In our home we tend to stick to five principles of Montessori Appropriate fiction, you can read more about them here, this can be tricky because Alfie LOVES animals and finding realistic animal fiction is tough.
I’ve divided this list in two the first section features books with nothing unrealistic in terms of behaviour or ability, the second has some very mild fantasy.
I’m happy to include some fantasy (Alfie is 3.5y) because this is a home not a school! Alfie spends so much time with real animals he knows the limits of their abilities. Likewise he can ‘read’ animal behaviours so knows they can think and have feelings eg “The doggies likes the ball” or “the cow got a big fright.” Therefore I’m happy to have animals narrate stories or speak simple but believable sentences.
Completely Realistic Fiction
All the books in this section feature main characters who are animals and behave exactly as animals should. They don’t talk, narrate the story, wear clothes or have any fancy powers.
Max by Marc Martin – a simple story about a sea gull who visiting a seaside chip shop
The Secret Life of The Red Fox by Laurence Pringle – a stunningly illustrated biographical story about a year in the life of a vixen.
Hello Horse by Vivian French – one of Alfie’s (and my) favourite books, a little boy learns to ride.
The River by Hanako Clulow – a rhyming story about a fish’s journey to the sea
Archie Snufflekins Cat by Katie Harlow– a funny glimpse at the life of one street’s most popular cat.
La Primavera Ya Estaba Aqui (Spring is Here) – a squirrel and the other woodland animals are delighted to discover the changes that spring brings
When Charley Met Grandpa by Amy Hest – one of my favourite illustrators fills this cute story of a boy introducing his puppy to his grandad with the most gorgeous pictures.
Shoo by Lynley Dodd – the entire Hairy Maclary series is amazing, it really needs to be on your shelf. Rhyming stories about a mischievous and adventurous dog.
Mostly Realistic Fiction
In these books the animals behave exactly as animals should but there is a small amount of dialogue or a slightly human thought processes in the case of animal narrators.
Augustus and His Smile by Catherine Rayner – one of the most beautifully illustrated books ever seen, I’d love to frame some of the pictures. A tiger walks through the jungle and tries to be happy, a sweet message too.
Cat In A Box by Jo Williamson – a cat narrates this amusing day-in-the-life story
The Greedy Goat by Petr Horacek – not my favourite but Alfie got a great laugh out of all the things the goat eats, some animals talking.
Soon by Timothy Knapman – oh how I love this! A baby elephant and his Mummy go for a walk through the jungle, entirely realistic but for very small amount of elephant dialogue.
Marcel by Edna Akaltun – a French bull dog narrates how he feels when his human finds a new boyfriend.
These books have brought so much joy to our home. I’ve been careful to only include books that are well written with believable stories. I hope your family enjoys them as much as mine.