"Another pair of sturdy board books, also from Abrams Appleseed, encourage very young children to begin learning their numbers and letters in a tactile and pleasantly reinforceable way. "Montessori Letter Work" and "Montessori Number Work" (24 pages, $9.95 each) are longer than they are wide, which makes them easy to hold yet relatively large when they are opened."
"Devised by Bobby and June George, who run a Montessori school in South Dakota, each book presents its material according to the idea that children learn better when they begin with the concrete and move to the abstract. For numbers, this might mean seeing what a quartet of cats looks like before trying to master the symbol "4." With each number from 1 through 10 presented here, children first see a grouping of objects and then, having turned the page, are asked to trace the corresponding number, which has been printed with a roughened surface. The letters book is especially good, presenting the alphabet not in conventional order but ordered by the motions a child will make to write the letter, along with its sound. It begins with circular shapes: "This is 'guh,' as in goat." Next comes "qwuh," as in quail, followed by "aeh" as in ant. The combination of phonetics and simple retro illustration makes for an excellent entree into pre-literacy."
For those interested, we also wrote up a brief explanation of the inception of the books, and a little video tutorial on how to pronounce the sounds of the letters. Take a look.