If you're wondering “what is montessori?” If it's right for your family, especially for your baby or toddler, or if you should pursue a Montessori teacher training then you'll love this list! I'm sharing the most beloved and best Montessori books for parents and teachers. These are the perfect mix of introductory montessori books for new parents, history and evidence based books for skeptics, and of course, books by Maria Montessori herself!
My personal favorites are starred*
- Best Montessori Books For Parents + Teachers
- How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin*
- Montessori from the Start by Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen*
- The Montessori Toddler by Simone Davies [+ The Montessori Baby]*
- Understanding the Human Being: Importance of the First Three Years of Life by Silvana Montanaro*
- Montessori: A Modern Approach by Paula Polk Lillard
- Montessori Madness! A Parent to Parent Argument for Montessori Education by Trevor Eissler
- Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius by Angeline Stoll Lillard
- Teach Me To Do It Myself: Montessori Activities For You and Your Child by Maja Pitamic*
- Nurturing the Spirit by Aline D. Wolf
- Teaching Montessori in the Home: Pre-School Years by Elizabeth G. Hainstock + Lee Havis
- Montessori Read & Write: A Parents' Guide to Literacy for Children by Lynne Lawrence
- Montessori Play And Learn: A Parent’s Guide to Purposeful Play from Two to Six by Lesley Britton*
- Basic Montessori: Learning Activities For Under-Fives by David Gettman
- Books by Maria Montessori
- The Absorbent Mind by Maria Montessori*
- The Secret of Childhood by Maria Montessori*
- The Discovery of the Child by Maria Montessori
- The 1946 London Lectures by Maria Montessori
- American Montessori Society Article PDFs
- About Child Development (Physical, Emotional)
- About Transitions
- About Montessori at Home/Parenting
- About Montessori Principles/Classrooms
How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin*
Seldin is the President of the Montessori Foundation and this book is considered one of the best, if not the best, Montessori books for parents looking to practice a montessori philosophy at home.
It’s an updated view of Dr. Montessori’s findings to include advice on digital media, coparenting, positive discipline and the neuroscience of childhood development that supports Maria Montessori’s observations.
Plus it's packed with Montessori inspired preschool activities and educational games that foster independence and confidence in children.
Why you’ll love it: Easy to read introduction to Montessori with actionable tips for applying montessori at home, from evaluating toys to activities and checklists from birth to age six.
Montessori from the Start by Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen*
If you’re looking for an introductory SparkNotes version of Maria Montessori’s work from birth to 3 years old, then Montessori From The Start is your answer!
It’s MUCH easier to read than Dr. Montessori’s actual work and will help new montessori parents understand what Dr. Montessori intended and advised for raising infants. However it's noteworthy this is more of an introductory book; it doesn't go into the actual research or science behind the Montessori approach.
New parents will love learning about their children’s montessori at home tips like designing a baby's bedroom, how to select child sized furniture. Plus the authors walk you through Montessori sensitive periods and provide activities for practical life skills ranging from dressing themselves to meal preparation to toilet learning.
Why you’ll love it: An introductory cheat sheet to the first 3 years of your child’s life including tips for navigating Montessori’s sensitive periods full of encouragement and real life stories to leave you feeling motivated and inspired! If you’re pregnant or a new parent wondering “what do I do now?” This books will give you all the next steps for raising calm, confident, responsible, and independent children. Oh and there’s loads of pictures and infographics for visual learners!
The Montessori Toddler by Simone Davies [+ The Montessori Baby]*
Probably one of the most well known Montessori at home book is The Montessori Toddler by Simone Davis who recently released the much anticipated prequel, The Montessori Baby, in May of 2021 as well!
Davies books are more recently written then most of the others on this list, providing a modern viewpoint that’s clear, succinct, and very practical for implementing at home.
She doesn’t go too much into the background of Montessori, including the neuroscience or findings that have informed the advice though. Instead, she keeps it to exactly what new parents in a time crunch want to know for implementing quickly, like “how to set up a Montessori at home activity,” but doesn’t go into why we set up montessori activities like this.
Davies herself is a Montessori teacher, whose children have gone through Montessori schools as well. She over the years she has really gotten to talk with and read SO many montessori parents questions that have informed the advice she gives and it shows. And yes, this includes the frustrations that both the child and adult face during these years.
In other words: she knows what new Montessori parents want to know, and answers quicly, clearly, and practically.
Both books are beautifully laid out with graphics, pictures, routines, and options for customizing her tips to meet your unique situation. I personally love Davies' approach to “well this is one way, but I’ve also heard it done like this.” She stays grounded in Montessori’s philosophy, while making things accessible to potentially overwhelmed parents.
Why you’ll love it: Clear, succinct, practical and actionable advice for modern times with infographics, routines, and activities laid out by child development stages during the toddler period in this book and the infant period in this book.
Understanding the Human Being: Importance of the First Three Years of Life by Silvana Montanaro*
I LOVE this as a montessori parenting book! It gives in depth advice for the first few years of life ranging from more common topics like setting up a Montessori at home environment, but also lesser talked about topics like the role of the father. Dr. Montessori didn’t touch a TON on breastfeeding in her time, but she did talk about it briefly and this is one of the few books to actually talk about nursing and weaning, which I know a lot of Montessori mom’s ask about!
NOTEWORTHY: It's written by Silvana Montanaro, M.D. and director of the Assistant to Infancy Training Program at the Association Montessori Internationale, and fairly old – I would not recommend this as an introductory book to Montessori.
In my opinion, the Montessori approach truly encourages personal responsibility in parents and teachers first and foremost, as that's what needs to be modeled to the child to foster personal responsibility. This may feel like an easy concept to digest when thinking about getting dressed or toilet training; however becomes much harder for some parents to digest when thinking about complications in birth which this book touches on.
As I've said, there's a common misconception with Montessori that it's deeply rooted in realism; and it is… but it is also very spiritual (as MOST theories/philosophies of the late 1800s and early 1900s were); something that has been stripped out in lieu of wooden toys and core academics. This may feel jarring for those looking for a more modern evidence based perspective of the first 3 years of an infants life.
Why you’ll love it: looks beyond the child during 0-3 years old and at the whole family system.
Montessori: A Modern Approach by Paula Polk Lillard
This is a great introductory montessori book for teachers and parents. An easy to read look at the history and Montessori philosophy during modern times. Lillard looks at the benefits of the Montessori education and how Dr. Montessori’s work remains relevant.
NOTE: this is not your “how to guide” this is more of a “should we do this”
Why you'll love it: Answers the big question: Is montessori education right for my child/classroom? From the perspective of a teacher and parent.
Montessori Madness! A Parent to Parent Argument for Montessori Education by Trevor Eissler
Written by a Montessori parent himself, it provides an accessible and practical look at the Montessori Method from the parents perspective. What I particularly love about it, is the discussion on how our current/most common educational systems can be improved. Including a look at how our educational systems are headed in the wrong direction. A topic I find more relevant than ever right now.
Why you'll love it: A funny, motivational look at the current education system compared to the Montessori Method in the classroom. Check out his Montessori Youtube video.
Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius by Angeline Stoll Lillard
As a montessori child myself, and now montessori mom, I have first hand experienced the magic of Montessori’s methods. This book provides the actual science of Dr. Montessori’s methods, what happens in the Montessori classroom, and why it all works.
If you’re interested in understanding the long term benefits of a Montessori education than this is your read! The author is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia where she studies the role of Montessori education on social development and cognitive achievement.
Why you’ll love it: The perfect resource for any skeptics in your life questioning Montessori ways! This books shows how, despite Dr. Maria Montesori developing her philosophy and method over 100 years ago, it still holds up against modern day neuroscience and developmental psychology.
Teach Me To Do It Myself: Montessori Activities For You and Your Child by Maja Pitamic*
Fostering a sense of independence and responsibility in toddlers and young children are some of my favorite aspects of the Montessori philosophy. This montessori parenting book does a fantastic job breaking down how to help your child experience a sense of accomplishment and self worth as they develop self reliance and independence.
Full of illustrations and activities for hands on learning that foster growth and age appropriate development. The books activities are broken down by categorized skills that get progressively harder as you move on. There are no age recommendations as Montessori suggests following the child; so activities should be introduced when your child has an interest, not directed by the adult.
Why you’ll love it: One of the better montessori at home activities books, including instructions for parents or teachers on how to set them up, supply lists, and what the activity is actually teaching. I love that it reinforces fostering independence and encouraging parents to take a step back.
Nurturing the Spirit by Aline D. Wolf
“The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind.” – Education and Peace
I shared about this in the best Maria Montessori quotes post, but Dr. Maria Montessori believed the key to bringing about a “better world [is] by nurturing the spirit of the child.” Yet, so often, when we think of Montessori we think solely of core academics and not spirituality. In fact, there’s a common misconception because Montessori recommends no fantasy until the second plane, that spirituality and imagination do not coexist with Montessori, which isn’t the case at all.
Nurturing the Spirit in a Non-Sectarian look at Maria Montessori’s vision for a better world.
It combines Montessori’s ideas about a child’s spiritual needs with practical suggestions for deepening one’s own spirituality and sense of community (since again, children model the adults around them).
Why you'll love it: A look at Spirituality through the lense of Montessori, in both history and questions. Some of the authors points may be difficult to digest for those with strong ties to certain religions (e.g. educators should not rule out any spiritual phenomena, such as extrasensory perception [ESP]), but then again, Montessori is all about developing a lifelong love of learning (and that includes perspectives outside one's own), and generating an eternal curiosity. Montessori also believes in following the child, thus teachers and parents should be prepared for children to present view points outside their own, and encourage the child to follow their own interests.
Teaching Montessori in the Home: Pre-School Years by Elizabeth G. Hainstock + Lee Havis
If you’re considering homeschooling using a Montessori education, then this is a must read. It’s an early approach for setting up the Montessori at home environment, while providing introductory lessons on the pre-school years from ages two to five, including reading and writing, mathematics, sensory awareness, and practical life skills.
Why you'll love it: A beginner's guide to montessori school at home that's easy to read and a good place to start teaching young children.
Montessori Read & Write: A Parents' Guide to Literacy for Children by Lynne Lawrence
A great read for parents of 1 year olds or 2 year olds, but really is applicable through the entire absorbent mind stage. It provides tips and activities that can be done at home for teaching children about reading and writing.
Parents will love the colorful illustrated book complete tips on how to create an environment for language to flourish. Plus it provides scripts, reading lists, and resource lists for different languages and geographical regions. plus scripts for parents to dive deeper and begin implementing.
Why you'll love it: An easy to use book for parents and teachers with games and instructions, including what it teaches the child. Some of the activities require a few montessori materials, which you can buy or make most of them yourself.
Montessori Play And Learn: A Parent’s Guide to Purposeful Play from Two to Six by Lesley Britton*
For parents looking to implement montessori at home or supplement their child's preschool learning, this book will become a go-to resource!
It goes so much further than just setting up your home room by room. It also includes activities, games, and exercises for core subjects like language and reading, sensory development, science and nature, math, history, geography, and arts & crafts. Each activity is well explained including how it helps your child develop, what you'll need, and how to set it up.
There's also sections on things like exploring the neighborhood from the backyard, in the park, countryside, city, and school. Plus discovering the world, from family to the Universe.
Why you'll love it: One of the more thorough and well rounded activity books out there, teaching parents how to find activities and games all around them. Plus there are safety guidelines throughout.
Basic Montessori: Learning Activities For Under-Fives by David Gettman
This book is like the Cliffnotes for Montessori preschool. It opens with a look at Dr. Montessori's theories then moves into activities. The activities in this book are broken down into 5 sections: practical life, sensorial, language, math, and culture. Each section's activities really focus on traditional Montessori materials and lessons.
Why you'll love it: this is a great book for teachers considering an AMS or AMI training and looking to learn more about Montessori early childhood education. This is a great book for parents looking to set up a montessori at home preschool type of environment or understand what some of the materials in the classroom are.
Books by Maria Montessori
Dr. Maria Montessori left behind a slew of work that publishers have continued to put out and a good number of her lectures have been turned into books. You can see all the books by Maria Montessori here.
Dr. Montessori's books can be a bit denser to read. Not only is her work over 100 years old, it's been translated from Italian. Despite that, if you can take it a few pages at a time, I HIGHLY recommend reading these once you're ready to go deeper.
NOTE: Clio and Claremont are the two publishers generally preferred by AMI, AMS, MACTE (montessori teacher certification programs). The translation from other publishers isn't great. Sometimes some versions leave out portions of chapters or entire chapters according to reviews. With that said, most people don't know that, so unless you're doing a teacher training it shouldn't impact you too much. But definitely opt for those versions if you can find them.
Below is a list of some of the best books by Maria Montessori:
The Absorbent Mind by Maria Montessori*
The Absorbent Mind is probably her most beloved montessori book for teachers and parents.
It covers the span from birth through age 6(ish) and truly captures the magic that is this age both from a child-eyed wonder perspective, so full of possibilities, but also from an overall formative viewpoint.
She talks about the “Link Of Live” which is essentially a child’s love for parents or the caretakers in the home. Explaining just how they are absorbing everything; positive and negative.
This is EXACTLY what I always talk about and tell people about:
If you want to see how your internal world is doing, look at your child during this stage. They are mirroring and imitating everything, even the unspoken energy.
And this is exactly what will shape them as adults.
Moreover, it provides parents with a deeper understanding and relief at why their child does such seemingly odd things. It’s called horme, which is basically this innate compulsion in children to explore the world and themselves. This is why our kids will want to spend 10 hours outside at some point during the early years, or practice lifting themselves up 500 times in a single day. It’s truly fascinating, though a dense read.
Why parents will love this: While it’s a denser read, and some of the earlier books mentioned may be better introductory books, it really is FASCINATING! Especially for parents who already have an interest in psychology.
The Secret of Childhood by Maria Montessori*
“I have come to appreciate the fact that children have a deep sense of personal dignity” – Dr. Maria Montessori
While Maria Montessori’s work itself is a denser read than many of the other books on this list, there is something SO magical about her teachings in how she observes children that I’ve always had a deep appreciation for.
Sometimes it’s so easy to forget that our children are tiny humans. They have their own thoughts, frustrations, and motives. Too often in parenthood and teaching, adults belittle children without realizing, and feel like parenting is a constant power struggle…
This book encourages adults to pause and consider how they would feel if another adult treated them the way they treat the child.
For instance, she talks about teaching a lesson to children about how to blow their nose. The children clapped afterward! She reflected on the experience deeply, only to realize that many of those children’s parents pinned handkerchiefs to their children’s clothes, showing a lack of trust in the child’s ability. Personally, when I reflect on my own parenthood and times my toddler has pushed back on my requests (i.e. Let me change you into your pajamas), I’ve realized it’s very parallel to what Dr. Montessori reflected on. She was ready for more responsibility and pushing back, not in defiance or to “delay bedtime”, but as a request to respect her personal dignity.
Why you’ll love it: A unique perspective on children that is bound to shift your parenting or teaching approach for the better
The Discovery of the Child by Maria Montessori
Personally I prefer The Secret of Childhood by Maria Montessori, but wanted to include this on the list. It's a look at education from 3-6 years old, but also includes a chapter on religious education. For anyone who felt a little uncomfortable by the previous mentions of non-secular spirituality and is looking for a more traditional look at religion in the context of Montessori this may provide you with the insights you're looking for.
The 1946 London Lectures by Maria Montessori
Six years before her death, Dr. Montessori gave a series of lectures as part of a teacher training and this is a collection of those. It's a great montessori book for teachers AND for parents looking to understand human development.
Why you'll love it: Feel the magic of Maria Montessoriwhen reading and envisioning her delivering these lectures based off her lifelong work of traveling the world, hypothesizing, and exploring human development across cultures.
American Montessori Society Article PDFs
If you're looking for quicker reads, here's a round up of PDF articles for parents from AMS on various topics:
About Child Development (Physical, Emotional)
“Toileting for Toddlers.” Montessori Life, Fall 2019.
“Manners, Naturally.” Montessori Life, Summer 2018.
“Grace and Courtesy Beyond Please and Thank You.” Montessori Life, Spring 2016.
“The Age of Anxiety.” Montessori Life, Spring 2015.
“Creating Emotional Safety around Tantrums and Crying.” Montessori Life, Summer 2014.
“On the Topic of Toileting.” M: The Magazine for Montessori Families. March/April 2006.
“Please Stay … Here's Why.” Montessori Life, Fall 2018.
“There's No Such Thing as the Real World.” Montessori Life, Fall 2017.
“Separation: The Beginning of Letting Go.” Montessori Life, Fall 2014.
About Montessori at Home/Parenting
“The Magic of Montessori.” Montessori Life, Spring 2020.
“Keeping Everyone in the Loop.” Montessori Life, Winter 2020.
“Six Tips for Smooth Air Travel with Children.” Montessori Life, Summer 2019.
“It's Okay to Just Stay Home and Play.” Montessori Life, Winter 2019.
“Talking Respectfully to Your Children.” Montessori Life, Winter 2018.
“The Joy of Reading to Children.” Montessori Life, Summer 2017.
“Starting Each Day: Tips to Get out the Door on Time.” Montessori Life, Spring 2017.
“Today's Grandparents.” Montessori Life, Winter 2016 – 2017.
“An Interesting Mistake.” Montessori Life, Fall 2016.
“The Importance of Family Meals.” Montessori Life, Summer 2016.
“Throwback Parenting.” Montessori Life, Winter 2015 – 16.
“The Longest Runway.” Montessori Life, Fall 2015.
“Your Smartphone or Your Life.” Montessori Life, Spring 2014.
“Proactive Planning: One Parent’s Approach.” Montessori Life, Winter 2013 – 14.
“Bringing Montessori Home.” Montessori Life, Fall 2013.
About Montessori Principles/Classrooms
“What Your Child’s Teachers Would Like You to Know.” Montessori Life, Spring 2019.
“The Importance of a Simple Environment.” Montessori Life, Spring 2018.
“Polishing the Penny.” Montessori Life, Summer 2015.
“Why Montessori Education Is Priceless.” Montessori Life, Winter 2014 – 15.
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