Montessori and Knives
A cultural basket

Montessori. Toddlers. Books.

Otis reading 'first words' book

I want to share with you some notes that I have made as I have been reading about Montessori, toddlers and books. All families I know treasure books. Every parent I know reads to their child/ren. So what's so different about the Montessori approach?

  • Have the child hold and handle books from an early age. If the child is sitting in your lap have them hold the book or turn the pages.
  • Ensure the child knows and understands where books are kept and is able to put them back after use. 
  • Demonstrate how to turn the pages carefully from the top right corner. 
  • Store books at the child's height in a front facing bookshelf, displays or in baskets. Toddlers are not able to associate a book by it's spine so it's best to store them where the child can easily see the cover. 
  • Provide books based on reality. Montessori wasn't against fiction but believed fairy-tales and the like are best suited to older children. Toddlers are trying to make sense of the world and are often most interested in the world around them, animals, the environment and everyday activities. 
  • Offer books that demonstrate diversity, show different cultures and different lands.
  • Provide comfortable reading spaces throughout the home environment. A reading corner with a few cushions can be provided in the living area as well as the bedroom or garden.
  • Do not interrupt a child reading (unless they are mistreating the book or are in danger). A child can build and exercise their concentration just by reading/looking at books. 
  • Quality not quantity. A few well chosen books are best. If the child has access to a large number of books they can be difficult to store and care for - try rotating books but keep favourites available at all times.
  • Source reference books with clear pictures of objects or animals for the child to name (try books that show the image with a white or plain background so the child can easily distinguish the object). 
  • It's not necessary to read the story every time. With an older toddler try talk about the story, what is going on in the picture. Build anticipation - what will happen next?
  • Accept the child's choice, allow the child choose a book to read without enforcing your preferences. 
  • Ensure the child is exposed to family and friends reading for their own pleasure. Remember toddlers will imitate and absorb all that is around them!

Otis reading at twelve months

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