animal.

Some of the stories feature a child learning about and observing the animals with a family member. White Owl, Barn Owl features a little girl building an owl box with her grandfather, Growing Frogs shows a child collecting frogspawn with her mother and growing frogs in a tank, Yucky Worms has a grandmother teaching her grandchild all about how helpful the worms in the soil can be, and Just Ducks! depicts a girl visiting local ducks. Each of these stories is factually correct, and includes lots of information about the habits and biology of each animal.

Other stories are told about the animal themselves, as they go on a journey. Tigress tells the story of a tigress who needs to find a new home for her cubs, The Emperor’s Egg is all how the lengths emperor penguins fathers go to to protect their eggs and chicks, and Tracks of a Panda tells us about a panda and her growing cub.

I love that these books convey factual information through story. They are so engaging for young children. Many of these books have really inspired Frida’s play and imagination. She might be pretending to be the newborn panda cub from “Tracks of a Panda” eating its first bamboo shoots, or making her toy guinea pig make the noises described in “I Love Guinea Pigs“. She has learnt so much effortlessly, and loves to tell us about the different animals we have been reading about.

Frida has been enjoying these books since we discovered them just before she turned two, and she was able to understand the sweet, simple stories and the facts included within the books. The books themselves say they are targeted at children in UK school years 1-4 (so age 5-9) but I certainly think far younger children could enjoy having these books read to them.

I cannot recommend these books enough. Luckily our local library does have a few of these books, but we have happily bought a number of them as they are a joy to read – for us as parents as well as Frida. I have actually learnt quite a lot from them!

Next on the list for us to find a copy of will be Seahorse: The Shyest Fish in the Sea or Caterpillar Butterfly. The back of each book has a list of some of the others in the series, so Frida loves going through, saying which ones she has read, and choosing which she would like to read next.

These books would make lovely gifts, especially when paired with a matching toy animal or two to deepen the play opportunities.

My favourite Montessori books for parents

I am often asked if I can recommend some books on Montessori for parents who would like to find out more, or to deepen their knowledge and understanding on the topic. I have finally organised myself enough to share some recommendations with you!

There is so much more to the Montessori philosophy and approach than pretty trays and wooden toys. At the heart of Montessori is a deep respect for the child, a trust in their desire and ability to learn, be independent, and make good choices, and a desire for peace and cooperation, in the home and in the world at large; it is this element of Montessori which first got me interested in its approach to education. It goes hand-in-hand with gentle, respectful parenting – no shouting, no punishments, no reward-charts or bribing, just learning, together, with love.

If you have heard about Montessori, but don’t know where to start, I urge you to begin with books – for yourself. Although it can be tempting to throw yourself in at the deep end right away and start making changes to your home or buying Montessori materials, a little time spent reading to fully understand how to set up a Montessori home – and a Montessori parenting attitude! – will allow your child to truly flourish.

Here are some of my recommendations:

Learning Together: What Montessori Can Offer Your Family (Kathi Hughes)

This is a lovely, short “beginners guide” to Montessori. A perfect place to begin if you’d like to find out more about the Montessori approach, or to buy for your partner / your child’s grandparents / anyone you think would benefit from an overview!

The Joyful Child: Montessori Global Wisdom for Birth to Three (Susan M. Stephenson)

If I had to recommend one Montessori book to a parent of a baby or toddler, this one would be it. It covers everything you need to know, including the prepared environment, physical development, toys, music, language, self-respect, science, care of self, and much more. I found this book invaluable when Frida was younger and I was just starting to really learn about the Montessori philosophy, and it shaped a lot of my thoughts and parenting.

Child of the World: Montessori Global Education for Age 3-12+ (Susan M. Stephenson)

I have just read this, and now my husband is reading this. It’s a great overview of the topics children should be introduced to, and how to introduce them. I can see myself coming back to this book a lot! I really enjoyed reading it, and felt it conveyed a lot of easily-digestible information in a short book.

How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature (Scott D. Sampson)

Not actually a Montessori book, but I think it should be prescribed reading for every modern parent! On days where I really don’t feel like leaving the house, the lessons from this book serve as a virtual push to get us outdoors, and I have never once regretted it.

Montessori Today (Paula P. Lillard)

This book is a great overview of Montessori education, from birth to adulthood. There is a focus on the classroom rather than the home, but I have still found it a very useful book in terms of development and the sorts of activities to be considering now as well as planning in the future.

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids (Kim John Payne)

This book deeply affected the way that I think about parenting, our family rhythm, and what I want to prioritise as a mother. Although it is rooted in Waldorf philosophy, I think it will resonate with Montessori-inspired families. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone with children.

Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason (Alfie Kohn)

This wonderful book has really influenced the way my husband and I parent, and again, although Kohn is not a Montessorian, his gentle and respectful approach to parenting without praise and punishment fits in beautifully with the philosophy. We love this book so much, and it has given us much food for thought.

Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Pre-school Years (Elizabeth G. Hainstock)

A lovely, approachable, illustrated book describing a wealth of practical life, sensorial, language, and math activities, all suitable for pre-schoolers. Because this is aimed at parents teaching Montessori at home, many of her activities can be DIY’d, and she even provides instructions. When I first read this book I was struck by how un-intimidating it made Montessori activities feel. I love it!

Montessori Read & Write: A parent’s guide to literacy for children (Lynne Lawrence)

I believe this is essential reading for the parent of any young child, not just those Montessori-inspired families. The approach Lawrence sets out in her book is beautifully simple and logical, and would be a wonderful complement to traditional schooling as well as a fantastic resource for homeschooling families. If you have a little one, and wish to help them learn to read and write, then you need to read this book!

Basic Montessori: Learning Activities for Under-Fives (David Gettman)

I would recommend this book to anyone who has decided on a Montessori approach (or whose child will be attending a Montessori nursery or school) and who has perhaps read other more general books on the Montessori philosophy first. This brilliant book is a practical guide to many Montessori materials, including what the child learns from each one, how to present it, and (if appropriate) some options for DIY. I find myself picking it up constantly at the moment.

How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk (Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish)

I love the respectful, encouraging ethos of this book, and I’m sure I will be returning to it a lot over the years. It is definitely aimed at parents of older children though, so I have How To Talk So Little Kids Will Listen in my online shopping basket at the moment!

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As we are planning on home schooling, I find myself reading so many books on education. Although I love the Montessori approach, I personally see real benefit in reading about many different approaches, so my bookshelves are groaning under the weight of books on Steiner Waldorf education, project-based learning, classical education, Charlotte Mason, unschooling, and more. From each book I read I find myself storing little parts to take forward with us on our journey.

Which parenting or education books do you love? Please share your recommendations with me in the comments, as I love discovering new titles. 

Beautiful non-fiction books we love 

Hello! I hope you are all enjoying the summer. Here in England it seems like the sunshine has finally come back out for a while after weeks of rain – good timing for us as we have spent the weekend camping with friends. I’ve come back feeling physically tired but mentally refreshed after a weekend of fresh air and plenty of good conversation.

I wanted to share some of our favourite non-fiction books which we are currently reading. I love children’s non-fiction, and feel like we are so spoilt for choice at the moment, with many wonderful authors and illustrators working to bring the most beautiful books to the market. Here are some of our favourites, some of which are relatively new to us, and some of which we have had for a while but keep coming back to. Please feel free to share your favourites in the comments!

The Street Beneath My Feet (Charlotte Guillain and Yuval Zommer)

Frida has been asking us a lot recently about what is under the ground, and I felt like our explanations were not satisfying her need to really explore the topic. So I did what I always do when I want to look at a new idea with Frida, and researched books on the topic! I am really excited about this book, and I think that if you have children then they will be excited by it too. It’s a pull-out book, which opens up into a long vertical “slice” of under the ground, from the surface of the earth right to the earth’s core. Along the way we encounter underground trains, animal burrows, soil, rocks and minerals, pipes, bones, and much, much more. One side looks at the ground under a busy street, the other the ground under a garden or field.

This beautiful book takes a fairly abstract concept and makes it tangible for even very young children to grasp, with sufficient information and detail that much older children would be delighted by it too. I will definitely be buying this as a gift for some of the children I know – I can’t imagine any child not enjoying this gorgeous publication!

Today (Julie Morstad)

I love the concept of this book so much. It starts with a child waking in the morning, then each double-page spread looks at a choice they might make (where to go, what to wear, what to eat for breakfast), illustrates lots of options, then asks what you would choose! We have had so much fun as a family reading through this book, talking about which choices we would make. As well as being a fun book it’s also brilliant for expanding a child’s vocabulary. Love it.

Lots: The Diversity of Life on Earth (Nicola Davies)

I am a huge fan of Nicola Davies’ books, and this one does certainly not disappoint. A stunning book tackling the important issue of loss of diversity as well as introducing the concept of ecosystems in an accessible and interesting way. I love that her books do not have a huge amount of writing, allowing the illustrations to speak volumes. This book is very special and, in my opinion, extremely important. A great place to start conversations about conservation and the need to look after our planet.

The Barefoot Book of Children

I am sure I have written about this book before, but I didn’t feel I could write about beautiful non-fiction book without including this. If you don’t have it in your child’s book collection, buy it, or reserve it from the library. Seriously. It’s a wonderful look at the ways in which children around the globe are all different and unique, and yet all so very similar. It’s such a good place to start if you want to introduce more diversity to your child’s bookshelves, and an excellent basis for talking about peace, and disabilities, and different family set-ups, and geography, and and and…

How Do Flowers Grow? (Lift-the-Flap First Questions and Answers)

We recently bought this book, and I wished we had bought it sooner! A beautiful, simple book showing how flowers grow from seeds, how pollination works, how seeds are dispersed, and much more. Fantastic.

Grandma’s House (Alice Melvin)

This book is just so gorgeous, a real visual feast for children to enjoy. The book follows a girl as she walks through her grandmother’s beautiful home, ending up in the sort of garden dreams are made of! There are not many words, but the illustrations are so rich; this book is perfect as a vocabulary building book, as there are so many objects to point out on each page, so many things to talk about. Since reading this book Frida has become very taken with the idea of attics, and what people keep in theirs.

Atlas of Animal Adventures

I love the content of this book, which features some amazing animals from across the globe. From birds of paradise to polar bears, this book makes for fascinating reading – I have certainly learnt a lot! The book includes a map of the world and separates the animals into continents, so it’s a great way to introduce some geographical concepts alongside learning about some of the incredible animals we share our planet with.

A note: If you are following a very strict Montessori approach towards books, you may want to think carefully about this one. Although all of the written content is factual, some of the illustrations appeal to children’s silly nature, and put some of the animals in human accessories or situations. This doesn’t bother me at all and Frida finds it funny, but I only introduced this book when she a) already knew what these animals looked like, and b) could clearly understand that this was for comedic effect rather than because animals wear hats or drink from tea cups!

Look Inside: Our World (Usborne)

This book is a wonderful, accessible, and fun introduction to geography and biomes. Children will adore lifting the flaps on each page (as, ahem, do I) and seeing what lies beneath, to learn more about rivers, deserts, jungles, oceans, and much more. Frida is enjoying this book now but I think she will continue to get a lot out of it for years to come as we explore these concepts further.

In the same series Frida also loves Look Inside: Your Body, which I thoroughly recommend to any family with a young child as a brilliant, visual introduction to human biology. We will definitely be looking to add more of the Look Inside series to our book collection, as I think they make complex topics so accessible for young children.

Moon (Britta Teckentrup and Patricia Hegarty)

Disclaimer – we haven’t read this yet, as it’s not actually released until next month! But we love Britta Teckentrup (we have Tree: Seasons Come, Seasons Go and Bee: Nature’s tiny miracle, both of which are wonderful) and I think this book looks stunning. I will definitely be buying a copy and using it as the basis for further discussions and work around the phases of the moon, something we haven’t really touched upon yet.

I am always looking for recommendations for gorgeous, well-written, inspiring non-fiction books to share with Frida. What beautiful books are you reading at the moment? 

Poetry for children

One of my favourite things to do with Frida is to read poetry together. We curl up in an armchair, or on the sofa, or I read to her whilst she is in the bath, or on a train, or whilst she plays. Although I love reading story books, or factual books, with Frida, I definitely find reading good poetry to her the most enjoyable in terms of reading aloud.

The benefits of reading poetry to children are huge. I would argue that poetry has a big role to play in building the foundations for literacy.

Poetry is a wonderful way to build a child’s vocabulary and language structure. With the rhymes inherent in so many poems, even very young children can easily learn new words. The very nature of poetry demands for precise vocabulary to match the rhythm and rhyme of the poem, which means language is often more imaginative and varied than in a story book.

Poetry also encourages children to recognise patterns.  Poems are often repetitive in their structure and/or meter and/or language, which is brilliant for recognising patterns. Often children will be able to guess which word will come next despite having never heard a poem before, because they have understood the pattern.

Reading poetry to your child is also really enjoyable – a big benefit in my eyes! But don’t stop at just reading it. Memorise and recite some of your favourites (start short and work up), and encourage your child to memorise and recite them with you. They can do this long before they can read the poems out loud! This might sound unrealistic, but many parents find that their toddlers have learnt parts of their favourite books off by heart. Poetry is no different!

“Experts in literacy and child development have discovered that if children know eight nursery rhymes by heart by the time they’re four years old, they’re usually among the best readers by the time they’re eight.”

[Fox, M. (2001). Reading Magic. San Diego, CA: Harcourt.]

You could begin by pausing before the end of each line of the poem, to allow your child the chance to finish it, then gradually leaving out more and more, giving them the chance to fill in the gaps, before finally asking them if they would like to tell you the poem. Of course they may well need no encouragement; I often hear Frida reciting short poems and verses to herself, and the delight and pride she takes in doing so is obvious. Your child may surprise you!

You can also make up silly poems together, a brilliant way of exploring rhyme and developing phonemic awareness.

Building a child’s poetry collection

Starting a poetry collection for your child might seem a little daunting, but it doesn’t need to be! Start with a couple of classics – don’t forget to make use of your local library too! – and take it from there. Maybe there were poems you loved as a child you would like to share?

If you are thinking of starting a poetry collection for a young child, here are some of my recommendations. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but I think this would provide an excellent base for any  child’s book collection, and they are certainly all books which we read often and love.

When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne. This is a must-have in my opinion. We read this so often!

Now We Are Six by A. A. Milne. Ditto. Simply superb.

Out and About: A First Book of Poems by Shirley Hughes. Gorgeously illustrated, gentle poems. I would recommend this to every family with toddlers.

A Child’s Book of Poems by Gyo Fujikawa. The illustrations in this volume are superb, as are some of the poems included.

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot. So much fun! The language is fantastic and the poems are brilliant. Buy this if you want your child to effortlessly learn words such as prestidigitation and suavity.

The Complete Nonsense and Other Verse by Edward  Lear. We LOVE Lear’s nonsense poems – you have probably heard of the Owl and the Pussycat, his most famous one. When Frida was a tiny baby I could always calm her down if she was upset by reciting “The Quangle Wangle’s Hat”.

I would also add in a good nursery rhyme collection; we have The Puffin Book of Nursery Rhymes illustrated and compiled by Raymond Briggs.

If you enjoy reading poetry and rhymes together, I would encourage you to learn some simple verses together too, perhaps involving some finger-play. We love Waldorf-inspired verses and have been lucky enough to learn some through the Steiner playgroup we attend. There are too many to share with you, but a google search should bring up many!

I will leave you with one of Frida’s favourites:

“A big big cat, (open your hands further apart horizontally)

“And a small small mouse, (bring your hands closer together)

“Lived together in a tall tall house. (open your hands further apart vertically)

“But the big big cat (open your hands further apart horizontally)

“Ran fast fast fast, (use your hands to make running paws)

“And the small small mouse was… (bring your hands closer together but don’t close them)

“Caught at last!” (clap your hands as if catching a mouse)

Do you enjoy poetry or verses with your child? Which are your favourites?

What we’re reading: June 

I’ve done some book rotation, including some books with a summer / seaside / bugs theme. I often just show you a small selection of the books we have out, so I thought I would show you the whole of Frida’s book shelves.

Because it’s June, I’ve updated the seasonal books on the shelf in Frida’s room.

On her shelf she has: Summer / Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature / Summer (from The Nursery Collection) / Flower Fairies of the Summer

When rotating books, I usually try to ensure a balance of current favourites and books we haven’t read for a while, reality-based books and books with an element of fantasy, easy books and ones which are a little more challenging (either because they are longer or deal with more complex topics).

Top shelf: Dogger (MF) / Paddington in the Garden / When We Were Very Young  (MF) / Wild Animals (also published as British Animals) MF) / Out and About: A First Book of Poems (MF) / The Story Orchestra: Four Seasons in One Day (MF although there are accompanying sounds)

Middle shelf: 199 Things Under the Sea (MF) / Tiddler / Meg at Sea / The Storm Whale (semi-MF) / British Seashore (MF) / The Blue Whale (MF)

Bottom shelf: Bee: Nature’s tiny miracle (MF) / First Facts Bugs (MF) / 1001 Bugs to Spot (MF) / Look Inside: Your Body (MF) / Summer  (MF) / Eating the Alphabet (MF)

MF = Montessori-friendly, ie. reality based

We also have a basket of library books in our sitting room. I do try to keep these separate just for ease, but in the shelves above I have included a couple of library books. Again, when we go to the library, I usually try to strike a balance when choosing what to borrow (and of course Frida has an opinion too!)

We have also recently started listening to some audio books together, mostly Mog books (by Judith Kerr) and Alfie stories by Shirley Hughes. I would love your recommendations for pre-school age audio books.

What we’re reading: March 

I wanted in this post to talk a bit about how we choose which books we bring into our home. Although we are a Montessori-inspired family, one of the areas I struggle with is books, and I wanted to share my thoughts with you as they relate to our family.

I want to start with a confession: we read fantasy to Frida. This seems to be a hotly-debated topic, but as I understand it: strict Montessorians will not introduce young children to books which have fantasy in (for example, talking animals, animals wearing clothes, magic, witches and wizards, fantasty creatures such as unicorns and monsters, and so on). The idea behind this is that it’s better to give children reading materials which are based in reality, as they have no way of distinguishing what is real and what is not. Young children are learning about the world through all we present to them, so by presenting reality-based books we are reinforcing real-life to them.

Whilst I have some sympathy for this view, it isn’t one which works well for our daughter, or family! Although we give Frida many Montessori-friendly books (her favourites for a long time have been Shirley Hughes books, and fact-books about birds and animals and insects), we have always had a selection of “fantasy” books (mainly books which feature talking, person-like animals).

Frida is nearly two, and she already understands perfectly well the difference between stories which could happen in real life, and things which are “pretend” – if you ask her “do animals really talk?” she knows full well the answer is no! We spend lots of time going to farms, to the zoo, to aquariums, and we have a pet cat – none of which wear clothes, or talk, or sing. She is also using the idea of “pretending” in her own play, and will delight in telling us that she is pretending her rug is an island, or that she’s pretending to sleep.

Fantasy stories, for Frida, are captivating. I would also argue that many of them are superbly written, with the sort of language I haven’t seen in more Montessori-friendly books. Just this week she has learnt the words soporific and implore, and can use these correctly in a sentence. These both come from a Beatrix Potter book! The rhythm and rhyme found in some of these books is amazing, too – really good for language development. I do think that books are part of the reason why Frida’s language and vocabulary has been quite advanced from a young age.

For our family, a mix of books works well, especially now that Frida has strong views about which books she would like (she loves to look at the “more books in this series” pages in hr books and point out the ones we don’t have and that she would like to read!). We mix fantasy books with books based in reality, and lots of discussion about real vs. pretend, and with lots of learning about the real world.

These are the books Frida is enjoying this month. I’ve marked them MF (Montessori-friendly) or NMF (not Montessori-friendly), for ease!

The Barefoot Book of Children (Strickland / DePalma / Dean)
This book is simply amazing. I think it belongs on the shelf of every child. It’s a wonderful celebration of diversity, what makes us different, and what we all share. Frida loves to talk about why we have different skin colours, why some people have different family set-ups, and why some children need to use a wheelchair. A beautifully illustrated book which will open up many important discussions. If you only buy your child one book, buy this one! (MF)

Bee (Britta Teckentrup)
A lovely read for spring! This shows the journey a bee goes on, collecting pollen and drinking nectar. There is a ladybird to spot on each page, and lots of familiar animals and flowers to look at. The illustrations are gorgeous, and Frida really enjoys reading this book. (MF)

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
Another amazing book, and one which we will be reading (and using as a basis for further learning) for years to come. It features the stories of 100 inspirational women and girls – from Cleopatra to Malala – alongside great illustrations. Another must-read for boys and girls alike! (MF)

How Does My Garden Grow (Gerda Muller)
This book is a little bit old for Frida, but she loves to look at the illustrations, and talk about how vegetables grow. It’s a brilliant book for sping time, just as all of the shoots are coming up, and it tells the story of a little girl who goes to stay with her grandparents and learns how to grow food. (MF)

123 (from our beloved Shirley Hughes Nursery Collection)
I always rave about how much we love Shirley Hughes, and this book is no exception. Frida is starting to show some interest in numbers, so this book is a perfect addition to her current shelves. (MF)

Hairy Maclary, Shoo! (Lynley Dodd) and Hairy Maclary’s Hat Tricks (Lynley Dodd)
Frida LOVES the Lynley Dodd books, and has done since she was very small. The language Dodd uses is fantastic, and her rhymes are brilliant too. I actually think these are pretty Montessori-friendly – despite featuring animals, they don’t talk, they just do / think animal things (for example, in Shoo, Hairy goes into a delivery van, gets lost, runs around lots of places, and finally gets taken home by a neighbour). These were a great library find! (MF)

The Tale Of Peter Rabbit and The Tale of The Flopsy Bunnies both Beatrix Potter
These are new for Frida, and my goodness, she loves them. They have been inspiring all sorts of rabbit-based imaginative play, and lots of discussion. The language Potter uses in her books is great – not at all dumbed down. We have had to slightly censor a couple of things in these books, as on occasion they do talk about baking rabbits into pies / turning them into purses (!), but I think on the whole Frida is ready for these slightly longer books. The illustrations are beautiful too. (Very much NMF though I’m afraid!)

The Cat in the Hat Comes Back (Dr Seuss)
We are big Dr Seuss fans in this house. For a long time The Cat in the Hat was a firm favourite (to the extent that my husband memorised the whole thing to recite during car trips!) and so I thought it would be fun to get the sequel. Frida was delighted with it. (NMF)

Tabby McTat (Julia Donaldson)
A good library find for my cat-obsessed toddler! Julia Donaldson is great, too – some of her books I find better than others, but the way she writes is catchy and the stories are great for little ones. Frida loves the Gruffalo (which we also learnt by heart for her), the Gruffalo’s Child, the Snail and the Whale, Tiddler (another we both learnt by heart!), and A Squash and a Squeeze. (NMF)

What books are you loving this month? I’m thinking ahead to Frida’s birthday in a few weeks – I’ve already put aside a copy of Home by Carson Ellis for her birthday, but I will probably get a couple more books and would love some inspiration!

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