What makes a children's book Montessori-aligned?
Updated: Oct 27, 2021
During my AMI trainings for both 0-3 years and 3-6 years, all my trainers emphasized the importance of selecting children’s books that are realistic in nature. While we may think that books with fairies, superheroes, talking animals, pigs that drive cars can foster imagination in young children, the fact is that these young children are unable to distinguish reality from fantasy. They are still trying to make sense of the world around them through concrete experiences. These adult-created characters are not grounded in reality, thereby making it hard for young children to relate to them.
When I heard this for the first time 8 years ago, it was eye-opening to me and since then when I select books be it for my own child or other children, this aspect has been my priority. It's not that I’m against fantasy. However, I do believe that it’s important that that we focus more on reality vs. fantasy for young children at least those aged 0-3 years. For some young children, introducing adult-created fantasy elements can be scary.
Research today says that children as young as 4 years can distinguish between reality and fantasy and as parents you know your child and their interests better. As always, follow your child when choosing books. ❤
Below are some of the key elements that make a children’s book Montessori-friendly. I've also highlighted some Montessori-aligned books that we've enjoyed reading.
1. Based in reality
The Montessori philosophy is that a child from birth to ~6 years has an absorbent mind and understands the world around them through real-life experiences (concrete) instead of fantasy (abstract) such as fairies, superheroes, talking animals, pigs that drive cars that don’t exist in reality.
Books based in reality include but not limited to visiting a market, visiting grandparents, going to a farm, seasons.
2. Realistic pictures
Books with realistic photos that young children see in the world around them are much relatable.
3. Realistic illustrations
Beautiful and realistic illustrations provide exposure to different art styles and allow young children to appreciate the beauty of artwork from a very age.
The number of words and print length of the book needs to be age appropriate. Considering the attention span of babies, introduce books with a few simple words in a page and less pages, and gradually progress towards simple sentences with rich language for toddlers and more complex sentences for older children.
Books with rhythmic text, poetry books and wordless books appeal to children of this age.
5. Type of book
The type of book depends on the age of the child. Board books are suitable for babies who explore books through their hands and mouth. These books are durable for toddlers as well. Other age-appropriate book types include those that have touch-and-feel elements, lift the flaps, finger puppet, pop-ups, to name a few.
Paperbacks are appropriate for older children who have learnt to handle books with care.
Books that honor different cultures, families, races, abilities, are important to raise responsible children who embrace the diversity around them from a very young age.
Also check out this post for more baby friendly books.
It is important to select a book that we’d enjoy reading it aloud to our children for the zillionth time. Because when we enjoy reading the book, our children would enjoy it too, thereby fostering the love for reading. Please remember that reading should be a pleasurable experience to both the child and the adult alike.
Which aspect did you find interesting? What do you look for in a book when you choose a children’s book for 0-6 years? I’d love to hear in the comments! Follow the conversation on Instagram.