Children's Books in a Montessori Classroom

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Maria Montessori took a view of children's literature that was very different from most others' of her day and ours. She thought that it was best to avoid giving books to young children that had magic or other fantastical elements in the stories. She thought that children below a certain age would be confused about what things in the stories were real or not. She thought it was disrespectful to children to not provide them with an accurate portrayal of the world when they were still building their understanding of how the world worked.
There has even been recent research that backs up the idea that children prefer stories that are real.
Another useful criteria for selecting children's books comes from the 19th century British educator Charlotte Mason. She advised against books that used baby-talk, or dumbed-down stories, or that insulted the intelligence of the reader in any other ways. She referred to these books as "twaddle."
Please feel free to add books to the lists:

Circle-Time Read Aloud

These are well-written, well-illustrated books that are either realistic fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction or biographies.
It takes about one minute to read aloud 100 words of a pictures book at a slow, steady pace, with time to look at each of the pictures. Use the word count to estimate how long it will take to read a book (round up the time for shorter books, round down the time for longer ones).

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Title Author Illustrator Word Count Topic Buy
The Sun is My Favorite Star Asch, Frank Asch, Frank 154 sun
The Story of Rosy Dock Baker, Jeannie Baker, Jeannie 322 Australia, non-native plants
Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing Barrett, Judi Barrett, Ronald 110 anthropomorphism
Building Our House Bean, Jonathan Bean, Jonathan 923 building a house
Big and Small, Room for All Bogart, Jo Ellen Newland, Gillian 92 relative size
Out of the Woods: A True Story of an Unforgettable Event Bond, Rebecca Bond, Rebecca 1,035 forest fire
Mary Wrightly, So Politely Bridges, Shirin Yim Monescillo, Maria 695 manners, assertiveness
Hanukkah in Alaska Brown, Barbara Schuett, Stacey 862 Hanukkah, Alaska
From Head to Toe Carle, Eric Carle, Eric 207 animals, actions
Will I Have a Friend? Cohen, Miriam Hoban, Lillian 484 starting school
My Family Plays Music Cox, Judy Brown, Elbrite 482 playing music
Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes Davies, Nicoloa Sutton, Emily 689 microbes
The Nutcracker Doll DePalma, Mary Newell DePalma, Mary Newell 473 being in a ballet
Charlie Needs a Cloak dePaola, Tomie dePaola, Tomie 120 making a cloak
Some Bugs DiTerlizzi, Angela Wenzel, Brendan 95 bugs
Knit Together Dominguez, Angela Dominguez, Angela 164 knitting, mothers and daughters
underGROUND Fleming, Denise Fleming, Denise 46 underground life
How My Parents Learned to Eat Friedman, Ina R. Say, Allen 1,242 Japanese and western eating
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening Frost, Robert Jeffers, Susan 108 poem, winter
Ox-Cart Man Hall, Donald Cooney, Barbara 654 frontier living
A House is a House for Me Hoberman, Mary Ann Fraser, Betty 732 homes, poem
I Like Old Clothes Hoberman, Mary Ann Barton, Patrice 287 old clothes
Jacob's New Dress Hoffman, Sarah and Ian Case, Chris gender-nonconformance
Jacob's Room to Choose Hoffman, Sarah and Ian Case, Chris gender-nonconformance, gender expression
Just Say Boo! Hood, Susan Henry, Jed 166 Halloween
The Little Bit Scary People Jenkins, Emily Boiger, Alexandra 513 understanding others
Who Am I? An Animal Guessing Game Jenkins, Steve & Page, Robin Jenkins, Steve & Page, Robin 201 animals
Weeds Find a Way Jenson-Elliott, Cindy Fisher, Carolyn 313 weeds
The Quilt Story Johnston, Tony dePaola, Tomie 567 a family heirloom quilt
How Big Were Dinosaurs? Judge, Lita Judge, Lita 1,016 dinosaurs
The Colors of Us Katz, Karen Katz, Karen 423 different skin colors
The Snowy Day Keats, Ezra Jack Keats, Ezra Jack 316 playing in the snow
Hot Dog! Eleanor Roosevelt Throws a Picnic Kimmelman, Leslie Juhasz, Victor 1,322 first lady
The Philharmonic Gets Dressed Kuskin, Karla Simont, Marc 1,252 orchestra
Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons Levine, Sara Spookytooth, T.S. 963 vertebrates
Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding Look, Lenore Heo, Yumi 1,448 wedding
Toilet: How It Works Macaulay, David Macaulay, David 942 how toilets work
Don't Sneeze at the Wedding Mayer, Pamela Avilés, Martha 701 wedding
15 Things NOT to Do With a Baby McAllister, Margaret Sterling, Holly 177 babies
I Spy Shapes in Art Micklethwait, Lucy various 117 famous paintings, shapes
Our Family Tree: An Evolution Story Peters, Lisa Westberg Stringer, Lauren 626 evolution
Guess What is Growing Inside This Egg Posada, Mia Posada, Mia 838 animal eggs
The Glorious Flight Provensen, Alice and Martin Provensen, Alice and Martin 876 early airplane
Blackout Rocco, John Rocco, John 158 blackouts
Blizzard Rocco, John Rocco, John 666 blizzard
A Fawn in the Grass Ryder, Joanne Narahashi, Keiko 155 observing wildlife
I Used to be Afraid Seeger, Laura Vaccaro Seeger, Laura Vaccaro 78 overcoming fears
Who Put the Cookies in the Cookie Jar? Shannon, George Paschkis, Julie 143 food production
Can I Eat That? Stein, Joshua David Rothman, Julia 329 edible things
The Man with the Violin Stinson, Kathy Petricic 444 musician
Carry Me: Animal Babies on the Move Stockdale, Susan Stockdale, Susan 81 animal babies
I Love My Hair Tarpley, Natasha Anastasia Lewis, E.B. 469 African-American hair
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Viorst, Judith Cruz, Ray 741 a bad day
Susan B. Anthony Wallner, Alexandra Wallner, Alexandra 1,610 biography, women's rights
A Chair for My Mother Williams, Vera B. Williams, Vera B. 1,073 saving, generosity
Henri's Scissors Winter, Jeanette Winter, Jeanette 426 biography, artist
The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps Winter, Jeanette Winter, Jeanette 972 biography, chimpanzees

Chapter Books

These are longer well-written books that are either realistic fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction or biographies. They would need to be read over the course of several days.

Title Author Illustrator Word Count Topic
Linnea in Monet's Garden Bjork, Christina Anderson, Lena 5,871
Sarah, Plain and Tall MacLachlan, Patricia 8,377
Little House on the Prairie Wilder, Laura Ingalls 52,038

More Book Lists

Further Reading

Choosing Children's Books