Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Secret of Childhood” as Want to Read:
The Secret of Childhood
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Secret of Childhood

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  467 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Maria Montessori describes the child with warmth and the exactness of a scientist. She also discusses the array of materials and techniques needed to release his learning potential.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published January 12th 1982 by Ballantine Books (first published 1936)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Secret of Childhood, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Secret of Childhood

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn MillerThe First Days Of School by Harry K. WongSavage Inequalities by Jonathan KozolPedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo FreireEducating Esmé by Esmé Raji Codell
books for teachers, educators
62nd out of 447 books — 416 voters
The Montessori Method by Maria MontessoriMontessori from the Start by Paula Polk LillardDr. Montessori's Own Handbook by Maria MontessoriThe Secret of Childhood by Maria MontessoriHow To Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin
Best Books for Montessorians
4th out of 27 books — 8 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,388)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Roslyn Ross
There are few books on children that I have read that are better than this one.

I love this woman. What I would give to have lunch with her! I want to share Nathaniel Branden's stuff on self-esteem with her! She would have a much better understanding of adults. Found it very interesting that she has such a clear view of children in most ways and such a clear view that they become abnormal anti-humans and then go live lives not worthy of a human being. But then she forgets. She forgets that real
Maria Montessori is a genius. She was born in 1870. To have such great insights on children's development in that era is very rare. If you heard about Monterssori and is skeptical about her philosophy or how things seem to be done, this book definitely gives you a bigger picture of Montessori's larger thinking. Keep in mind that Montessori worked with children from a lower to working class family background with parents that were illiterate and poor.

Montessori placed emphasis on children's physi
Erik Akre
Jul 16, 2015 Erik Akre rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: parents of little ones, anyone exploring Montessori
Shelves: education, montessori
The Secret of Childhood is the best place to find Montessori's early thinking about human development for ages 3-6. It includes numerous stories and anecdotes and differs from The Absorbent Mind in subtle ways. It seems less theoretical and more experiential, withe more (and better) specific stories of children and their development. "The Secret of Childhood," it turns out, is also the hidden key to the future of humanity. The book develops this theme well at the end, looking forward to much of ...more
I've been interested in Montessori style education since having my son, and we have implemented some Montessori ideas in his room and with his toys/learning materials (a floor bed in his room, toys and books within reach, simple stacking and sorting toys...along with the inevitable V Tech talking things) This is her first book I believe, and details out how she got started working in schools with children. I find many of her ideas about childhood and children ring very true, and I definitely bel ...more
" The child is universal. He has existed in all ages and will continue to be born until the end of time. There is no child from pre-history, of the Middle Ages, no Victorian child, no modern child. There is, in reality, only the child, of all times, of all races, heir to tradition, hander-on of history, crucible of culture, pathway to peace.» from the Foreword, by Margaret E. Stephenson

from the Introduction: "And yet children come into the world endowed with new energies that could correct the e
Sep 14, 2008 Sara rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone, especially parents and teachers
An excellent book! I am at a loss as to how to review this book... I think the key is that it brings understanding to childhood- an understanding, or perhaps a new perspective, more valuable and important than words can do justice.

My impression is that Montessori's approach is in the first place scientific, and that from it springs great love. A treat for me was the religious, Catholic insights that sprinkle the pages.

I don't remember what struck me most when I first read much of this book in J
I must admit, I was a bit disappointed in this book. I was expecting it to be more along the lines of Dr. Montessori's earlier book, The Montessori Method where she went into more depth of exactly how she came to the conclusions on child development that she did. But she didn't - it was a more philosophical book on liberating the child without as many examples of how or why she came to these conclusions from things her students did or said. I often found her philosophy at odds with her professed ...more
Can you imagine pioneering a field of study as broad as childhood? Montessori was born in 1870-- science was something different then-- sperm cells were still "invisible," the mechanism of genetic inheritance was unknown. Within that context, Montessori's approach is even more remarkable. Her language, to modern ears, is oddly neither here nor there-- psuedo-scientific sounding with rhapsodaic odes to the psychic lives of children. Quotes from psalms and mythology high-falute the text. But she w ...more
My favourite Montessori book is The Secret of Childhood. As I read this book, it opened my eyes to show the world of the child. I was able to better communicate with children and I saw what other adults did not see. It was like I had entered a secret garden in which only special adults with special seeing powers could enter. These special seeing powers enabled me to improve my teaching style within the limits that my environment permitted. The secret is made up of small puzzle pieces and they do ...more
I decided to reread Montessori's writing upon returning to work at a Montessori School. This book affirmed why Montessorians do what they do. The reasoning behind Montessori's writing is profound. I seek to continue to embrace the philosophy in my own life as well as my professional life. Respecting the child and allowing their independence within boundaries. I blogged my way through the book starting in August 2014:
Intriguing insight on children and adults. Took a moment to remember she lived at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th.
Out of the three Montessori Method reads I have consumed, I say this one has been the most relevant. Put into perspective my own behavior as the key to nurture her tendencies. Although for me and my nine month old, these things seem at a distant future, really, the understanding should be established now. For their nature begins at day one. Harmony within the home is a high importance. Science concludes all of this. And what love touched these written pages !
My oldest daughter just finished her 2nd year of Montessori preschool, and I read this as part of a book club her teacher and another teacher at the school started. I enjoyed it and found it very informative and relevant. It's surprising how little parent and child behavior has changed over the past 100 years.
Mary Gaudette

This is a philosophical, beautiful book pioneering the concept that children are self-actualizing and adults can either enable their development or repress it. Really enjoyed it and felt it challenged my parenting approach in a few important ways.
Probably the best-written of her books. The more I read and discover about Montessori's approach to life the more determined I am to become a teacher of this philosophy.
Angus Mckay
Always been a fan of Montessori. I'm only a little way into the first chapter, but already thoroughly impressed. Can't wait to find what more there is in here.
Most of the material in this book would not be considered relevant today. Definitely some points that transcend time, however. Ultimately, tough to get through.
One of the first books I ever read about Montessori, and this launched my career shift from software to education.
Jeana Marie
Very informative. Read it while still at uni, now I'm applying most of what I've read to my own kids :)
Not for the average reader, but for a newfound Montessori an, like myself, was an enlightening read.
Of all the Montessori books I read, this is the easiest to comprehend.
read in preparation of searching for a school for my first-born
While I respect some of Montessori's methods, this book is terrible.
Helped me understand my eldest when nothing else did!
Wow - amazing so far!
Ivy Jhoy
Ivy Jhoy marked it as to-read
Nov 24, 2015
Tran Hien
Tran Hien is currently reading it
Nov 24, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 46 47 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work
  • Montessori: A Modern Approach
  • Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius
  • How To Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way
  • Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Pre-School Years
  • Teach Me to Do It Myself: Montessori Activities for You and Your Child
  • Montessori Play And Learn: A Parent's Guide to Purposeful Play from Two to Six
  • Montessori Madness!: A Parent to Parent Argument for Montessori Education
  • The Elements of Grammar
  • The Attachment Parenting Book: A Commonsense Guide to Understanding and Nurturing Your Baby
  • Deschooling Our Lives
  • Children: The Challenge
  • Homeschooling: The Early Years: Your Complete Guide to Successfully Homeschooling the 3- to 8- Year-Old Child
  • Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life
  • Freedom and Beyond
  • Great American Short Stories
  • Diary of a Midwife
  • Endangered Minds: Why Children Dont Think And What We Can Do About It
Maria Montessori was an Italian physician, educator, philosopher, humanitarian and devout Catholic; she is best known for her philosophy and the Montessori method of education of children from birth to adolescence. Her educational method is in use today in a number of public as well as private schools throughout the world.
More about Maria Montessori...

Share This Book