Books we love

My dear friend Susan Banon* went through great pains to put together a list of books that she could recommend for families (in English and French). She collaborated with me and other Anglophones/Francophones and together we all came up with the results listed below. Of course, there are so many more books that we could recommend; it would be impossible to give you a finite list. Instead, we just wanted to wet your whistle and get you started.

When choosing books for children under age 6, there are a few key things to keep in mind:

  • Search for elegant art. Try to stay away from abstract/disjointed or alarming art and lean towards more realistic, lovely illustrations.
  • Find stories with gracious/kind behavior. Characters who are kind to others are good role models for children. The young child is particularly susceptible to representations of what it means to be a human. They don’t judge, they just do what they see everyone around them do. Give them as many examples of wholesome, skillful living as you can.
  • Equitably represent the wondrous variety of life on earth. The young child will be interested in books that feature children that look like they do, children that look like the children around them, and children from other parts of the world. Make it a point to regularly present books that feature diverse ethnicities/skin tones, cultures, physical abilities/appearances, homes, meals, farms, etc. All children are wonderful; choose books that demonstrate this truth.
  • Follow their interests. If they love horses, head to the library and see if you can find books about farriers, equestrians, and more. Young children also adore field guides! My own son spent hours with the Audubon Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals.

I just want to add a note about the real-world/talking animals debate. Montessorians can be quite strict or quite permissive when it comes to books that feature fantastical characters/concepts and talking animals. The controversy arises from what we know about early childhood development: the young child is just developing their ability to think abstractly (theory of mind). It takes a lot of extra cognitive effort for them to make sense of impossible things (like talking sponges). It appears like they are interested in these ideas because they get 'stuck' on them as they try to make sense of something that makes no sense. While our culture loves to give young children fantasy characters, this actually does not meet the young child’s deeper needs of learning about the real world. Fantasy is wonderful after around age 6, when the child enters fully into the abstract world of the imagination.

At the same time, Winnie the Pooh and Arthur the aardvark are adored by children everywhere. My own daughter read her first words in the book Arthur’s Reading Race (given to her by her grandmother). I think the young child does not see the difference so clearly between a bear/aardvark that is anthropomorphized and an actual human. This is a topic that is ripe for research but for now, if it is beautiful, the story is based in reality, the topic is meaningful/relevant for the young child, and the child is interested in it, I say go for it. Just keep in mind that we are focused on things that could actually happen/be experienced in the real world (like how Arthur navigates school or Winnie the Pooh tries to be a good friend).

Also, if you have younger children, you can find a long list of books specifically for toddlers (and great guidance on all things toddler) on themontessorinotebook.com.

I hope this helps you stack your shelves with treasures! Feel free to add your favorites in the comments below.

 

English Books

Title Author
A Child’s Book of Poems Gyo Fujikawa
A Letter to Amy Ezra Jack Keats
A Snowy Day Ezra Jack Keats
Airport Byron Barton
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Judith Viorst
Aliki Brandenberg known only as Aliki
All the Way to Morning Marc Hartman
A Picnic with Monet Julie Merberg & Suzanne Bober
Audubon Field Guides On any topic the child is interested in
Babies Gyo Fujikawa
Beach Day Karen Roosa
Blueberries for Sal Robert McCloskey
Bruno Munari Series  
Building a house Byron Barton
Bus Stops Taro Gomi
Dory Story Jerry Pallotta
Dress Up and Let’s Have a Party Remi Charlip
Every Friday Dan Yaccomma
Eye to Eye Steve Jenkins
Handa’s Surprise Eileen Brown
Harold and the Purple Crayon Crockett Johnson
Henri’s Walk to Paris Leonore Klein
I Can Helen Oxbury
I Hear Helen Oxbury
I Know a lot of Things Ann Rand and Paul Rand
I See Helen Oxbury
I See Me Pegi Deitz Shea
I’m Sorry Sam McBratney
Last Stop on Market Street Matt de la Pena
Listen Listen Phillis Gershator
Madeline Ludwig Bemelmans
Make Way for Ducklings Robert McCloskey
Museum ABC The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Musical Beds Mora Bergman
My Bunny & Me Lindsay George
Oh What a Busy Day Gyo Fujikawa
One Morning in Maine Robert McCloskey
Owl Moon Jane Yolen
Quiet Tomie de Paola
Round is a Mooncake Roseanne Trey
Sail Away Donald Crews
Sparkle and Spin Ann Rand and Paul Rand
Splash Flora McDonnell
Spring is Here Taro Gomi
Tattered Sails Verla Key
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes Mem Fox
Thank you Bees Toni Yuly
The Alfie Series : Dogger/Alfie Gets In First/Alfie’s Feet/Alfie and his Best Friend Shirley Hughes  
The Birthday Surprise Shirley Hughes
The Bus Stop Janet Morgan Stoeke
The Carrot Seed Ruth Krauss
The Dot Peter H. Reynolds
The Grandpa Series : Grandpa’s Cardigan/Shorts/Shed/Slippers Joy Watson & Wendy Hodder 
The House Book Keith Duquette
The Invisible Boy Trudy Ludwig
The Invisible String Patrice Karst
The Listening Walk  Paul Showers
The Name Jar Yangsook Choi 
The Sandwich Swap Her Majesty Queen Rania Alabdullah
Tidy Up Small World Books
Time for Bed Mem Fox
What a Wonderful World (book and song) Bob Thiele 
When Night Time Comes Judy Pederson
Whistle for Willie Ezra Jack Keats

 

Livres en Français

C'est autant d'amour que je t'envoie Coline Irwin
Ce que papa m'dit Astrid Desbordes, Pauline Martin
Cinq milliards de visages Peter Spier
Comme toi Jean-Baptiste Del Amo
Comment tout a commencé Liuna Virardi
Couleurs Hervé Tullet
L'incroyable histoire de l'orchestre recyclé Michel Piquemal 
Le bébé collection Seuil.  Ecole Freinet 
Le petits lascares  
Le temps qui passe  
Les maximes series Charlotte Poussin
Mes petits histoires montessori (Series) Eve Hermann, Roberta Rocchi
Mon amour Astrid Desbordes, Pauline Martin
Mon coffret montessori des oiseaux  Eve Hermann, Roberta Rocchi
On joue? Hervé Tullet
Quand il pleut Junko Nakamura
Un livre Hervé Tullet
Un livre qui fait des sons Hervé Tullet
Une si petite graine Eric Carle

 

*Susan lives in Paris and she and I did our AMI primary training together in the bilingual Montreal program. She has worked in Montessori schools in Paris for decades.

 

 

January 06, 2020 by Julia Volkman
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Comments

Lisa Richtmann

Lisa Richtmann said:

Thank you for the book recommendations! As the French Specialist at my school, I am always interested in exploring new titles en français! I willbwcheckjng out some o FCC these titles. Merci! I would also love to learn about your bilingual training in Montréal.

Julia Volkman

Julia Volkman said:

@Lisa Richtmann: Thanks for asking about the bilingual training. Our Montreal AMI primary training was wonderful. Everything was taught in English and then immediately translated into French. Since I speak French, I basically got the entire training twice! Sometimes I understood the French translation more clearly than the English explanation. I feel really blessed to have experienced the course this way.

I was always grouped with my French peers for writing papers, though, and that was much harder for me (my written French is not nearly as good as my spoken French)! I still loved it though. AMI bilingual training is THE BEST!!!

Lisa Richtmann

Lisa Richtmann said:

Wow, that sounds wonderful! I would love to do my training in Montreal but realistically, it’s not feasible. I’m thrilled to do my training at my own school! Will you be in Seattle?

Julia Volkman

Julia Volkman said:

@Lisa Richtmann: YES! I am coming to Seattle! I’ll have several new products that are in the final testing stage available for people to explore/comment on. Be sure to stop by our table and introduce yourself!

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