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How to build a DIY Montessori front-facing bookshelf – PDF Plans!

Do your kids love reading? This DIY Montessori front-facing bookshelf is a hit with kids! It allows them to see all of their books and pick which one they want to read!

We all know young kids love to read, and they often want to pick from the same selection of books over and over.

However, a traditional bookshelf that shows the spines of books facing out is not great for toddlers who don’t know how to read. They need to see the covers of their favorite books to recognize them!

This front-facing bookshelf is the perfect height for toddlers to be able to reach their own books and bring them to you. Customize it for your kids by painting or staining it to match your playroom decor!

diy montessori bookshelf with printable pdf plans

How to build a Montessori front-facing bookshelf

Building bookshelves are relatively easy. Two sides, a top and bottom and some shelves in between.

A Montessori front-facing bookshelf is a little more difficult to build without knowing what it is.

Looking for other Montessori toys? Make sure to check our DIY versions of a Pikler triangle, Pikler climbing arch, and this toddler-sized workbench!

Toddler with front facing bookshelf

What is a front-facing bookshelf?

A Montessori front-facing bookshelf is designed for a child’s books to have the cover facing out toward them, so they can see it and recognize it.

With the book covers facing your child, it is easier for them to find the book they want. It’s also (theoretically) easier for them to put the books away when they are done with them.

This project pairs really well with our DIY kids art display!

Toddler reaching for book

Our child adores this National Geographic book about animals and his collection of “This Little” books.

It’s also easier for your child to put their books away, compared to putting them onto a shelf in the traditional way.

DIY Montessori front-facing bookshelf - Charleston Crafted

How to build a DIY Montessori bookshelf

Montessori bookshelves have the books facing forward on each shelf. They stay on the shelf by leaning, thanks to a small lip that rises up from the shelf below it.

To build a DIY version of a front-facing bookshelf, you’ll need to plan how wide you want it to be and how tall. Keep in mind it needs to not be too tall that a toddler can’t reach.

You can follow our plans for a DIY Montessori front-facing bookshelf to get the full dimensions and cuts!

CLICK HERE to purchase the Printable PDF Woodworking Plans Bookshelf

Step one: build shelves

To build the bookshelf, you need to build four shelves and then connect them together with a lip on each shelf.

We did all of our joining using our Kreg Jig pocket hole jig.

Building shelves for front facing bookshelf

Step two: add sides

The sides are cut at an angle to mirror the progression up the shelves.

To cut angles on long pieces of plywood, you’ll need to use a long straight edge guide to keep your circular saw in line. It’s best to draw out the line and then follow it with the saw.

We designed our forward facing bookshelf to include a small platform at the top, where you child can put figurines or display different toys.

Our son loves to play with his Sesame Street figurines at the top.

Adding sides to front-facing bookshelf

Step three: Stain or paint if desired

The best thing about building your own forward-facing bookshelf is that you can customize it in the end. Add your own stain or paint colors to match the decor in your child’s playroom.

Side view of front facing bookshelf

Step four: secure to wall

As with all furniture in a home with children, make sure you secure this item to the wall after you build it. This is a great kit to add to this bookshelf and all your other furniture.

A front-facing bookshelf can look especially enticing to a toddler as it may resemble stairs.

Ensure it is secured to the wall in case your toddler is reaching for something up high. We wrote an entire post on how to anchor furniture to the wall that you can read through.

Prefer to buy a bookshelf? Here are my favorite front facing bookshelves available for sale!

Full view of Montessori front facing bookshelf

DIY Montessori front-facing bookshelf woodworking plans!

If you love this project and want to make one for your children or grandchildren, we can make that easier for you!

CLICK HERE to purchase the Printable PDF Woodworking Plans Bookshelf

We designed a full set of printable woodworking plans that show you exactly what you need to do to make one yourself. Our plans come with a full material list, cut list, and step-by-step instructions with computer model imagery to help you!

Check out our tutorial + woodworking plans for how to build a kids learning tower!

how to build a montessori bookshelf with pdf woodworking plans

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The Best Front Facing Bookshelves for your Montessori Playroom - Celebrating with kids

Wednesday 2nd of June 2021

[…] built our own DIY front facing bookshelf, but I know that some of you might prefer to purchase […]


Thursday 30th of July 2020

Wow, how cute! I think somebody loves his book and his toddler size books shelve. What a cutie you have.


Monday 20th of July 2020

This looks great! Can’t wait to see it set up in the new house! wonder how many I would need for my dude’s collection?! ‍♀️


Monday 20th of July 2020

it's wonderful your son LOVES books! That bookcase NEVER would have worked 4 me. When I found out I was pregnant I joined a book club 7 free books just pay shipping & just buy 4 more in the next year. My husband,aunt, uncle, friend and brother also signed up. I paid for EVERYBODY. The 7 free books well... I made sure I chose sets with MULTIPLE BOOKS. So i was getting 20- 30 books in the first "free shipment" Not only did i choce young kids books but i had books up through 8th grade. My hubby said he had never known a kid to have so MANY books BEFORE they were even born. So glad i did. In 1st grade they put her in a special class and in 2nd grade she was doing 6th grade work! I did the same with the scholastic book flyers from school. I was the ONLY parent who ordered books for their kid.(A VERY SAD commentary on kids in this day and age.)She let me order from 4-5 flers at a time. So I was able to get the best sale prices on multiple book sets still I was spending 100-200 bucks at a time . WE NEVER REGRETTED IT!! Reading will help your son in so many ways in his lifetime! I AM SO GLAD that you enourage his LOVE OF READING!!!


Tuesday 21st of July 2020

This is just his NEWEST bookshelf. He already has two more. This one will just be front facing and installed in his new playroom when we move. He can't wait!

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