In an effort to utilize my librarian background, I am embarking on a series of book reviews, to be published every Friday. These reviews will cover science education books for and about children, as well as reality-based children’s books for a Montessori lifestyle.
This week I’ve reviewed books that cover the concept of listening, hearing and sound – all concepts that fall in the ‘Sensorial’ section of a Montessori classroom. To see previous book reviews on other Sensorial topics – check out the posts on color, systems, solids and shapes, and visual observation.
Ages 2 and up
Carle, Eric. The Very Quiet Cricket. Philomel Books: New York, 1990.
A baby cricket is born and wants to be able to answer the other insects in the forest, but when he rubs his wings together, they don’t make a sound. After encountering a big cricket, a locust, a praying mantis, a worm, a spittlebug, a cicada, a bumblebee, a dragonfly, mosquitoes and a luna moth, the little cricket encounters a female cricket and is finally able to rub his wings together to make a sound. At the end of the book, a surprise chirping sound is created by opening the last page. Therefore, it’s worth it to purchase a new copy of this book (board book or otherwise) because the cricket sound will be worn out on a typical library copy.
Montessori Note: While the language of the book has the insects saying “good night” or “hello”, often it is used to introduce the sound that each animal makes. For example, the cicada screeches “good afternoon.” Teachers and parents could easily omit these words if they are concerned that children will be confused by the implication that insects speak.
Ages 2 and up
Aliki. Quiet in the Garden. Greenwillow Books: New York, 2009.
While very young children may have trouble sitting still long enough to hear things in their garden, preschool age children are ready for the chance to play the silence game. The little boy is Aliki’s story likes to sit quietly because if he is “very still, (he) sees more.” As he is quiet in his garden, he can hear different sounds (chirp, squeak, crunch). As he encounters different animals in the garden, he notices different actions and hears different sounds. In addition to the simple sentences, there is a “side conversation” that goes on between the two animals that are featured on each page. They do not add anything to the story and do not need to be read aloud. The colored-pencil illustrations are bright and vibrant and will have your youngsters poring over each page. Pictures might be great for an introductory art class as well. After reading, head outside and see what your students can hear in their garden.
Ages 3 and up
Singer, Marilyn. Quiet Night. Illustrated by John Manders. Clarion Books: New York, 2002.
The moon is bright and the animals are coming out to hunt, play and be active during the quiet night. In the same rhythm as “the house that Jack built,” Singer’s story builds as the “four fish whap-slap, three geese honk-honk, two owls whoo-hoo, and a frog bar-rums on a quiet night.” Eventually, we see a tent and ten campers emerge as they ponder all of the noises of the night! A cute, easy-flowing story that will make children giggle while still introducing them to the concept of nocturnal animals and a ‘quiet’ night.
Ages 5 and up
Wood, Douglas. A Quiet Place. Illustrated by Dan Andreasen. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: New York, 2002.
This large book lends itself to sharing with a group and the soft, oil- painted illustrations are lovely, realistic and add much to the abstract concepts of the story. A young, city-dwelling boy needs some quiet – a rest from “bells ringing, whistles shrieking, and grown-ups talking.” He ponders the places he could go – under a bush, in the woods, by the sea, in the desert, by a pond, in a cave, on top of a hill, in a snowdrift, in a museum, in the library, or just in his own room with his own thoughts. The concept of needing a quiet place may be foreign to many youngsters, but this could be a good book to use when discussing why someone might need a quiet space and how to recognize when that’s important. This book would also be most helpful for introducing a home or school “quiet” space.
Although I didn’t have a chance to read them, the following books seem as if they would fit into a Montessori curriculum.
Showers, Paul. The Listening Walk. HarperCollins: New York, 1993 (reprint of 1961 version).
This book has been perpetually checked out within my library system and I did not have a chance to look at it, however, the premise seems to fit quite nicely into a reality-based curriculum. A girl goes on a walk and hears all sorts of sounds, from natural animal sounds to man-made lawnmower sounds. A perfect book to read before you head out on your own listening walk.
Lemniscates. Silence. American Psychological Association’s Magination Press: New York, 2012.
As we ask our children to filter more and more information – at a younger age – books that help teach mindfulness are quite valuable. This is a story to read with children while it asks them to consider the sounds of our world.