Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My favorite cartoon

Cartoons are not very Montessori. In fact, they aren't Montessori at all. But this blog is called Real Life Montessori and, well, in real life I watch cartoons and so does Ryann.

My very favorite kids' show is the UK cartoon, Charlie and Lola. I love it so much, I will voluntarily watch it without children present. It's just that cute. Charlie is the older brother of 4-5 year old Lola and the series features all their everyday interactions in the most endearing ways. Lola is every young child you've ever known, to a tee! And Charlie is both patient and annoyed with his little sister. The show doesn't talk down to its audience and it doesn't sugar-coat or promote inappropriate behavior. It doesn't portray gender stereotypes or try to take on too much substance. It's just... perfect.

Like almost all good kid shows, Charlie and Lola is based on a series of books. According to Wikipedia, there are three original books and the rest are based off the show. I had never even seen any of these books until we went to the library yesterday and I have to say I'm just as in love!

We picked up I Am Too Absolutely Small for School yesterday. Ryann starts Montessori school in a little over a month and she has expressed that she is, in fact, not big enough for school so it was perfect! The book follows Lola's insistence that she is not ready for school, Charlie's insistence that she will want to learn all the new things things there and finally the culmination of the first day where none of Lola's fears come true. A perfect, honest story. Ryann loves it in the way only someone trying to piece together the same puzzle can and has already had me read it about five times in the short time we've had it (the other books we picked out are getting no love).

I've been thinking a lot about how Montessori didn't believe in reading fantasy books to young children since they have no way to sort fantasy from reality. I look at Ryann's books and so few of them are completely real. I wonder what a Montessori bookshelf looks like. I'm not sure Charlie and Lola would be on it. But while they are cartoons, but they are at least human cartoons with real human problems. And I think that's what I like the series so much, it is so relatable even to the youngest of kids where other cartoons are just flashy and nonsensical. 


  1. OMG, I would totally read those books to my students! As a matter of fact, I just bookmarked your link. :)

    Fantasy refers to talking animals, flying fairies, and sponges with square pants. ;) Dr. Montessori discouraged fantasy primarily because adults used it to manipulate children into doing what they (the adults) wanted (i.e. If you don't shut up and go to bed the boogey man is going to get you), and also because children became confused about the world around them.

    Two cartoon children having real experiences and reacting in real ways is definitely something that will help children come to terms with new experiences.

    I've been thinking of writing a post on fantasy now that I'm delving into more of Montessori's theory. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. I look forward to that post!

    Ryann's big thing right now is trying to identify fantasy, as in: "Dogs can't talk!" But you can see her still having a hard time with it as sometimes this is followed by, "Can they?" It must be so confusing! It seems like all kids books and shows feature some really fantastical elements. Charlie and Lola does to a certain extent, but only when acting out the kids' play and it's usually fairly obvious they are playing/pretending (and I assume mostly a factor in the show, not the books).

  3. My daughter is in exactly the same position. She is starting Montessori school in september too but she is completely opposite. She can't wait, she talks about it all of the time and points out the school when we drive past : ) Hope it's all she thinks it will be!
    As for fantasty that is a tricky one. At first I tried to keep it "real" with my daughter but I realised pretty early that she could tell the difference between our real dog and a talking one in a book. It's really next to impossible to not get books with talking animals. I also want my daughter to grow up with some magic and makebelieve in her life so I'm taking the middle ground. Thanks for the post.

  4. Ryann was the same way after we went to the open house at her school. The mere mention of homeschooling set her off on how she was definitely going to school. But that was months ago and I think she's forgotten how much fun she had there! I'm sure your daughter will maintain her enthusiasm once school starts! How lucky that you won't have to worry about any tears on the first day!