Reggio-inspired Books

A list of inspiring and useful books about the Reggio Emilia Approach

I think the Reggio Emilia Approach can seem a little overwhelming when you first start looking into it a bit more.  How the approach works, why such a focus on the atelier (art studio) and the experiences that happen in there, the range of materials and how to use them, can all seem a little confusing.

However, it is really about how we view the child, how we view learning and how we view life; the connectedness of the three.

The child as capable, independent, inquisitive and innately driven to learn.

Learning as an experience, not separate from, but deeply rooted in life,

and life, the world around us, part of us, open and available for the children to explore and discover, to interact with, naturally.

Working, exploring, creating with real materials; discussing options, problem-solving, directing their own play, free to wonder, it all comes together and you can truly see the beauty in this approach.

The Reggio Emilia Approach is an early childhood approach intended for preschools. While the fundamental principles can be effectively applied to beyond this as well as for infants and toddlers, I have not really come across too many books which don’t focus on preschool settings. Saying this though, there are some which I would recommend. These are the books I refer to most often:

Bringing Reggio Emilia Home: An Innovative Approach to Early Childhood Education 

This book is fantastic. It tracks the journey of an American teacher who travelled to Reggio Emilia to study the approach and then returned to implement the principles in a group of American early childhood centres. It gives an excellent overview of the approach. It is a wordy book though with very few pictures.

The Hundred Languages of ChildrenThe Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Experience in Transformation

This book is a bit wordy with few pictures but it is also an inspiring read. The book contains actual interviews with Loris Malaguzzi and so gives a thorough understanding of the Reggio Emilia Approach including the basic principles, thoughts on the importance of an Atelier, an explanation of the hundred languages, the importance of a child’s environment and listening and observing from a Reggio perspective.

Designs for Living and Learning: Transforming Early Childhood Environments

 As the name suggests, this books provides strategies for creating inspiring and engaging environments for children. While the pictures are a little dated, the information is still useful. This book (as well as the next dot point), for me, have been the most informative for applying the Reggio Emilia Approach, with lots of practical suggestions that can be transferred from the pre-school setting to the home.

Learning Together with Young Children: A Curriculum Framework for Reflective Teachers

While this book is intended for teachers, it very concisely explains how to create an engaging environment for children using Reggio-inspired principles.

Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners

This is the only book I have found which focusses on applying child-led explorations at home. While the book is a homeschooling guide for parents, you don’t need to be homeschooling to get enormous benefit from it. I would recommend buying this book. Personable and practical.

Rapunzel’s Supermarket: All about Young Children and Their Art

This book was first published back in 2001 and while the pictures are a little dated now the information in this book is still very inspiring and informative. Rapunzel’s Supermarket is not your typical children’s art book, it talks about shapes, colours, textures, light and shadow, as well as drawing, painting, clay and collage but from a perspective of discovery. If you have any questions about how to present Reggio-inspired art activities/experiences for your children then this book will fill you with inspiration.

In the Spirit of the Studio: Learning from the Atelier of Reggio Emilia

 This book focusses on the role of art in the Reggio Emilia Approach. It gives a very thorough background to the importance of art in Reggio-inspired settings, the thinking behind it, as well as practical suggestions for creating an atelier (art area) in your own school (or home). The photos in this book, while a little dated, are very inspiring for understanding how Reggio focusses on art which makes learning visible as opposed to art activities or craft projects.

The Language of Art: Reggio-Inspired Studio Practices in Early Childhood Settings  

I have found this book very useful and inspiring. I am a novice when it comes to art and so this book has really helped me to understand different art mediums and processes and how to apply them in order to create an art experience. It introduces different art mediums like watercolour paints, oil pastels, chalk pastels, clay and loose parts as well as suggesting for presenting them to children. I really like this book. Worth purchasing.

The Art of Awareness: How Observation Can Transform Your Teaching

 This book really is intended for teachers in an educational setting. It provides small lessons for teachers to complete in a group situation. However the information that it provides is still useful. The book focusses on observing children, truly seeing them, and using these observations to guide the experiences you offer. The lessons, while intended for teachers, give you plenty of opportunity to practice you observation skills but mostly I liked how it gives strategies to use your observations effectively.



Setting up a Reggio-inspired Activity

20 Replies to “Reggio-inspired Books”

  1. Thanks so much for all the information Kate, it’s really helpful! Looked for the Rapunzel’s Supermarket book, but I think it’s not available here in USA. Ordered the learning together book from the library, can’t wait to start. Doing the gel bags this weekend, so excited to see how my son will react 🙂

    1. I think Repunzel’s Supermarket is an Australian book. It’s good but the learning together book has lots of very specific things you can do to order your environment and set up provocations. Even though it is intended for preschools, I still get a lot from it, there is definitely a lot that you can do at home. I hope you like it.

    2. Not sure if you’ve found Rapunzel’s Supermarket yet. I purchased it from Amazon what seems like ages ago … and it’s still available! 🙂 Have a great day.

  2. copying my comments over from your post, i really like “authentic childhood: experiencing reggio emilia in the classroom” by fraser and gestwicki. and even though it is kind of a mixed bag, i think there is a tremendous amount of value in “the hundred languages of children.” those are the books i refer to most often.

    i would also recommend “first steps toward teaching the reggio way” if you can get it through the library. and ursula kolbe has another great book, “it’s not a bird yet.”

    one of my favorite educational theory books is ivan illich’s “deschooling society.” you can actually read it online for free.

    thank you again so much for your kind words about my book!

    1. I only speak the truth 😀 But seriously, you really have put together such an invaluable guide for parents. I love it and refer to it almost daily!

      I’m going to check out those other books. Unfortunately our libraries here don’t have a lot of these types of books which is a shame. But if you recommend those other ones I might just go and buy them. I also find a lot of reassurance in Alfie Kohn’s writing and John Holt’s writing on unschooling.

    2. I have to attest to Lori’s suggestion about authentic childhood. I am currently going through it, and it is indeed very good.

      1. I’ll have to have a look then 🙂

  3. Kate- this looks like a lot of my book shelf. I am a shocker for buying books on fishpond. I will have to look at the project based book- looks interesting 🙂

    1. Not sure what is happening with my name there.


    2. Me too 🙂 I keep telling myself that I should read other books besides homeschooling and Reggio books 🙂 I have Emma sitting on my bedside table but still haven’t read the first page…

  4. What book would you recommend for someone who is just starting to learn about the Reggio approach?

    1. Hi Emily. If you have Learning Together with Young Children and Designs for Living and Learning at your local library, I would recommend starting there. Are you an Early Childhood teacher? Many books (well most that I have found) apply to educators wanting to implement some of the principles into their centres but they still have a lot of useful information if you are a parent (like me) that you can transfer to the home. A lot of it is really practical information too.

      If you are looking for something more theoretical, an understanding of the Reggio Emilia Approach in more detail then I would recommend The Hundred Languages of Children

      This is the only book (that I know of) that was written by educators in Reggio Emilia including Loris Malaguzzi (the founder of The Reggio Emilia Approach).

      1. Thank you for your reply Kate. I will look for those books. I live in Canada and have found that there is limited Reggio resources at our library. I was a teacher but like you I have decided to stay home with my child. I also run a day home out of my home and wanted to begin the transition to Reggio with my child as well as with my day home children.

        1. Our library here doesn’t have much either, I’ve bought most of mine. For your home daycare, I think you would definitely find a lot of useful and inspiring information from the two I suggested. I refer to them a lot when I am thinking about ways to present different activities and invitations.

  5. Hello!
    I love the list you have provided, as a fellow Reggio blogger, I have read and recommend many of the same books you listed. I am currently reading Designs for Living and Learning; I cannot believe it’s taken me so long to read it, so inspiring! Anyway, I would add to your list “Bambini: the Italian Approach to Infant/Toddler Care” which is a very informative book on applying the principles of the Reggio Approach to work with kids under 3years old, it’s a pretty quick read and quite useful. I would also HIGHLY recommend Alfie Kohn’s book, “Unconditional Parenting” if you have not read it. This book is written for parents but I have found it extremely useful as an early childhood educator as it helps me be more mindful of how I communicate with children, helps me see things from their perspective, and invites me to continually reflect on my practices and why I do things the way I do. It is very much in line with the Reggio view of the child. Kohn is a fantastic writer and when your kids get older (or any time) check out his other books, he’s written a ton on transforming public education and all of it is incredibly inspiring and in sync with many Reggio ideas.

    I love reading your blog, it is always exciting to find others who are equally passionate about authentic education, keep it up!


  6. Hi Kate 🙂 Just wondering which of these books you may suggest to help me with a new look to our preschool. I’m really looking for clear ideas for set-up/play areas for our classroom.

  7. Hi, our school in South Africa is looking to implement Reggio teaching in the Art room. I will be teaching elementary level kids. Any book you recommend for these ages? <3

    1. Hi Taryn. How wonderful that you school is looking to implement more Reggio principles. I would definitely recommend The Language of Art. It is an incredible book which gives you a very thorough understanding of how to implement art in your practices. I also recommend Designs for Living and Learning for ideas on setting up classrooms as well as Learning Together with Young Children for ideas on how to present explorations as well as extend and document. Bringing Reggio Home is a wordy book but an excellent example of how one teacher brought Reggio Emilia principles into their school in the US.

  8. Thanks for sharing your knowledge, thoughts and inspirations. I have really enjoyed reading your posts. I used to work at a Reggio-inspired daycare centre, and now wanting to try Reggio- inspired home schooling with my 8 month old baby boy. I recommend the book “it’s not a bird yet”. It’s one of my favorite Reggio related books, sharing insights of children using the tool of drawing, and how educators can support children in this aspect.

    I have been wondering though. Since group learning is one of my favorite element in Reggio approach. How can you support that with home schooling. Look forward to hearing your insights.

  9. Well this is just wonderful. I was just looking up local pre-school options in the area (I live in Gunnison) and remembered seeing your groups out at parks in Gunnison last summer – I was VERY impressed with the teachers. My mom is a Reggio scholar and I have been twice to the schools – she is co-editor of the Studio book above (Lynn Hill) – note there is a new second edition with some pretty great updates!

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