Storybooks provide a rich opportunity to build not only literacy skills, but also math understanding. Books with math concepts woven into the pictures and storylines can promote children's mathematical thinking and introduce foundational math concepts such as numbers, shapes, patterns, and measurement. Asking questions and making observations about the math found in picture books can support children’s curiosity and enjoyment of math.
Like many engaging pieces of children’s literature, the math picture books recommended below contain fun and interesting storylines. Many are rooted in topics kids love (like animals, dinosaurs, magic, oceans, and more!).
For example, Quack and Countby Keith Baker is about seven ducklings quacking, sliding, and flying in marshland. Throughout the beautifully illustrated story, the seven ducklings form different groups that can be added and always make seven. While reading, children can explore counting and addition as they practice counting a group of ducks that are not always neatly in a row and in fact may be hard to see—a challenging but enjoyable task.
The most important rule to keep in mind when selecting and reading a math picture book is to enjoy the stories and enjoy the children enjoying the stories! Read often, smile, and laugh. Learn more tips for reading math picture books with young children in this guide. If you’re a teacher or teacher educator, find tips for using math picture books in the classroom.
Explore our list of recommended picture books organized by math topic.
Quack and Count by Keith Baker
Rooster’s Off to See the World by Eric Carle
Elevator Magic by Stuart J. Murphy
One is a Snail, Ten is a Crab by April Pulley Sayre and Jeff Sayre
Albert Adds Up by Eleanor May
Anno’s Counting Book by Mitsumasa Anno
Feast for 10 by Cathryn Falwell
Eric Carle’s 123 by Eric Carle
Fish Eyes: A Book You Can Count On by Lois Ehlert
Zero is the Leaves on the Trees by Betsy Franco
Mouse Count by Ellen Stoll Walsh
How Do Dinosaurs Count to Ten by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
Hippos Go Berserk! by Sandra Boynton
Who Eats First? by Ae-hae Yoon
Just a Little Bit by Ann Tompert
Balancing Act by Ellen Stoll Walsh
Next to an Ant by Mara Rockliff
Inch by Inch by Leo Leonni
The Growing Story by Ruth Krauss
Anno’s Magic Seeds by Mitsumasa Anno
Two of Everything: A Chinese Folktale by Lily Toy Hong
Mr. Noisy's Book of Patterns by Rozanne L. Williams
The Shape of Things by Dayle Ann Dodds
Have You Seen My Monster? by Steve Light
Circus Shapes by Stuart J. Murphy
The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns
Mice on Ice by Eleanor May
Mouse Shapes by Ellen Stoll Walsh
Round is a Tortilla by Roseanne Thong
When a Line Bends, a Shape Begins by Rhonda Growler Greene
Albert is Not Scared by Eleanor May
Inside, Outside, Upside Down by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Piggies in the Pumpkin Patch by Mary Peterson
Up, Down, and Around by Katherine Ayres
Where's Spot? by Eric Hills
The Secret Birthday Message by Eric Carle
Changes, Changes by Pat Hutchins
Over, Under, and Through by Tana Hoban
Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins
12 Ways to Get to 11 by Eve Merriam
Ten Friends by Bruce Goldstone
Colleen Uscianowski is a postdoctoral researcher at Teachers College, Columbia University, and a member of DREME's Family Math project. Her research interests include teaching early math concepts through narratives and improving math understanding in children with learning disabilities.
Herbert P. Ginsburg is the Jacob H. Schiff Professor of Psychology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a primary investigator for the Family Math and the Early Math Resources for Teacher Educators projects of the DREME Network.