A common question of Montessori parents is … what to do about books? Should you have only Montessori-friendly books? And what are Montessori-friendly books anyway? Should you focus on Montessori-friendly books for babies and young toddlers only? Do you need Montessori-friendly books for a 2 year old child or a preschooler? What about the fantasy characters and stories your child will encounter almost everywhere? Eek!
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I consider myself a progressive Montessorian, so I won’t be speaking from a purist point of view. I do love the simplicity and beauty of many purist ideas, and I use many of them in their pure form, too. But with books, I’m definitely a progressive Montessorian. I’m a real book lover and can’t stand the thought of not exposing young children to the awesome children’s classics, even if those books have fantasy.
But I find Montessori principles about Montessori-friendly books very helpful in deciding when and how to introduce fantasy. In general, Montessori-friendly books have realistic images. The books might have real pictures or drawings, but they don’t have fantasy or smiling or talking animals. Babies and young toddlers are learning about their world, so it’s most helpful for their books to show reality. This is a good rule to follow for most books until children are 3 years old. (Some Montessorians would suggest no fantasy until age 6).
How strictly Montessori friendly is interpreted affects a parent’s approach to fiction as well as non-fiction books. I consider realistic fiction Montessori friendly although some purists would only allow realistic non-fiction books.
I believe that the age you decide on for introducing fantasy will be best determined by your unique child. My 2-year-old granddaughter, Zoey, has a good sense of humor and good understanding of fantasy versus reality for her age, so I’ve introduced some books with fantasy (more about that later). The majority of her books, though, are Montessori friendly. Here are some of our favorite Montessori-friendly books for a 2 year old.
Favorite Montessori-Friendly Books for a 2 Year Old
There’s a whole series of First Discovery books on a wide variety of non-fiction topics. Zoey has loved these since she was a young toddler. Just read parts of each page according to your 2 year old’s attention span and understanding of the concepts.
National Geographic books are hard to beat for beautiful photography. The National Geographic Kids Look & Learn books are board books … beautiful board books. They’re recommended for ages 2-5, although I like them best for toddlers and 2 year olds. You can get these for a variety of concepts, although I wouldn’t get the whole set for a 2 year old … maybe just a few concepts your 2 year old needs to focus on. For a young toddler, they’re all fabulous. I have a lot of them for Zoey from when she was a young toddler. She still loves them all.
There’s also a whole series of awesome National Geographic Little Kids First Big Books. These aren’t really meant for 2 year olds. The recommended age is 4-8, but I think this is a series that can grow with your child. For 2 year olds, just read parts of each page unless you child wants more. As always, just observe and follow your child.
This is a nice introduction to letter sounds. Be sure to read the blog post and watch the video at “How to Teach Phonics with Montessori Letter Work” for important information on how to use this book.
The I Spy series of art books by Lucy Micklethwait is my favorite way to introduce art to 2 year olds. It’s great for preschoolers, too!
Of course, 2 year olds need realistic books to help them deal with important events in their lives, like toilet learning. I prefer to get toilet learning books that have realistic images whenever possible. A book like Everyone Poops is very popular with most 2 year olds and helps them feel more comfortable with the toilet learning process.
For Montessori-friendly fiction for 2 year olds, I look for books that could be real. I like classic books like the Madeline series by Ludwig Bemelmans. This series can even include a bit of counting and geography!
One of the best fiction books for 2 year olds is The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats … a lovely winter story about a boy who’s African American.
Another favorite classic for a 2 year old (or any preschooler) is Blueberries for Sal.
Many of the Montessori-friendly books for babies will still be loved by a 2 year old.
And don’t forget about the very best Montessori-friendly books for babies and toddlers, including 2 year olds!
Not Considered Montessori Friendly but Some of Our Favorites (and How I Introduce Fantasy to a 2 Year Old)
If you feel your 2 year old is ready to be introduced to the difference between reality and fantasy, there are some AWESOME books for introducing fantasy. A few of Zoey’s favorite books are the Pete the Cat books, The Diggingest Dog, and the Raffi Songs to Read book. In a book like Down By the Bay, I’ll simply say that a whale with a polka-dot tail is silly. I also do that for images like the cow jumping over the moon in Goodnight Moon.
More Montessori-Inspired Book Ideas
Don’t forget to show your 2 year old how to take care of books!
This post is part of the 12 Months of Montessori Series!
12 Months of Montessori Series – Favorite Books
The Best Montessori Friendly Books: Babies, Toddlers, Preschoolers, Elementary | Natural Beach Living
Montessori-Friendly Living Books Library | The Natural Homeschool
Favorite Montessori-Friendly Books for a 2 Year Old | Living Montessori Now
10 Ways To Make Your Kids Crazy About Reading | Planting Peas
Montessori Friendly Books — Birth to Six | The Kavanaugh Report
Engaging Books for Preschoolers | Mama’s Happy Hive
Montessori Books for Older Children: The Universe Story Trilogy | The Pinay Homeschooler
Children’s Books About Birds | Every Star is Different
Favorite Montessori Resources | Grace and Green Pastures
Our Favorite Montessori Inspired Books for Babies to Preschoolers | Christian Montessori Network
Do you have a favorite book or book series for 2 year olds?
Learn more about Montessori at Home or School: How to Teach Grace and Courtesy!
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