Mathematics can be a challenge to some kids and here are some excellent books to help them understand amounts, balances, money and problem solving. All of these books are picture books and are good for ages four and up.
The Rabbit Problem, by Emily Gravett, is actually based on a math problem posed by thirteenth century Fibonacci. The inside cover displays the story problem that asks if a pair of rabbits are put into a field, how many pairs will there be by the end of each month and at the end of the year? Upon turning the page, you will begin a most creative journey through the year with the book set on its side and the looks of a monthly calendar appears. With the turn of each month, the parent rabbits are presented with new problems which help teach the reader weather related problems. There are die-cut holes, small booklets and a pop-up at the end. The watercolors, oil-based pencil and carrots used make this a very clever read!
This Plus That: Life’s Little Equations, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and painted with simple watercolors, pen and ink illustrations by Jen Corace, will definitely teach that addition adds up to much more than just numbers. Some of the equations are whimsical (“chalk + sitting = school” but “chalk + jumping = hopscotch”) and others have a serious undertone(“blaming + eye rolling does not = sincere apology” but “I’m sorry + hug = sincere apology.”) The simple watercolors, pen and ink combination + the simple text = a great life learning book.
Balancing Act, by Ellen Stoll Walsh, is all about balance when two mice put together a rock and a stick making a teeter-totter. But the balance is about to become unbalanced when a larger salamander joins in. Balance is achieved once again when another salamander joins the opposite end. And so it continues with more animals in the balancing fun. There’s much more going on in this simple book than meets the eye such as colors and animal types. In fact, the cut-paper collage and acrylic paints make a perfect balance.
Let’s Count Goats!, by Mem Fox, and digitally illustrated by Jan Thomas, is a fun and funny counting book by one of the best early-literacy authors. Ms. Fox hits the mark here with catchy, humorous phrases concerning these hilarious goats. The bright bold colors and laughable goat expressions are endearingly fun.
One Drowsy Dragon, by Ethan Long, has one larger dragon experiencing one long sleepless night as many smaller dragons (count them) appear to not be ready for bed. The noisy, restless night makes the small dragons tired, but what happens to that one drowsy dragon? The digitally illustrated colors of muted blues, purples and greens make for a sleepy or sleepless night.
Bunny Money, by Stephen Krensky, and painted by Emily Bolam, is a story about four little bunnies going to the store to buy their mother a hat for her birthday. As they empty their pockets to see if all their change can equal the dollar required for the hat, the bear clerk begins a money lesson to show what pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters add up to. There are also small change stickers and a store scene to practice buying items in the store.
Lyle Walks the Dogs: A Counting Book, by Bernard Waber, and painted with watercolor, ink and pencil by Paulis Waber, is another story about this favorite crocodile. Lyle loves to walk and he loves dogs. Each day he adds a new dog to his walk and the reader gets to help Lyle keep track of the rambunctious dogs, especially when a squirrel hypes things up. There’s even a fun counting exercise located on the back cover.
Curious George: Learns to Count From 1 to 100 (Counting, Grouping, Mapping and More!), illustrated in the style of H. A. Rey by Ann Grossnickle Hines, is filled with mind challenging activities, besides counting such as grouping, mapping and sorting questions. And check out the last page where you can count all the way to 100!
Double Play! Monkeying Around With Addition, by Betsy Franco, and illustrated with full-page watercolors by Doug Cushman, is all about applying math into real life. These fun-loving monkeys add up friends, knots in ropes and more during recess making addition come alive. Check out the math equations in the beginning and end pages.
Happy 100th Day!, by Susan Milord, and brightly illustrated by Mary Newell DePalma, is one of the best 100 day celebratory books on the market! Graham isn’t thrilled to be back in school and now he has to celebrate the 100th day coming up. He gets into the spirit of counting and so will you. Check out the back page of more items to count.
And here are two books that have many concepts, which include math, to help little ones get ready for school concepts: Maisy’s Amazing Big Book of Learning, (More than Forty Flaps and Tons of Fun!) by Lucy Cousins, and Everything I Need to Know Before I’m Five by Valorie Fisher.
And lastly, two small books for toddlers to learn about amounts: One, Two, Buckle My Shoe: A Counting Nursery Rhyme by Salina Yoon and Five Little Chicks by Nancy Tafuri.