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3 min read

In the early years, Montessori tends to offer books with real photographs rather than cartoon images.

There's two main reasons why:

1. Real photographs can be more effective in teaching vocabulary because they present accurate depictions of items.

They can help make the connection between the word and object easier to understand.

2. Infants and toddlers often show a preference for faces and real-world objects. They want to see images and hear stories about things they can experience, see, and touch.

Books with photographs can capture their interest more effectively than cartoons, leading to more opportunities for learning.

Should you only look at books with real life photos?

No, there's a variety of amazing cartoon books that you'd miss out on.

In Montessori, rather than focusing exclusively on real life photos, it's encouraged to choose books rooted in reality, even if the images are illustrations, i.e. no talking animals, fantasy storylines, etc.

This is generally the approach until children are around age six, when they can better distinguish between fantasy and reality.

As Dr. Montessori said, "(The young child) cannot distinguish well between the real and the imaginary, between things that are possible and things that are merely ‘made up’."

Fantasy can simply be confusing for a young child.

So if you are interested in growing your library of books with real life images, here's our favourites.

15 of the Best Board Books with Real Photographs (age range included):

Farm Animals Mini Book
 - 3 months to 3 years
This Mini board book introduces the names of farm animals, including rabbits, sheep, pigs, and more alongside photographs of each animal.

Baby Faces Feelings - 3 months to 2 years
A first introduction to emotions, illustrated with real photos of babies expressing the various emotions.

Baby Touch and Feel: Animals - 3 months to 2 years
An interactive touch-and-feel book featuring tactile elements and real-life photos of a wide range of animals, from dogs to elephants.

The Babies And Doggies Book - 3 months to 2 years
This board book explores all of the similar actions shared by babies and dogs.  Illustrated with photographs featuring an array of dog breeds and different babies.  

My Heart Beats by Rina Singh - 3 months to 2 years
A beautiful photographic board book featuring babies from all over the world and the sounds their hearts make as they beat with love.

May We Have Enough to Share by Richard Van Camp - 3 months to 2 years
Award-winning author Richard Van Camp wrote this book to express his gratitude for all that surrounds him and his family.  Written in simple verse with photos from photographers who celebrate their own gratefulness.

Colors by Marie Vendittelli - 3 months to 3 years
This board book introduces children to the colours of the rainbow through eye-catching photographs of animals in their natural habitats.

National Geographic's Little Kids First Board Book Series - 3 months to 3 years
Every book in this series includes vivid photographs, alongside super simple facts and text.  These books never left the library in the classroom, a favourite all year.  

Nature Baby: Birds - 3 months to 5 years
Features full-colour photography and short, simple text to showcase 10 beloved types of backyard birds.

Suho Goes to Pee: Preparing For Potty Training & Suho Goes to Poop: Preparing For Potty Training - 1 to 5 years
These books helps prepare children on what to expect during toilet learning. Real photographs depict Suho learning to use the toilet, allowing children to better relate to the subject matter.

Zayden Goes to the Dentist: Preparing For A Dentist Visit & Chloe Goes to the Doctor: Preparing For A Doctor Visit - 1 to 5 years
These books help prepare children on what to expect during a visit to the dentist or doctor.  Real photographs provide an accurate representation of the process, helping them overcome any potential concerns or fears.

Becoming a Sibling: Preparing For A New Baby Arrival - 1 to 5 years
The photographs and simple text are the perfect combination to help prepare older siblings for the arrival of a new baby in the house.

Shapes by Judith Nouvion - 2 to 6 years
This board book introduces children to different shapes through eye-catching photographs of animals in our natural world.

We also love the two series' below, they're just not board books and need to be handled with more care, generally better for children 3+:
  • Real Life Pages - features storylines about typical challenges children will face, like learning to ride a bike or having surgery.

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