According to the Montessori philosophy, should focus on reality. Maria Montessori believed that young children are still very much trying to figure out how the real world works and thus aren’t yet ready for fantasy developed by adults. That means no talking animals, no monsters, no super powers.
This rules out a lot of books, so what’s left?
There are also plenty of Montessori-friendly fiction books for young children, they just focus on things that could actually happen, versus fantasy.
Here are some of our favorites.
Full of simple, black and white images, this book folds out and stands up on its own so that baby can look at the pictures independently without an adult holding the book. My baby loved this book almost as soon as we brought him home from the hospital.
2. Art for Baby
Larger than most board books, this one features beautiful black and white images by well-known artists. High contrast images featuring black, white, and red, are easier for newborns to see and focus on while their eyes continue to develop.
Babies love looking at photographs of people, and especially of other babies. Global Babies is full of beautiful images of babies from around the world, and also has a lovely message of peace.
This is another great board book featuring lots of interesting photographs of babies.
5. I See
This book features realistic drawings of things a baby might see in his world. It has few words and is a good length for a young baby.
This is another great one by Helen Oxenbury and features images of babies from around the world and a simple rhythmic, rhyming story.
There are many books in this touch and feel series and each includes simple photographs with textured sections for baby to feel.
I admit these are not my favorite books to read as a parent, but babies love them and they are a great way to expand vocabulary. For this type of book, I look for options that do not have an overwhelming number of objects on each page.
9. Hands Can
This is a nice size for a board book and features beautiful images of all of the positive things we can use our hands for.
11. Big Red Barn
By the same author as Goodnight Moon, this classic tells a simple story about animals living on a farm.
18 Months-3 Years
This is a great example of fiction that does not involve fantasy. It is a simple story about something in a child’s life.
This book is fun and whimsical and has a repetitive, sing song style that really appeals to young children.
3. One Gorilla
This simple counting book is filled with beautiful, captivating images of different primates.
This is another great nature-based counting option.
This fun lift-the-flap book introduces the concept of opposites.
Many toddlers are fascinated with how the world works, including simple things like garbage trucks and construction. This book includes lots of fun sound words and explains how roads are built.
This beautiful book features photographs of homes from all over the world and includes simple text perfect for a toddler.
This is another great choice about different types of homes.
11. Shades of People
Displaying photographs of children from around the world, this book is a great way to start talking about diversity with a young child.
This is also a fun option for a book on diversity.
13. Whoever You Are
Winner of the Caldecott medal, They All Saw a Cat depicts the many perspectives through which animals and people view the world.
2. The Dot
Through a story about a boy and his grandmother taking the bus home, this book sends a beautiful message about what really matters in life.
The illustrations in this book are done with raised lines and its pages are filled with vivid descriptions of colors.
5. Before After
This funny, thought-provoking book leads young readers to think about the passage of time, while also captivating them with its striking images.
There is an entire series of Little House books, inspired by Laura Ingles Wilder’s classics, but tailored to younger audiences. These books help children imagine what it would be like to live in a different time.
This story follows two young pen pals as they discover all of the interesting things that are different in their respective worlds, and all of the fundamental things that are the same.
Against a backdrop of beautiful National Geographic photographs, the text of this book shares an important message of peace with children.
Both the images and the prose in this book ignite a curiosity about geography and the world.
Through including pictures and poems created by children around the world, this book really helps children relate to their global peers in a new way.
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