Two by Two: Two Montessori Inspired Books for Preschoolers

Two by Two is an exciting children literature project. Its purpose is to bring more or less known children books in the attention of teachers, parents and children around the world, paired on specific themes such as death, communication, self esteem, anger management, friendship or unconditional love. A lot of these books were brought to my attention by a very dear friend, with whom I share  the passion for child literature. Almost all of these books are in my personal library, carefully chosen to fulfill some of the criteria described here, and have been used during my teaching classes. The children I work with had wonderful reactions to them, and this has inspired me to write this Two by Two series.

Maria Montessori was a remarkably bright girl who grew up to shake the foundations of the traditional education system. Although her method is becoming increasingly popular (you can read a detailed article about it here), there still are many less known facts about her life. She grew up in a period when women were not allowed to vote or to make decisions for themselves. She was one of the first Italian girls to be allowed public education. She challenged the norms by deciding to take technical studies, then switched to medicine. She was sensitive but strong willed and liked to do things her way. She was a fast learner and quickly adopted good case practices from around the world and took on the challenge to work with very disadvantaged children. She then grasped the first opportunity to work with normal children and by observing them and their needs, she designed materials and activities that could help them grow happy and independent. She lectured in countries around the world and assisted in the opening of many Montessori schools. She refused Mussolini when he demanded fascism to be taught in her schools and relocated several times. She met Gandhi, Nehru and Tagore. She received three nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. These are some of the reasons why I chose this first article of 2014 from the Two by Two series to cover two Montessori inspired books!

1. Montessori Shape Work, by Bobby George, June George, Alyssa Nassner (Illustrations)

Although the third in a series of books created by the same authors, I believe it should be the first to be introduced to children, as they encounter shapes in their environment much earlier than they recognize and understand the numbers or the letters. Unlike other books presented in the Two by Two series, this one does not stand out because of stunning illustrations. As Montessori advocated for children to be grounded in reality at early ages, the pictures show colorful real-life objects which can help children spot the shapes in their own environment or outside of it.

Throughout the book, shapes are introduced three by three, from three different types of triangles (isosceles, equilateral, right-angled); to three different types of rounds (circle, ellipse, oval); to three different types of parallelograms (square, rectangle, rhombus); and three different types of polygons (pentagon, hexagon, octagon).

What makes this book more special than other shape books is the fact that it contains die-cut shapes for children to trace with their fingers, thus working towards imprinting the shapes in the "kinesthetic" or "muscular memory" of the child. 

2. Montessori Number Work, by Bobby George, June George, Alyssa Nassner (Illustrations)

Like all of the three books in this Montessori series, the number book is also a board book meant to stimulate the child's learning through visual and tactile senses. Accompanied by an adult, the hearing sense comes to help as well, as children discriminate the sounds used for each of the symbols that represent the numbers.

Similar to the other books, the first page hosts a Parent Letter, during which the method used is explained. Again, the book is accompanied by real life objects to count, numbers to trace, and the corresponding number rod!

Number rods  is the first of a series of brilliantly designed mathematical instruments that Montessori created with the purpose of teaching children numeracy and arithmetic. As the child counts through the objects, s/he begins to make the correlation between the quantity, symbol, touch of the symbol and sound, and ultimately the corresponding number rod.

The last book of the series is simply called Montessori: Letter Work and it builds up on the skills gained in the two previous books. I really love these books because they conveniently have some of the attributes of the Montessori materials packed in elegant, practical, simple board books that respect some of the Montessori principles and help the child make connections between concrete and abstract with the help of their senses.

These books are an excellent tool for home or classroom learning. I hope they make you at least a bit curious about Montessori and her method! Feel free to contact me at for any questions you may have related to that! I am happy to share my knowledge with any education enthusiast!

Source of Images:



Standing, E.M., Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work (New York 1984)

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