Book Reviews :: Practical Life Skills – Independence

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 computer programming books aimed at children, as well as reality-based children’s books.

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In a Montessori classroom, the guide or teacher, welcomes the young three-year-old into the classroom. It is her mission to guide this young child through the practical life and sensorial lessons during this first year in school. The purpose of these activities is to help the young child to develop concentration and fine motor skills. It seems obvious, but by increasing a child’s concentration with practical life activities, this extended focus will carry over to more “academic pursuits” as they get older. I have found that the home Montessori environment differs greatly from a classroom setting, but a young child is still attracted to the practical life materials. You can find some of our past practical life activities here, here and here.

In the spirit of the practical life curriculum, I have found and reviewed the following two books. Both of these stories will resonate with the young child as they struggle to find their place in the world.

Ages 2 and up
Nakawaki, Hatsue. Wait! Wait! Ills. By Komako Sakai. Enchanted Lion Books: New York, 2013.
This sweet book follows a young toddler girl who desperately wants to interact with a butterfly, a chicken, and a skink. Unfortunately, as is the way of toddlers, the animals all get away from her since her actions she scare them. The very short words emphasize the concept of “waiting” and observing. A great story for youngsters, but an even better story to begin a discussion with preschoolers about the powers of silent observation and self-control.

Ages 2.5 and above
Raschka, Chris. Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle. Schwartz & Wade Books: New York, 2013.
This two-time Calecott Medal winning artist brings his style to a new book for kids who may be a little apprehensive about riding a bike. His paintings are a bit abstract, but the premise is clear. A little girl wants to learn to ride her bike, and so she progresses from using training wheels to lifting them “up a smidge,” and then taking them off and falling down. The short and encouraging words show that the girl is determined to learn how to ride a bike. My favorite page shows the little girl falling and having to “find the courage to try it again, and again, and again…” Short and simple and perfect for young listeners.

New Books Added – 4/8/2016
Ages 2.5 and up
Carluccio, Maria. I’m 3! Look What I Can Do. Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt & Company: New York, 2010.

This isn’t really a story, but rather a listing of all the things various 3-year-olds can do. “I can sleep in my bed. I can eat with my fork and spoon, and I can drink from a cup.” The simple painted pictures show various 3-year-olds accomplishing these tasks. Obviously, each child will reach these milestones at different times, so be cautious if you have some sensitive children who are concerned that they can’t put on their own pajamas yet. Otherwise, this book will offer confidence to those children who are excited that they can “hang up their coat,” but might still need some help trying new foods.