“A book, too, can be a star, 'explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly,' a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.”
Cosmic Bookshelf was born in 2018 out of a need for connection: first and foremost, connecting young people to great books.
The "cosmic" in Cosmic Bookshelf isn't only for the cosmos themselves, but for the way we see our place in them. In Montessori philosophy, Cosmic Education is the approach to secondary education that gives students a sense of where they are in the universe, beginning at the largest scale — the cosmos — and working down to the self. Through this method children gain a broader perspective of their physical place in the world as well as in the greater human story.
The "uniquely portable magic*" of a book is our best tool in fostering these connections, along with exercising that empathy muscle. Through a good book, we are both met where we are and transported somewhere new.
But what makes a book "good"? And how do we find the best ones? It can seem a daunting task. With the resources compiled here, we hope you're able to spend less time sifting through online lists and more time reading with a child.
* So called by Stephen King, and we couldn't agree more.
Books for young people should be based in reality. For the youngest children, this might mean showing the magic of the natural world. For older children this means the reality of emotion, the truth of experience.
Books should enlighten and inspire, empower and galvanize. Some books may be frightening, some are certainly dark, but there will always be hope.
Books for young readers must be feminist, intersectional, and representative of children across the globe. Every child should be able to see themselves reflected in the pages they read, triumphing over hardship and finding lasting connection along with the characters.
We believe the diverse world of artists and writers deserves representation just as the characters on the page do, and support those who create books from all around the world.
Reading should be fun, frequent, accessible, and stress-free.
So please enjoy this database of bookish information, compiled with young people in mind by a few passionate educators and lit-lovers. We hope you find what you're looking for here, and if you don't, well — just ask.
chapter book editor
To keep her sense of wonder healthy, Gaby eats picture books for breakfast and chapter books for lunch. She collects both and pores over them when she should be doing other things. Because of this, it seemed only natural to share her fascination with the written word and illustrated page with the world at large, but most specifically with young people, for whom the books are actually intended.
Gaby earned a BFA in art history and illustration (2010) and an MFA in creative writing for young people (2017), both from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She holds her AMS Montessori certification at the Primary level (2014) from Northeast Montessori Institute.
When she's not devouring or writing about books, Gaby is social media editor and website support for the Joseph Campbell Foundation. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her husband and small dog, both of whom do their part to keep her fed on a steady diet of absurd humor, art, nature, and magic.
picture book editor
Grace will take a story in as many varieties as she'll take a cookie, but if really pressed she'd likely choose picture books and oatmeal chocolate chip, please and thank you. In her attempt to collect stories of all sorts, she's working her way through movie lists, musicals, and bookshelves alike, only to find that the most satisfying part of gathering a treasury of tales is sharing it with others. Kind of like cookies.
Grace received her BS in early childhood education and language & literacy studies (2015) from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, and her MA in children's literature (2017) from Simmons College in Boston. She is currently working toward her AMI primary diploma through the Montessori Training Center of St. Louis (2020).
Regularly surprising others with baked goods and her lack of a Southern accent, Grace is an Alabama transplant living in St. Louis, Missouri. She works at Chesterfield Montessori School, reviews for the Horn Book Magazine, and can be found carrying a tune or a book at almost any hour of the day.