Editor's note: A version of this post was originally published on October 29, 2013.
Growing a "math library" might not be what comes to mind when you're visiting a bookstore or library with your child. However, there are terrific books out there that will stimulate your child's mathematical thinking and reasoning.
Children don't learn math the same way we did 20 years ago. Today, kids in math class keep math journals and spend time explaining their thinking rather than rote memorization. Your child should be able to apply new concepts to real-life problems and use reasoning to respond to different situations. Picture books are a great way to encourage this type of thinking and develop these conversations. They also help your child make connections to what she's learning in the classroom and her everyday environment.
No matter how old they are, children love read-alouds. As a teacher, I would start every school year off by reading The Math Curse by Jon Scieszka. It follows a day in the life of a young girl who is given a math spell by her teacher and begins to look at everything as a math problem. With this in mind, my students and I would chart the different ways we used math in our everyday lives. They were always amazed at how much we rely on math to be successful. Consider putting this "spell" on your family, and spend a day noting all the different math problems you and your child encounter.
Below are some great books to help build your child's math library.
1. Explore counting and learning about all different types of interesting bugs with The Icky Bug Counting Book by Jerry Pallotta.
2. Practice counting to 20 using a favorite cereal — Cheerios — with The Cheerios Counting Book by Barbara Barbieri McGrath. This rhyming book will bring fruit and cereals to life while counting all the way to 100.
3. In A Place for Zero: A Math Adventure by Angeline Sparagna LoPresti, kids will help Zero find a place in the land of Digitaria while exploring place value and large numbers.
4. Open up a Hershey’s chocolate bar and discover fractions in a fun and delicious way in The Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar Fractions Book by Jerry Pallotta.
5. Explore the concept of division in The Great Divide: A Mathematical Marathon by Dayle Ann Dodds. In the book, 80 racers for a cross-country race will face dangers that divide up the group.
6. In The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Robert, who hates math, meets a Number Devil who helps him discover the world of numbers through different dreams.
7. Secrets, Lies, and Algebra by Wendy Lichtman features Tess, an eighth-grade girl who loves math. She uses her knowledge of mathematical concepts to understand things changing in her life.
8. Explore the idea of circumference through solving math riddles with Radius and Sir Cumference in Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi by Cindy Neuschwander.
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