Monday, August 13, 2012

Board Books for a Montessori Household

   The majority of responses I received in response to my previous post about reading to a toddler with Dr. Montessori's ideas in mind focused on finding board books or other books aimed at younger readers that are not overtly fantastical. Board books with singing dogs, dancing zebras, and all of Dr. Seuss's creatures abound.  There is certainly nothing wrong with these books!  Q-ball loves many of these books.  However, it is true that they do not meet Dr. Montessori's recommendations.  
   I wanted to try to find books that were easily available to parents working to create a Montessori environment, so during our regular trips to the public library, I took note of books that I believe meet Dr. Montessori's intentions.  Also of important note, Q-ball gives all of these books 2 thumbs way up!  
   Here are some books to look for:
  1. Books by Helen Oxenbury, specifically I See, I Can, I Hear.  These books are incredibly simple, single word books with beautiful illustrations.  Q-ball loved practicing all of the actions in I Can.
  2. Books that demonstrate sign language.  It's actually quite amazing to watch how studiously Q-ball reads these books. She looks at the page for quite awhile, asks us to demonstrate, and then practices herself. We love Baby Signs and All Day Long.
  3. A special bedtime book.  One of my favorite findings in my first post was that reading should help foster a connection between caregiver and child.  And, what better time than bedtime?  We use I Love You Through and Through.  It is wonderful because it introduces simple vocabulary words while using repetition that toddlers love.  The illustrations are also simple and life-like.
  4. Everywhere Babies.  This might be my favorite book of all time!  It meets Dr. Montessori's goal of introducing all cultures, genders, lifestyles (grandparents raising baby, stay-at-home dads, city life, country life, etc.) and even sexual orientations. It also uses repetition and a sing-song quality to storytelling.  Q-ball loves being able recognize the activities in the pictures and check out the other babes.  And, as a parent, I love the warm-fuzzy the book provides.
  5. Does a Cow Say Boo?  Again, this books uses repetition and sing-song storytelling to introduce vocabulary that interests toddlers (animals!)  The children are from diverse backgrounds.  Most importantly, Q-ball has so much fun reading this book! I don't want to give away the book's exciting ending, but the final lines have become a favorite game in our household.
Reading about camping, while camping.
   Another critical aspect of a Montessori environment is practicing respect for materials. Allowing young children access to high-quality books with real pages is an excellent way to do this. For the lack of a better name, I call these "special event books."  I head to the library when we are planning an upcoming trip or activity so that Q-ball will be able to make connections between the books we read and what is going on in real life.  We loaded up on butterfly books before visiting the butterfly house, camping books before going camping, and, of course, potty books before introducing potty learning.   

As with most of my Montessori posts, I like to remind readers that I am not trained in the Montessori-method.  My findings here are based upon my personal research and experience in my home.  So, a true Montessorian might pooh-pooh some of these book suggestions, but these have worked for us!  I'd love to have your feedback!  Do you think these books meet Dr. Montessori's intent?  Do you have any other suggestions?

Linking up with Montessori Mondays!
Montessori Monday


  1. These are great! We really love Everywhere Babies, and I'm always looking for great bedtime books since we try to rotate new ones in every couple of weeks. I'm going to look for I Love You Through and Through this week for sure. It's not Montessori aligned, but my favorite in our bedtime stack right now is It's Time to Sleep My Love. Have you seen that one?

    I've been really upset because I thought the movers had misplaced all of my children's books, but I found them this week, so I'll be making a Montessori list of my own soon :)

  2. I keep forgetting I can't comment from mobile! I always leave the longest ones that way, too.

    Anyhow, this is a great list! I'm always looking for new bedtime books especially, since we switch those out every couple of weeks, so I'm going to check out I Love You Through and Through this week. My favorite bedtime book at the moment is not Montessori-aligned, but it's beautiful - It's Time to Sleep My Love. Have you seen that one? Any other bedtime books you suggest?

    I've been really sad because I thought the movers had misplaced all of my children's books, but I just found them the other day, so I hope to list my favorite board books soon, as I unpack them :)

  3. Sorry you keep losing your comments! I've tried a few things, but can't seem to overcome the problem...I haven't seen It's Time to Sleep My Love, but I certainly want to look into it now. Daddy actually controls bedtime reading in our house (and then Q, quickly kicks him out...), so I need to suggest to him that we are in need of some rotation. I'll let you know if we stumble upon something else good!
    I would be so upset if any of our books were lost! We've got a lot...children's and adults. I moved around a lot growing up, and my mother still talks about the things we lost. You never forget!

  4. What a great post! I love, love, love children's books, and it's great for parents to be aware of what Dr. Montessori recommended for very young children. While my kids loved Dr. Seuss books and many other fantastical books, the books with clear and realistic photographs and illustrations were always some of their favorites as toddlers. Thanks so much for linking up with Montessori Monday. I featured your post at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page and pinned it to my Toddlers Activities and Ideas Board at

  5. INCREDIBLE THINKING!! You did really making sense. My little
    like different things to
    do and I think this will be enjoyable for me also when I'll see she is making


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