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Book Reviews

Here are some free Montessori books! 

Understood Betsy

Understood Betsy, by Dorothy Canfield Fisher, is a delightful, fictional story of a young girl who finally comes into her own to achieve happiness in a Montessori environment. This is a great story for parents to read before starting a Montessori program. Mrs. Fisher was an early supporter of Montessori education. She met Dr. Montessori in Italy in 1911. While observing Dr. Montessori's child developmental daycare, the Children's House, she was so impressed by what was happening that she became an avid supporter of the Montessori movement in America. She wrote several books on the Montessori method as well.

A Montessori Mother by Dorothy Canfield Fisher is another free book online. This version is wonderful in that it is edited and much easier to read than the original work. 

The Montessori Method by Maria Montessori is free and online. It was the first book I read during my Montessori training. 

Spontaneous Activity in Education  by Maria Montessori is much easier to understand than some of her earlier works.


Okay, it is true,  many Montessorians don't use fiction or fantasy books for preschool children. I admit I read both fiction and non fiction books to my children. At a certain stage, toddler mainly, they loved nonfiction books. We just read expository books at this stage.

However, between the ages of 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 I introduced fiction books.  We still read mostly nonfiction books, but the fiction books introduce other elements to your child's understanding that nonfiction books do not.

First of all, it's a great opportunity to talk about what is real and what is pretend. I tired to tell my children if something was real or not. As far as fantasy is concerned, I think that Montessori just wanted adults to be as truthful to children as much as possible. The truth builds a real and trusting realtionship between you and your child.

Secondly, fiction introduces elements of literature that you can not find in nonfiction books.  Metaphors, symbols, protagonist, personification,  and other literary ideas are found in the figurative language of fiction. At age 4 1/2  many children understand the concept of personification. In fact, they see the humor in it. Also, fiction can bring an interesting way to talk about human values and ideas.

Lastly, fiction has a plot, suspense, an ending, and is just downright fun to read. The language of fiction is exciting.

Poetry and finger plays build a baby's language skills. The meter and rhythm catches their attention. It's like singing without words. Singing to them is even better. For once, I had an audience that appreciated my singing!  New studies have found that nursery rhymes have an important role in  building a baby's  language skills.

I don't know if Montessori knew this, but nonfiction books do help build comprehension skills for reading. In fact some reading specialists trace children's reading comprehension problems to reading too many narrative, fiction type books. Like everything in life, we need a little bit of everything good.

Free books to Download

Here are various free children's books on the web.

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Last Updated: November 11, 2012
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