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Math Books

Math in Literature

These are not textbooks,they are literature: picture books, early readers and novels that include mathematics as a natural part of the story.

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Anno's Counting Book
Mitsumasa Anno
ISBN: 0064431231, Published by HarperTrophy, 32 pages. Editorial Review

What kind of a counting book is this? On the first page all we see is a barren winter landscape--a hazy, blue sky above a hazy, white hill. Nothing to count here. But wait, this is zero! On the next page the scene brightens: one tree, one bird, one house. Turn the page again and the snow has started to melt--we find two buildings, two trucks, two trees, two children, two dogs, and two adults. Suddenly there is almost more than we can count on each page! The objects in the beautiful watercolor pictures correspond with each consecutive number, and in addition (so to speak), the number of items on the page increases exponentially.

Mitsumasa Anno, author and illustrator of the award-winning Anno's Journey, has crafted a lovely medium to help kids learn to count. His love for numbers is reflected in the symmetry of every page, as well as his respect for the mathematical relationships that occur all around us. What kind of a counting book is this? The graceful, intelligent, engaging kind.

Anno's Math Games
by Mitsumasa Anno
ISBN: 0698116712, Published by Paper Star, 103 pages.

Card catalog description

Picture puzzles, games, and simple activities introduce the mathematical concepts of multiplication, sequence and ordinal numbering, measurement, and direction.

Anno's Mysterious Multiplying Jar
by Masaichiro and Mitsumasa Anno
ISBN: 0698117530, Published by Paper Star, 48 pages.

Book Description

"Superbly demonstrating the conception of factorials in mathematics, the text and pictures combine to present a lesson in a palatable form as well as the pleasure of looking at pictures that only Mitsumasa Anno could invent." - Publishers Weekly

Can You Count to a Googol?
by Robert E. Wells
ISBN: 0807510610, Published by Albert Whitman & Co, 32 pages.

Card catalog description

Introduces the concepts of very large numbers, up to a googol, and multiples of ten.

Half Magic
by Edward Eager
ISBN: 0152020683, Published by Harcourt, 192 pages. Editorial Review

Edward Eager has been delighting young readers for more than 40 years with stories that mix magic and reality. Half Magic, the most popular of his tales about four children who encounter magical coins, time-travel herb gardens, and other unlikely devices, is a warm, funny, original adventure. The "Half Magic" of the title refers to a coin that the children find. Through a comical series of coincidences, they discover that the coin is magic. Well, it's not totally magic--it's only (you guessed it) half magic. That means there's a certain logic to the wishes one must make to generate a desired outcome. Imagine the results emerging from inaccurate efforts: "half" invisible, "half" rescued, "half" everything!

Half Magic is never too cute, and with just enough emotion to complement the magic, this book is sure to hold a special place in any child's library. (The publisher suggests the book for kids ages 9-12, but it's fun enough to read aloud to those slightly younger and clever enough for kids who are a bit older.)

The Number Devil
by Hans Magnus Enzensberger
ISBN: 0805062998, Published by Henry Holt & Company, 262 pages. Editorial Review

Young Robert's dreams have taken a decided turn for the weird. Instead of falling down holes and such, he's visiting a bizarre magical land of number tricks with the number devil as his host. Starting at one and adding zero and all the rest of the numbers, Robert and the number devil use giant furry calculators, piles of coconuts, and endlessly scrolling paper to introduce basic concepts of numeracy, from interesting number sequences to exponents to matrices. Author Hans Magnus Enzensberger's dry humor and sense of wonder will keep you and your kids entranced while you learn (shhh!) mathematical principles. Who could resist the little red guy who calls prime numbers "prima donnas," irrational numbers "unreasonable," and roots "rutabagas"? Not that the number devil is without his devilish qualities. He loses his temper when Robert looks for the easy way out of a number puzzle or dismisses math as boring and useless. "What do you expect?" he asks. "I'm the number devil, not Santa Claus." (Ages 10 to adult) - Therese Littleton

Related Resources

PBS TeacherSource Recommended Books: Math
Mini reviews of math books, grade levels included. Updated monthly.

Math Manipulatives and Tools
Hands-on manipulatives and tools for teaching math.

Paper Engineering
An introduction to the art and science of building things with paper.

Links and resources for exploring these collapsible geometric paper models.

The essence of mathematics is not to make simple things complicated, but to make complicated things simple. - S. Gudder

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