How to Set Up A Montessori Bookshelf

How to Set Up A Montessori Bookshelf

Independence is a wonderful thing to encourage in your little one, and there are so many ways you can provide opportunities for them to do things for themselves. Designing spaces that support a child's abilities can be as simple as making a bookshelf available at floor level so that even a crawling baby can reach a book on their own. See what's in our shop

What is a Montessori Bookshelf?

There isn't really such a thing as a Montessori bookshelf! The term Montessori gets thrown around or labeled on things that align with the Montessori philosophy. So the real question is what do we want out of a bookshelf? How do we make it developmentally appropriate for a curious little one?

There are two main features we want to offer our little ones in a bookshelf -- and you might find your own way to accomplish that!

  1. The height of the books is approachable for a baby or toddler
  2. The covers of the books are visible
montessori bookshelf
Source: Sprout Kids | Promo code for Monti Kids Customers: MONTIREAD

The tiered shelf shown above is a popular style for displaying books in a playroom or classroom. This bookshelf looks beautiful and it is made from high-quality wood that will last for years. It is ideal for a toddler who can select books independently when they recognize the covers.

What if we have loads more books?

Keeping a curated selection of books on a front-facing shelf does not mean you have to have a limited collection of books. Similar to toy rotation, it helps your little one focus, help themselves to the items they want to explore, and know where to put them back when you have a small number of titles to choose from.

Many Monti Kids families keep their entire library in a closet or a larger bookshelf and then pull 5 to 10 current favorites into their child's play area. 

Amazon Montessori Bookshelf
Source: ECR4Kids on Amazon

How long will my child use a Montessori-style bookshelf?

Certainly during the picture book years, until first or second grade, a child will enjoy having the covers of the books displayed for ease of use. 

Some families find that a high-quality aesthetically pleasing shelf can be used in bedrooms forever. Magazines, cookbooks, and coffee table-style books can be displayed on the sturdy shelves.

reading nook
@OurMontessoriJourney uses this mini-shelf from IKEA for a reading nook. In a few years, it could be in the family room.

What other options are there for displaying books?

For a baby or toddler, a low-sided basket of books works well. Limiting options to 3-5 books is helpful for a very young child.

Cloth basket with books, Montessori style These books and the basket are included in the Miles & Stones Toolkits for babies from 0-3.


Wall-mounted shelves are another option. Spice racks from IKEA are a popular solution for displaying books. As a child grows older, the shelves can be used to display anything!

Front Facing Wall-Mounted Bookshelf
Source: Amazon

What other play area ideas can I borrow from the Montessori philosophy?

Keeping your child's perspective in mind will help you design a place in which they can explore and thrive. Here is some more inspiration:

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