The best books about Montessori education

Susan Mayclin Stephenson Author Of Aid to Life, Montessori Beyond the Classroom
By Susan Mayclin Stephenson

Who am I?

Wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, thinker. In the 1960s, after travel and study, and observing poverty, in the Middle East and Asia, I needed to find a way to help others. Montessori training and fifty years of work have given me the tools, not only to teach in schools, but to use Montessori principles in other situations. I am a speaker, school consultant, oral examiner for Montessori teacher training courses on six continents, and I have written eight books, each one presenting Montessori principles and practices in unique and practical ways. These books are being translated into many languages.


I wrote...

Aid to Life, Montessori Beyond the Classroom

By Susan Mayclin Stephenson,

Book cover of Aid to Life, Montessori Beyond the Classroom

What is my book about?

How can people benefit from this method of education without a Montessori school?

Some examples: teaching “Montessori” in a private girls school in Peru without Montessori materials; answering questions in a newspaper column concerning kinds of intelligence, self-esteem in children, homeschooling, being a good father, and more; aiding children in Tibet and Nepal and Tibetan refugees in India; speaking at an education conference with the Dalai Lama in Sikkim; help for severely disabled children in Russia, an orphanage in Morocco, babies born in prison, and work with the elderly. There is a delightful grandparents’ story, Montessori at home ideas for ages 0-18, and an observation of an authentic 3-6 Montessori class in London. There is truly something for everyone in this book.

The books I picked & why

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Maria Montessori: A Biography

By Rita Kramer,

Book cover of Maria Montessori: A Biography

Why this book?

My husband and I agree that this is the best biography of Maria Montessori available. My husband relishes the historical context and I enjoy the personal stories, and the education details. The author brings this powerful woman to life, finely weaving Montessori’s story into the cultures and politics of Europe at the time. She presents an interesting and detailed perspective of not only an educator, but also a medical doctor, and crusader for social reform, including the rights of women and children.


Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius

By Angeline Stoll Lillard,

Book cover of Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius

Why this book?

I don’t usually care about signed books, but after hearing this author speak, I stood in line for just that! Montessori had many insights about children based on her observations, but not everyone believed them. In the years since her death, scientific studies have been conducted that confirm her conclusions. This book is rich in detail about how calls “the factory model” of education came about, and how following Montessori principles can turn this around for the good of children and of society. Professor Lillard, a skeptic until she began her own research to discover and assess authentic Montessori education, details the impact of the movement in learning, executive function, learning from peers, extrinsic rewards and motivation, the order in the environment and the mind, and much more.


From Childhood to Adolescence

By Maria Montessori,

Book cover of From Childhood to Adolescence

Why this book?

What happens after a child finishes Montessori preschool?

That was the question for my own children. I was able to take the Montessori 6-12 training in order to keep up with them, but parents and teachers can learn a lot about this age here. Dr. Montessori examines the educational concerns of the older child, the adolescence, and even the university student. She considers each level on its own because human beings have different needs at different ages. She explores ways to support the physical, mental, social, and psychological needs of each age. It is in this book that we learn about the Erdkinder, or Farm School, where the need for real work, independence, and related research, and work-based academic study is being provided in several countries today.


The 1946 London Lectures

By Maria Montessori,

Book cover of The 1946 London Lectures

Why this book?

These lectures were delivered by Montessori during the first teacher training course given in London after she returned from forced exile in India as an Italian national during WWII. I received lectures based on them during my own Montessori course in London, but not until 2012 were they organized and edited by my good friend Annette Haines, and published as a book. Montessori’s granddaughter Renilde Montessori wrote the foreword. The lectures speak to many aspects of Montessori valuable today such as: education based on psychology rather than a fixed curriculum, education from birth, unlocking intelligence, social development, education for independence, solving social problems through education, when to give children the truth and when fairy tales are appropriate, and the difference between work and play.


Maria Montessori

By Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, Raquel Martín (illustrator),

Book cover of Maria Montessori

Why this book?

A few years ago my granddaughter, who had already attended a Montessori school for two years, asked me, “Who is Montessori.” So my last selection is a book for children!

In just 26 pages, with few words and delightful illustrations, we learn how a young girl in Italy, who wanted to be a doctor when girls were not allowed to study science, had her choices respected by her parents. And how she discovered, from watching children, that learning was more fun when it occurs through toys and games and movement. They learn that her ideas are still helping improve the way children learn in many countries of the world. There is also a 2-page timeline with pictures for the adult to learn more


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