or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at School › Montessori › Good books for 2-year old
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Good books for 2-year old

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hi there,
Can anyone recommend a good board book for a 2-year old that does NOT contain anthropomorphism (animals that talk, wear clothes, have other human characteristics), tells a simple story that a 2-year old can understand, and contains realistic images?

So far, we have been using the Dorling Kindersley series, which has been excellent. These books contain photos of things in the kitchen, things for bathtime, animals, etc. But these books are "information" books and my daughter is just starting to get interested in story books. Trouble is, when we go into the bookstore, all we can find are Winnie-the-Pooh type books, with cartoon images or talking animals etc. I am just looking for very simple realistic stories relaying events similiar to my daughter's daily life and containing realistic images.

Please do not recommend Goodnight Moon (for one, because it also has a bunny in clothes, knitting on a chair ) as we have this and frankly, DD is not so interested in it.

Thanks for any input!

p.s. In case you are wondering what this has to do with Montessori, see these links:


post #2 of 12
When my kids aren't sleeping I can check out some of the titles of their books. Of course we have an assortement of different types so I won't include the ones that are unrealistic. You know I remember having the hardest time buying books when I was a Montessori Teacher in a toddler room. I do remember that the majority were not *board* books because they tend to be that with characters, unreal illustrations, fairy tale like stories etc. You might try www.Michaelolaf.com and order a catalogue from them. They only show a couple of their products on the website but if you order the joyful child there is a ton of stuff there. Probably not a huge selection of books but they will more than likely meet your guidelines.
post #3 of 12
I have been finding lots of great books at our Salvation Army and at thrift stores. I found a couple of National Geographics that my almost 2 year old loves.
There were lots of real life books---i.e. children exploring a forest and another of them exploring the river--with real photos, not drawings

I'm sure the library would have ones like that.

Good luck!
post #4 of 12
Sorry, this is one aspect of traditional Montessori that I don't buy at all. I'm a librarian (and Montessori grad, erstwhile M employee, librarian at several schools, and daughter of M teacher). I just made sure that when reading with my daughter - or other children - from the earliest ages that we talked about whether this was a "pretend" (fiction) book or a "real" (nonfiction) book. If it were fiction, we would talk about why something couldn't happen (i.e. rabbits do not wear dresses, generally speaking, even if Beatrix Potter's rabbits do - she loved Beatrix Potter at age 2). Most children that I've met have no problem discerning real vs. pretend if the adults in their lives make a commitment to being honest and truthful - and for us this also includes being honest about the myths of Santa, etc. She's always been very good about differentiating and has been bothered at her school when other children say things she knows not to be true (i.e. Stacy and her dad flew to the moon). I've told her to zip it when it comes to Santa though...

At six, she is quite "normalized" in her Montessori classroom, but also has a rich fantasy life at home, and loves make-believe and writing her stories. I have not found a 3-6 year old child yet in many M schools who does not enjoy fantasy while on the playground, at home, or while reading books, yet also adapts well to a Montessori classroom.

However, if it is your wish and strong belief that this way of proceeding is what's right for your family, I support you and humbly suggest these books for the 2-3 year old child:

Books by:
Tana Hoban (simple photographs of everyday life, including some concepts)
Ezra Jack Keats (realistic fiction, set in urban environments)
Caroline Uff (all about a toddler girl and her life, very sweet illustrations and young children generally LOVE this book)
Donald Crews (mostly transportation-themed books)
Denise Fleming (rhyming text illustrates gentle scenes of nature, also popular)

Individual Books:
Ella Sara Gets Dressed - Margaret Chodos-Irvine
Ten, Nine, Eight - Molly Bang
As Big As You - Elaine Greenstein
Bouncing on the Bed - Jackie French Koller
The Quiet Farmer - Marni McGee

Poetry books often concern realistic themes with beautiful language.
Usborne also makes some decent picture books, like DK, except predominantly illustrated.

Ironically, the teachers at my daughter's AMI school are very anti-DK books. They say they're too "scattered" for children's developing attention spans. I like them though, and they really appeal to certain children (and adults). She does currently attend a school in which only realistic fiction is accepted, although I counteract that at home. Beatrix Potter rocks! Naughty bunnies! Although we're way into Roald Dahl now..

Sorry for the length. I just feel very passionately about this topic.
post #5 of 12
Hi! There is great section on Fantasy/Reality in EM Standing's MM Her Life and Work (c. XX) also see: Chapter 2 of Montessori: A modern approach by Paula Lilliard and Chapter 2 of Education for Human Development by Mario Montessori Jr.
I agree that children are interested in fantasy. The question is at what age and at what expense? What I mean is that if all the child was given were fantasy books, she would have a hard time indeed distinguishing reality from fiction. She needs to also have the information about all kinds of real processes, and children are quite interested in books about these things: lifecycles, bioregions, other children, artists, musicians, geography, etc. I know children can say "yea, that is pretend" but is it really something that they "know" in the subscious? I remember when I was young, having freightening dreams about Count Chocula, Booberry and Frankenstein (from the cereal boxes). Of course, during the day, I could say, these are pretend.
There are many good (real) book choices at Michael Olaf and Montessori Servises, I have also had a lot of success finding good choices at thrift stores and used book stores.
One more thing:
"It would be quite wrong to argue that Montessori does not consider the imagination an important faculty, or that she is not interested in its full development. On the contrary, in her Advanced Montessori Method, Vol. 1, she treates of the subject to the tune of some 120 pages."
"Creative imaginaton is saturated with reality."
post #6 of 12
Originally Posted by Lillianna
I know children can say "yea, that is pretend" but is it really something that they "know" in the subscious? I remember when I was young, having freightening dreams about Count Chocula, Booberry and Frankenstein (from the cereal boxes). Of course, during the day, I could say, these are pretend.
Count Chocula? Booberry? That's pretty funny. I mean, I'm sure it wasn't at the time, but the cartoony aspect of evil incarnate might even give ME nightmares.

My daughter was never scared of pretend things...but she was terrified of smoke detectors, with the blinking red "eye" - even after I explained how they worked, we took one apart, we talked about how important they are to survival. I never could figure out exactly why. Count Chocula would have been much easier to avoid than those dang detectors. They're everywhere.

Also, the vacuum cleaner. That's still scary to her today. ?!
post #7 of 12
After visiting Florida, my DD was afraid for weeks that an alligator was going to come into her room, so yeah, there are "freightening" things in reality to be sure! For me, it was easier to explain to her how this was not true (that the alligator would not come into her room). We read a few books about alligators, saw them at the zoo etc. It seemed to help her and she wasn't afraid long. Much like you showing your daughter how the smoke detector works. I guess my point was to have the reality outweigh the fantasy for the critical years (0-6). We never know for what reason the child fixes his mind on a particular aspect of the environment. We just want to make sure that the child has many many experiences with reality, including being involved in the home life as well as reading about interesting natural phenomena!
post #8 of 12
I absolutely agree, Lilliana. I've always looked for a good balance of fantasy and reality in our books - it's just that I can't imagine raising her without Anansi the Spider (Kimmel), Dr. Seuss, Amelia Bedelia, traditional fairytales, Jan Brett's books...I also can't imagine not pouring over DK books and whatever "real" topics she's fascinated with currently. And currently, that would be penguins and volcanos (BTW, have you read the book "How to Dig a Whole to the middle of the earth?" Very, very good blend of fact and fantasy - a little boy digs through the layers of the earth -described extremely well - to the molten core...)

Regarding Goonight Moon - over in the toddler board, they're discussing your least favorite books, and Goodnight Moon is frequently mentioned. I always liked it, but I remember it sort of freaking me out as a child with the last panel's ambient darkness.
post #9 of 12
Oh, and a few more realistic books for the AP/Montessori Mama:

A Ride on Mother's Back: A Day of Baby Carrying Around the World by Emery Bernhard (babywearing)
We Like to Nurse by Chia Martin (breastfeeding)
Welcome With Love by Jenni Overend (homebirth)
The Cuddlers by Stacy Towle Morgan (cosleeping)
The Biggest Bed in the World by Lindsay Camp (cosleeping)

I'm not sure what your chances are of obtaining these books in France. Perhaps you can send me some Claude Ponti and I can send you some of these.
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your replies and recommendations!

Just to explain, I have several reasons for limiting the fantasy at this time. My DD is 19 months old and I have been reading/showing her books since she was 4 months old. I started out with all the classics: Goodnight Moon, Dr. Seuss, etc. but to be honest, I felt kind of silly pointing to a rabbit sitting on a chair and knitting and telling her that this was a rabbit. I mean, it is not a rabbit. Rabbits don't do that. Why would I mislead her into thinking that this was a rabbit? I had not read info on Montessori at that point but when I did, I completely understood the reasoning. Adults tend to show children these types of books because young children are gullible enough to believe them and to me, this does not show a lot of respect for the child, nor does assist an infant or toddler in developing an understanding of the real world. I suppose I could explain to DD that this is pretend but at 19 months, I don't think that she is going to understand those concepts!

But the other big reason that I have since avoided the unreal books is that even now, DD is just not interested in these books. I do have friends who tell me that their toddlers love them but when I start to read my DD a page from Dr. Seuss, she shuts the book and takes it back to her book shelf and looks for something else!! The pictures in Dr. Seuss are not great and she is not interested in me reading all that text. She LOVES the DK books. I completely agree that the images are often too scattered but I find them to be the best of what is available in photo books.

To be honest, when I look at the level of comprehension required for Dr. Seuss, to me it seems far more suited to a 6-year old, not a baby or even a toddler. The front cover even says "An I-can-read-it-myself Book". I think this means that the book was meant for beginner readers, not younger children.

The final reason that I have used the DK books so much is that we live in France. I am a native English speaker and DH is French. DD spends 6 hours per weekday in French public daycare and apart from me, almost all other communication in her environment is French. I am really keen on her becoming completely bilingual and the DK books have been fabulous in building her English vocabulary. She knows more expressions in French but she knows far more things in English, thanks in part to these books. Of course, story books and nursery rhymes will also be essential for building a sense of the structure and rhythm of the English language but the DK books have provided a good base.

Note that I have not been trying to avoid fiction at all, just fantasy. The two are different. It is actually fiction that I am looking for at present but realistic fiction, and preferably something that DD can identify with in her daily life.

I think the Mom on this link has a really common-sense view re the whole fantasy-reality issue:

post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
it's just that I can't imagine raising her without Anansi the Spider (Kimmel), Dr. Seuss, Amelia Bedelia, traditional fairytales, Jan Brett's books...
But aren't all of these books really for older kids? As I said above, to me, Dr. Suess seems appropriate for a 6 year old. Same for Amelia Bedelia (yet another "I can read Book"). I don't think I learn any fairy tales myself before I was 5. Roald Dahl I was reading when I was 9 or 10!!

Are these really books that cannot wait until later? After all, noone is saying that you cannot raise your child with these books. It is really all just a question of appropriate age.
post #12 of 12
Well, maybe she's advanced! Just kidding. I read Roald Dahl at the same age, and I mean she's reading it by herself too - she's an avid reader. We started Dr. Seuss at birth (The Foot Book board book version)...the rhymes in Seuss (or really any rhyming book) are great for language learning, and I personally love the wacky stuff. She is not so interested in Seuss anymore, but loves to read it to her little brother. This is what has worked for our family, at least.

The book lists I sent you are all realistic fiction, with the exception of Hoban and Crews. (Edit) They write "informational" books.

And, forgot to mention, I definitely have a wocket in my pocket.

Gotta go to a doll's birthday party now...(End Edit)
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Montessori
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at School › Montessori › Good books for 2-year old