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40 Children’s Books That Foster a Love of Math

May 30 2019

Posted In:

General, Parents, Teachers

By Colleen Uscianowski and Herbert P. Ginsburg, Teachers College, Columbia University

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. 

Adding and Subtracting

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

Counting

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

Measurement and Size

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

Patterns and Algebra

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

Shape

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

Spatial Relations

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

Taking Apart Numbers

12 Ways to Get to 11 by Eve Merriam

Ten Friends by Bruce Goldstone

View this list on Goodreads and download a copy in PDF format to take with you to the library or bookstore.

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.

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