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Our Reference Books and How we Use Them

As my children get a little bit older, it's important for me to have books available that give them information, not just stories. This way if they have a question, they have the resources available to them to be able to find information about that topic. Plus, these books open up so much information about the world that my children may not have learned otherwise. 

We have had many of these books for a long time, but organizing them into a reference library was an idea I got from How We Montessori. Basically, these books are not rotated like our picture books, but are on their own shelf available all the time. Since organizing this way, my children have access to answer their questions or to just pursue the books at their leisure. It's worked really well. 

A look at the reference books we use in our Montessori home

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Here are a look at some of my favorite reference books. Most of these we own, but a few are on my wish list. 


Maps - a great visual overview, appropriate even for younger children. Beautiful illustrations and not text heavy. But doesn't include every country. 
Biomes - these are out of print, so harder to find. But beautiful pictures and great overview of different biomes/habitats around the world. We have several of these and they are great to look at or to reference for information. 
Geography from A to Z - beautifully illustrated but fairly text heavy. Definitely geared toward a slightly older child, but still accessible. 
Atlas (ours) - this is on my wish list, we have an older atlas that works fine, but it's less extensive particularly in non-Western countries. The newer book is more inclusive and seems to have great information while being visually interesting

Life on Earth

Natural History - a must have. Simply stunning. Huge book with gorgeous pictures and brief amounts of information about all types of life. I love that it isn't limited to plants and animals. 
Animalium - beautiful illustrations make this good for older and younger children. But the text is dense and geared for older child. Also only includes a small sample of animals. 
Botanicum - again, beautiful illustrations! And nice diversity of plants found on Earth, but only a sampling. Great book for younger readers to look at, but text is dense and meant for older child. 

A look at the reference books we use in our Montessori home


The Planets - another must have! This is gorgeous and in depth look at the planets. Text is geared toward older child. Also only includes information about our solar system, not space in general and no information about space programs (rockets/GPS/etc.) 

Human Anatomy

Human Anatomy in Full Color - lovely book with good illustrations. A younger child could enjoy looking through but the text is very small and very technical, meant for an older reader. 
Anatomy: A Cutaway Look - this book is gorgeous but VERY delicate. A younger child would need to be supervised in using this book. Nice overview of information. 

General Reference

Visual Dictionary - a very extensive book with labels for many topics. Book is mainly just labeling objects not informative, but works well. Meant for an older reader, not as young child friendly. 
Encyclopedia  (ours) - this is another on our wishlist. Ours is older and out of print, but works really well, it's just not as updated with current information. Great quick reference for specific questions and topics. 

Do you have a reference library? Any reference books you would recommend? 



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