• Instagram - Cosmic Bookshelf
  • White Twitter Icon
  • Facebook - Cosmic Bookshelf

All Rights Reserved 2018

Cosmic Bookshelf and Co.

THE COSMIC GUIDE TO 

Choosing Books

Understanding where a child lands developmentally is the first step in making sure you're sharing the right books. We've used Maria Montessori's planes of development as a guide to help illustrate the best way to choose books with children from birth to age eighteen. While this isn't exhaustive by any means, we hope it's a helpful cheat sheet for you to understand where your bibliophile's mind is at their current level of development.

Click on a selection below for a brief overview of a specific plane, or just scroll down and see them all. 

Birth to Age 3

Age 9 - 12

Age 3 - 6

Age 12 - 18

Age 6 - 9

Birth to Age 3

 

From birth to age six, children are in the stage of development Montessori refers to as "The Absorbent Mind." The first three years are driven by the unconscious mind, during which time children absorb information without conscious effort. They tend to learn best through repetition and sensory experiences. You're not yet showing them the key to the world so much as you're showing them what a key is.

Choose books that:

Developmentally,

those in this age group:

are sponges for information.

are in a sensitive period for language

are in a sensitive period for order

love repetition, rhyme, and rhythm.

are learning about reality and the physical world around them.

include simple language.

have interesting pictures with lots of contrast.

are durable enough for children to handle themselves.

have extra sensory elements.

            have real photos: babies, animals, plants, and other

            recognizable images.

Age 3 - 6

 

The second half of the Absorbent Mind plane is ruled by the conscious mind, when children begin to understand their physical body and want to make an impression on their environment. They're still able to pick up information easily, but now set about to drive their experiences on their own, entering an age of fierce independence.

Developmentally,

those in this age group:

Choose books that:

are in sensitive periods for language, order, and grace and courtesy, making them especially interested and absorbent of these lessons and skills.

love tiny objects and small details.

are interested in learning to read and write.

are refining their senses.

are fiercely independent.

are based in reality, with children at the center.

have interesting, beautiful illustrations or photos with a lot for children to notice and discuss.

prompt a conversation.

Age 6 - 9

 

The second plane of development in Montessori philosophy, from age six to twelve, is governed by the reasoning mind. They've learned to do it themselves, and now they need to know what, why, and how. This is the age Cosmic Education is introduced, and children use their independence and the skills they learned in the Absorbent phase to drive their further understanding of topics, ponder hypotheticals, follow their interests, and make more complex social connections.

Developmentally,

those in this age group:

Choose books that:

are more interested in working and playing with peers than ever before.

are refining social skills, including empathy, and are interested in the concept of fairness and justice.

are in a sensitive period for imagination, allowing them to think more abstractly than before.

are deepening their understanding of the world through exploration and research.

are interested in heroes, morals, and ethics.

may or may not be fantastical, but definitely contain emotional truth and realistic social interactions. Themes of friendship are especially pertinent to this age group.

are at the child's reading level so they can read on their own.

may be above the child's reading level so you can read together.

may be below their reading level because it's something they love to read. 

may include some challenging vocabulary the child will need to look up or learn from context clues.

Age 9 - 12

 

The reasoning mind of a nine- to twelve-year-old is in hyperdrive, looking for answers to questions on a larger scale than ever before. The Reasoning Mind is one of justice, a quest for social understanding, and creating networks. This is a sensitive period of social awareness, and the sense of physical order gives way to moral order. 

Developmentally,

those in this age group:

Choose books that:

are able to handle complex ideas related to identity, culture, and justice.

are interested in understanding social hierarchy.

are looking for their place in the world, and are comparing themselves to their peers.

are deepening their understanding of the world through exploration and research.

are interested in heroes, morals, and ethics.

address heady concepts without being "preachy" -- books with emotional stories that ring true, whether the world is realistic or fantastical. ​

explore relationships, especially friendships and familial bonds.

may be dark, but have hope.

 

Age 12 - 18

The adolescent is primarily focused on their position in the world, gaining and exercising independence, and building their sense of self on their way to adulthood. They continue to have a dedication to justice, are socially aware and focused, and Montessori practices involve more community outreach and focus on the individual's place in a functioning society.

Developmentally,

those in this age group:

Choose books that:

are able to handle complex ideas related to identity, culture, and justice.

are finding their place among peers, in their greater community, and in society at large​

are conscious of the way the world sees them

are leading their own learning

are applying what they've learned so far to the world outside the classroom

ask "what if"

explore relationships, including friendships, romantic relationships, and familial bonds.

may be dark, but have hope.

speak to the needs of a community and the characters' place within their society

include themes of independence, justice, and identity