Book Recommendations

The operation of this site is partly funded by commissions I make from on books purchased through these links. I only recommend books I have personally read and found useful. I only post book recommendations on pages intended for adults.

It make take a while for all of the entries to appear.



Books on Montessori by Other Authors

I generally find Montessori's original works more difficult to read because she writes in the flowery style of her day. You might want to start with one or two of these before taking on the Dottoressa in her own words.

The Montessori Controversy is a good general overview of the method. The Computer and the Child: A Montessori Approach is dated and often unavailable through Amazon, but it's the only book on computers and Montessori that I know of. Maria Montessori is an excellent biography that provides insights into Montessori's ideas and the Montessori movement. Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, published in 2005, is an analysis of Montessori's ideas in light of modern research in developmental psychology. Montessori Today is another overview of the Montessori method with more details on the method and less references to research thanThe Montessori Controversy. Montessori in Contemporary American Culture is a collection of papers that came out of a symposium on "Montessori in Contemporary American Culture" sponsored by the American Montessori Society in 1990.


Books by Montessori

While this site is geared toward school age children, Montessori focused mainly on kids below the age of seven. Even if your main interest is in elementary school kids or older, you will eventually need to look at Montessori's writings on younger children in order to really understand her theory.

Books on the Montessori method for preschool children


Books on the Montessori method for school age children

Some books in this section are sometimes unavailable. The book Spontaneous Activity in Education was also published under the title The Advanced Montessori Method, Volume 1. I'm providing links to both in case one edition is unavailable. Same with The Montessori Elementary Material and The Advanced Montessori Method, Volume 2.



Books by Papert

In the section above on Montessori, I mentioned that the best way to be introduced to her work is probably through other authors. I think Papert's books probably provide the best introductions to Papert's ideas.



Brian Harvey's three volumes are great to use with kids in grades 9 and up, or to help teachers develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for Logo as a powerful programming language. The volumes are available for free on Brian Harvey's web site as PDF files.


Logo and Math

Learning Mathematics and Logo is a collection of essays describing research on Logo in the decade before 1992. Lots of good stuff in there about using Logo with elementary and middle school kids. The rest of the books are secondary and post-secondary level. Even if you don't plan to work with kids at this level, they will give you a deeper understanding and appreciation of Logo. Visual Modeling with Logo was written by a professor at the American College in Paris that brought together art students and math students in projects combining visual thinking and quantitative analysis. Investigations in Algebra helps learners explore functions, mathematical induction, combinatorics, and number theory through Logo. Turtle Geometry takes you from the construction of simple polygons to the general theory of relativity. I use Approaching Precalcus Mathematics Discretely for a distance learning class I teach for the Center for Talent Development. It's a fun way to help kids learn important precalculus concepts.


Encouraging Children

Dreikurs said, "There are no bad children, only discouraged ones". These books are about encouraging children in ways that help them overcome behavior problems. I've heard claims by Montessorians that Adler studied with Montessori, and claims by Adlerians that they only met once, speaking through a translator. Either way, they were close in age (Adler was six months older than Montessori), and shared some important basic ideas about the emerging field of developmental psychology, including the importance of observing children in natural settings where they are free to make choices. Dreikurs worked closely with Adler. Kathryn Kvols was influenced by Dreikurs. Faber and Maxlish were influenced by the work of Haim Ginott. Donna Bryant Goertz is a master Montessori teacher.


Ethnography and Design

As Montessori told us, ethnographic analysis has a critical role in the design of effective learning activities. Contextual Design: Defining Customer-Centered Systems is a great book that clear explains how to use field data to develop software that works for the customer. The ideas in the book can be applied to educational software or educational materials in general. Computers and Classroom Culture is an excellent ethnographic study of kids and teachers using computers in a public high school. The places where my web site works are the places where I followed advice from these two books: The Design of Sites and Designing With Web Standards.



In Fearless Change, Mary Lynn Manns and Linda Rising demonstrate how patterns can be used effectively in an unexpected domain—organizational change. Design Patterns is the classic patterns book for programmers.


Understanding Mathematics

Although he distinguishes his own work from Montessori's (and to some degree, Piaget's), Freudenthal is from the Netherlands, home of AMI, the international organization that Montessori founded, where Montessori lived out her last years. Her influence can still be found in the schools of the Netherlands and in Freudenthal's work, and I don't think there's much in his books that Montessorians would object to. At one time, Piaget headed the Swiss Montessori Society. I don't know of any connection between Polya and Montessori. I just like his book.


Mental Health

If we want kids to grow up to be mentally healthy adults, we need to be able to recognize healthy adults when we see them and be somewhat healthy ourselves. Nathaniel Branden's books and Flow help in their own ways in both areas. Anybody who works with kids also needs to take time every once in a while to refuel. Although I'm not a Buddhist, I find I make it through the week on a more even keel if I stop by my local Zen temple on Sunday morning and sit for couple of hours. Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind is a good introduction to seated meditation in the Zen tradition.



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