Reading is one of the best things you can do for the development of your child.
There are numerous benefits other than language development and enrichment of vocabulary. Reading with the toddlers helps to improve their cognitive capacity, it encourages imagination and empathy and strengthens the relationship between the child and the parent.
That’s why it’s very important to provide your little one with quality books as early as they start noticing the world around them.
(If you’re here just for the book recommendations, jump right to our list).
How to pick a Montessori-friendly book?
When it comes to books, the Montessori approach has a simple goal – to spark a love of reading in a child’s life. How? By picking the right books and reading to the kids regularly.
We are people of habit. If you expose your child to literature at an early age, it is highly probable they will enjoy reading books later in their life.
Here are 3 essential aspects of a Montessori-friendly book:
1. Montessori-friendly books are realistic
The Montessori philosophy is known for preferring real-life objects rather than fantasy. Toddlers love reading about things from the world around them. Look for books that are about things and experiences they know.
It doesn’t mean all the illustrations must be photo-realistic. But it’s always better to pick a book about wildlife animals rather than a book about unicorns.
Note: The same applies to Montessori toys. Check out our big list of Montessori toys for toddlers to find some examples.
2. Montessori-friendly books are not overwhelming
Sometimes, books for children are too complicated and chaotic even for an adult. We believe the key is simplicity and clarity. The child should understand what’s going on in the book.
That being said, don’t be afraid of picking a book slightly more advanced for a child (they often understand much more than we think). If the book keeps their attention, it is appropriate.
3. Montessori-friendly books are beautiful
Books on a Montessori bookshelf should be beautiful – both in terms of the language and the illustrations.
Unfortunately, many children’s books are not that great. The illustrations look like they were made 10 minutes before the publication. The verses that are supposed to rhyme don’t rhyme (this is especially a problem if a book is translated from a foreign language). Maybe they think they can “get away” with it with children’s books.
How to fight it?
Pay attention to the quality of books you buy for your children. Read the text of the board book in the bookshop before the purchase. Look at the reviews or listen to the live reading of the book online.
Note: This does not mean that you shouldn’t use old or second-hand books. We have plenty of books from our childhood that are far from being in a good state but they have beautiful stories and our daughter loves them.
Tips on how to read to your toddler:
- Read with the child, not just to the child – read actively, discuss the book, ask open-ended questions
- Explain the context – compare what happens in the book to your real-world experience
- Read books that are slightly more advanced – toddlers tend to have a larger passive vocabulary than we think
- Read expressively – use different voices for different characters, raise or lower your voice when appropriate
- Read whenever you can – don’t make reading only a bedtime activity; reading during the day is great too!
- Invest some time into picking quality books – well, you’re here, just continue reading… 🙂
Books for toddlers we recommend
Here’s a list of books we highly recommend for every Montessori parent of a little curious reader.
Besides the short description of the book, we included the video previews we found on YouTube to help you get a better idea of what the book looks like.
If there are other great Montessori-friendly books by the same author (which is often the case), we added links to them below the video.
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes has quickly become a modern classic. A simple rhyming text and gentle illustrations have a beautiful message: No matter where we come from or what color we are, we are all human beings with the same value.
Before After is a unique book that is loved by both children and adults. It consists of before and after pairs of illustrations that depict the obvious (or less obvious) connections between the objects. There are no words in the book but you can talk about it a lot with your little philosopher!
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle should not be missing on any child’s bookshelf. The illustrations from the life of a caterpillar and educational content (colors, counting, days of the week) make it a perfect Montessori-friendly book for any toddler.
One Gorilla: A Counting Book
One Gorilla is a georgeous counting book that features simple, realistic (yet very artistic and aesthetically pleasing) illutrations of various primates.
All Around Bustletown series
All Around Bustletown series is really unique. No matter how many times you read the books, the detailed drawings of a busy day in a little town will always surprise you with new stories. Perfect for building new vocabulary.
Baby’s First Book of Birds & Colors
Baby’s First Book of Birds & Colors is a perfect Montessori book. It teaches colors by introducing the child to various kinds of beautifully illustrated birds with their full names.
Similar book focused on flowers and colors: Planting a Rainbow
Where do I sleep? (A Pacific Northwest Lullaby)
Where do I sleep? is a beautiful field guide to the animals of the Pacific Northwest and their sleeping habits accompanied by melodic verses that can serve as a perfect lullaby for your little one.
(Don’t get confused by the paperback version having a different cover than the board book. Other than that, they are the same.)
What are your favorite Montessori-friendly books for toddlers?