There are many incredible options out there if you want to read more about Montessori and early childhood development. Here are the seven best books on the magic of the first years of childhood, curated by the Monti Kids Learning Team.
These are Montessori classics that you will love, covering everything from how to incorporate Montessori in your home, to Montessori theory, to practical tips on raising a toddler.
Some are easy reads with modern language while some are more academic (and older!)
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Best Montessori books for interested parents and educators:
Titles and covers are linked to our affiliate, Amazon.com, for your convenience.
For practical tips on everyday Montessori parenting:
The Montessori Toddler by Simone Davies
This is an especially beloved title for Monti Kids because Simone visited our office in California and has shared her book with our customers and staff. It was published this in 2019 and provides a pragmatic and modern perspective on Montessori. It is full of practical tips, digestible Montessori theories, beautiful examples of Montessori environments around the world, and wonderful illustrations. Simone offers honesty on real-life experiences and the frustrations an adult or child might feel during the toddler years and how to respond to them.
For an inspiring introduction to Montessori:
The 1946 London Lectures by Maria Montessori
Refreshing and full of wisdom, this is an incredible collection of lectures that Dr. Montessori gave as part of her 1946 teacher training course in London, six years before her death. In these lectures, the reader can sense that Montessori has travelled the world and has observed, profoundly and scientifically, an immense amount about children. Maria Montessori speaks with the mature wisdom of a lifetime spent studying, not just early childhood, but human development as a whole: from infancy through adolescence. The impact of these lectures was so profound that they became the foundation of AMI's 3-6 courses. 1
For the data behind the magic:
Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius by Angeline Stoll Lillard
As teachers and parents, many of us have experienced the value of Montessori first-hand. This book proves the scientific validity of Dr. Montessori’s methods and provides a clear picture of what happens in a Montessori classroom, and why it works. This is a perfect read for those interested in learning why a Montessori education has long-lasting impacts on learning, emotional control, and executive functioning. Angeline Lillard is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, where she studies the impact of Montessori education on cognitive achievement and social development.
For Montessori theory and philosophy
The Absorbent Mind by Maria Montessori
This is a dense, theoretical, and profound read. We recommend reading it in small pieces, perhaps a page before bed at night, so that you can enjoy and absorb every bit. Based on lectures given by Dr. Montessori at Ahmedabad, The Absorbent Mind is an analysis of the physical and psychological aspects of a child’s growth during the most significant period of life. Dr. Montessori illustrates the unique mental powers of young children which enable them to construct and establish all the aspects of human personality.
For easy-to-read theory and guidance:
Montessori from the Start by Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen
Montessori from the Start discusses Montessori theory in an abridged and more digestible way than some of Dr. Montessori’s own work, while offering tips and ideas for preparing an environment and materials in the home. The authors provide guidance to parents for the establishment of a beautiful and serviceable environment that will aid in the development of focus and concentration. Taking into account the child’s ‘sensitive periods,’ they introduce concepts and activities for such skills as dressing, food preparation, and toilet training. Paula and Lynn Lillard co-founded a Montessori school for children from birth to eighth grade. They teach a workshop for parents on using Montessori methods with infants from birth to age three.
For the story of Maria Montessori’s life and work
Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work by E.M. Standing
Part biography and part exposition of her ideas, this engaging book by E.M. Standing, Maria Montessori’s closest collaborator, reveals the inspirations behind the greatest educational innovator of our time. This book provides a wonderful chronological perspective on her life and work.
For a broader perspective on the importance of play
Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World by Tony Wagner
Creating Innovators explores what parents, teachers, and employers must do to develop the capacities of young people to become innovators. In profiling compelling young innovators, the book reveals how the adults in their lives nurtured their creativity and sparked their imaginations, while teaching them to learn from failures and to persevere. From the research, a pattern emerges--a childhood of creative play leads to deep-seated passions, which in adolescence and adulthood blossom into a deeper purpose for career and life goals. Play, passion, and purpose: these are the forces that drive young innovators.