(Photo via Flickr CC)
Our little family of three recently came back from a month-long trip to España, my husband’s home country. Friends in the States often ask us, “what are you allowed to bring back?” or comment, “I bet you did a lot of great shopping!”
On past trips, D. and I have brought home wine, vermouth, and other alcoholic drinks that are much cheaper in Spain than in the States; we’ve also saved room for chuches (Spanish gummy candy that I’m addicted to), and sometimes vacuum-sealed cheese. This time, however, being E.’s first trip there, I held off on the candy and cheese (oh, don’t worry, we saved room for el vino!), and instead made room for books in Spanish for E.
A few readers have asked me for book recommendations, so I thought I’d share what I looked for when selecting books to purchase for a toddler.
1. Board books – At 21 months, E. continues to experiment and learn about her surroundings through her mouth, as well as through throwing and tossing. With that in mind, I thought it best to stick with hardback and board books and to hold off on thin paperbacks. While baby board books (in my experience) have usually cost me less than paperbacks in the States, I found that board books were several Euros more than their thinner counterparts. But, I was willing to pay a little bit more knowing that these books would last longer – hopefully for future children.
(Well, ALL of the books listed in this post are board books!)
Sígueme ABC (bilingual English/Spanish book for tracing the letters of the alphabet)
(Exploring in the sand/dirt pit at our neighborhood park)
2. The natural world – I make it a priority to take E. outside – to the park, on walks, up and down the street – at least twice a day. I’m a big believer in children learning in and through nature (yes, this can be done even living in a bit city like we do!). Thus, to help her make connections between the natural world and the ideas on the pages of the books we read at home, I chose several books about nature.
El Pequeño libro de las estaciones (About the four seasons)
El Cuerpo Humano (The human body)
(E., helping me make bread: a weekly routine)
3. Reflect practical, real life skills – According to Montessori, children ages 16 months to about three years old are in what is called a “sensitive period” for learning practical life skills, things like cleaning, setting the table, preparing food, learning to get dressed, etc. So, in order to help E. process and talk about the habits she is forming at home now, I chose books that reflect these practical life skills.
Another reason I purchased books grounded in reality (vs. say about imaginary animals or fairy tales) is because, according to Montessori, children under the age of six are in what’s called the “…first plane of development, [and are therefore]… grounded in concrete reality. Their ability to discern what is real and what is not real is not yet in place….Montessori discouraged the use of fantastical play and images until the after reality is established and the child enters into the second plane of development and is capable of more abstract thought.” (Source here)
Álex ayuda a hacer la cena (Alex helps make dinner)
El pequeño libro de la ropa (About clothing)
From the series “Coco y Tula: buenos hábitos”
(E. and papá, in her reading corner)
4. Professional Development for me – While providing our children with age-appropriate books and toys that stimulate the imagination are important, even more important to their healthy growth is a strong bond to their parents, to parents who are thoughtful and conscientious about the parenting choices they make. When all is said and done, our children need US! So, as E’s first teacher, I want to make sure that I’m providing for my own growth as a new parent. If you’ve been following this blog since last spring, then you may know that D. and I are just beginning our journey with Montessori. To help us learn more about this way of life (because it really is more than just a type of education), I purchased Jugar y aprender con el método Montessori by Lesley Britton (originally written in English). Why read it in Spanish? Because that’s the language that D. and I use with E.; we want to have the correct parenting vocabulary to guide our interactions with her. (Please stay tuned to upcoming blog posts on what Montessori looks like in our home.)
How do you choose books for your children? Do you purchase or borrow them from the library? Is there a thing as “too many books?” I’d love to hear your thoughts!