EARLY BOOK REVIEWS: Playhouse: Optimistic Stories of Real Hope for Families with Little Children

Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Indigo Books, and Waterstones. Ebook available on Amazon.

Book: Playhouse: Optimistic Stories of Real Hope for Families with Little Children
Author: Monica Taylor
Print: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Waterstones | Indigo Books | IndieBound (Local Bookstore)
Ebook: Amazon
ISBN: 978-1-942146-66-7

Book Reviews

“Incredible, utterly magical, Monica Taylor is making a huge difference in the world! “Playhouse: Optimistic Stories of Real Hope for Families with Little Children is a book for every parent who is considering a preschool for their child and also for parents of children who are attending preschool. Monica writes as a mother as well as a renowned researcher and educator. She is positively inspired. This a book the nation should read as we imagine a kinder, gentler and all inclusive society.” – Amazon (5-stars)

“Beautifully written, insightful, and truly hopeful. I love the way she weaves together the personal with narratives about progressive education. I felt like I both connected to it and learned from it! These are the kinds of books about parenting/education that I love!” – Amazon (5-stars)

“In a world where children’s play and exploration are sadly undervalued, Monica Taylor shows us a place where children’s autonomy and natural curiosity is nurtured. Drawing on her own experiences and those of her children, she invites ius nto the joyful rooms of Playhouse. Her book reveals how profoundly our children are impacted by their years of pre-school and how they shape us into the people we become.. An inspiring read!” – Amazon (5-stars)

“A very personal, heartfelt, and informed discussion of early childhood education.” – Amazon (5-stars)

“Playhouse is in part the inspiring portrait of  a real school with a particularly rich and powerful history and a tangible presence in a concrete time and a particular place—and it’s so much more. With an ethnographer’s eye and an oral historian’s ear, with the passion of a memoirist and the urgency of an advocate, Monica Taylor invites us into a community of children, reminding us that in our anxious, hurry-up world, the magic of a child’s growth is precious and cannot be forced. She evokes a perennial question, urgent for these modern times: how shall we respond to the dreams of youth? Her answer comes to life on every page.”– William Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, founder of the Small Schools Workshop and the Center for Youth and Society.

“Monica Taylor’s Playhouse is just what we need – a vivid picture of what good early childhood “schooling” looks like.  Here’s the alternative to prepping 4 year olds with “academics.” As she shows us, it is indeed possible to build on children’s incredible intellectual efforts to make sense of the world rather than stifling them.  Bravo, Monica!” –  Deborah Meier, Education reform leader, recipient of the 1987 MacArthur Fellowship Award for her work in public education.

“Monica Taylor writes a book that parents and educators (from preK through college levels) should read. As parents, they should look for an education setting that models the practices of Playhouse for their children. As educators, they should find ways to transform their teaching environment into a Playhouse.” – Amazon

Playhouse: Optimistic Stories of Real Hope for Families with Little Children

Pete Seeger once said: “The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.” In many ways, writing a book about my family’s experiences at Playhouse, a cooperative pre-school founded in 1951, is in fact telling an optimistic story that has the potential to inspire others, early childhood teachers and parents alike, to search for, create, or contribute to progressive learning environments for their own children and students.

Playhouse serves as more than just a school for children. It is a learning community for parents, where they can learn and embrace progressive models of education. This type of parental education is more important now than ever before, especially in the face of parental opt out movements and objections to standardized testing and curriculum like the common core standards.

Parents and early childhood teachers need to educate themselves about the tenets of democratic and progressive schooling, and there is very little written for them. Early childhood teachers often graduate with certification but are unsure of how to implement this progressive pedagogy in their classrooms or how even to find schools where these types of practices are encouraged. They may have been prepared to teach in a progressive way but are unsure of how to apply these ideas in the classroom with 15 or more little ones in front of them.

Finally, with the Core Curriculum Standards and their aligned standardized tests dictating the curriculum and teaching in public schools, parents and early childhood educators need a platform to innovate schools for their children/students. This optimistic telling serves as a reminder for us all that even in this tumultuous storm of standards and testing, progressive preschools with deep commitments to social justice exist, are thriving, and are available. 

About Monica Taylor

Monica Taylor is an urban teacher educator, social justice advocate, and parent activist. She is currently a professor and deputy chair of the Department of Secondary and Special Education at Montclair State University. Over the past 27 years, she has taught in an alternative middle school in NYC, worked with adolescent women Crips as they negotiated their multiple identities, parented two sons, and more recently co-led the math/science cohort of the Newark Montclair Urban Teacher Residency. She is co-PI of the Wipro Science Education Fellows grant which supports science teacher leaders in five districts in New Jersey.

She has several publications on teaching for social justice, urban teacher education, and the self-study of teacher education practices. Her most recent book, co-written with Emily J. Klein, is A year in the life of a third space urban teacher residency: Using inquiry to re-invent teacher education. Her commitments to social justice manifest in all aspects of her life. She advocates for her own children as well as New Jersey students as an organizer for Save Our Schools NJ. She also deeply values the work of the many teachers with whom she is in contact.

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