Montessori-Inspired Children’s Books Bring Montessori to Life
Many of you are familiar with Trevor Eissler and his mission to spread the word about the Montessori method. His endeavors include a book for parents called Montessori Madness! and a fantastic video explaining the differences between Montessori and traditional education.
Their first book, 4,962,571, is the story of a boy suddenly captivated by the idea of counting to a very large number. In their second book, That 17th Hat, children try on hats from many different countries after going into a hat store during a rainstorm.
In both books, attention is paid to details that make the Montessori connection clear: for example, 4,962,571 uses the Montessori color hierarchy for the decimal system, and That 17th Hat explores cultures around the world and features children learning from each other in a mixed-age group setting.
June Books is currently working on their third book, N is for North Korea, scheduled to debut this summer. You can purchase books at the June Books website and volume discount pricing is available for schools and other Montessori organizations.
Recently I was able to ask Trevor some questions about June Books. I was delighted to learn more about the story behind the stories.
Lori: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me! I’m curious, how did you come up with the idea of writing Montessori-inspired children’s books?
Trevor: Great to talk with you, too! My June Books partner, Bobby George, approached me with the idea of writing a children’s book. He talked me into it. In reading books to my children, I had come across some lousy ones. I figured I could write one at least as good as one of those! How hard could it be?
Following on the success of Montessori Madness! for adults, I was intrigued by the idea of reaching families in a slightly different way, but still with the goal of enticing them in to visit a Montessori classroom. Montessori education is such a powerful, transformative method of education, not only for the child, but for the family, that I wanted to make my efforts count not just in telling stories and selling books, but in raising Montessori awareness.
Lori: More specifically, where did you get the ideas for the three books you’ve written so far – 4,962,571, That 17th Hat, and N is for North Korea (due out this summer)?
Trevor: That is easy: from witnessing the serious work that children undertake in constructing themselves. I am awed by this. I wanted to write children’s books that honored the hard work, boldness, daring, adventurousness, and dedication that children apply to this most important of tasks.
Lori: What are you hoping to accomplish with your books?
Trevor: I hope our stories raise Montessori awareness and Montessori enrollment.
Lori: What kind of feedback have you received from parents and teachers?
Trevor: We have received great feedback and enthusiasm. This is the first set of children’s books designed specifically to spread Montessori awareness. Teachers and administrators are delighted to have more and varied resources for reaching prospective parents.
Now, we’re still waiting for feedback from the New York Times, CNN, NPR, the various book awards, and the President of the United States. But sometimes you need to be patient.
Lori: Hopefully mainstream media will give you some attention soon! What’s the hardest part of writing a book for children? What’s the best part?
Trevor: The writing is easy. It’s the sitting down to write that’s tough. Once the decision is made to do it, you just have to keep working on a piece of the puzzle every day, and eventually you’re cutting open the box from the printing company, lifting the flaps, and reaching down inside to pull out and hold in your hands the first copy of a book you’ve been thinking about and talking about and moving around, twisting, editing on your computer screen for a year. Oh, and that’s the best part, too.
Lori: Thank you so much for your time, Trevor! I really appreciate it.
Trevor: Thank you!
Trevor was kind enough to send me a copy of That 17th Hat for review. I promptly turned it over to the children’s book experts in my house (my kids) and asked them what they thought.
My daughter, 8: I think that it can really help kids because it tells kids about other places, and it’s a fun and cute story.
My son, 11: I think that it is a great book for younger children. The book has an interesting storyline. Even me, being someone who reads a lot, learned some new words while reading this book!
Personally, I appreciate the beautiful illustrations (so important for a story like this) and the respectful treatment of other cultures. Some of you out there have friends or relatives who don’t know anything about Montessori. Because of the format (a bright, engaging children’s book) as opposed to a scholarly journal, this kind of book would be a great way to introduce them to Montessori.