Fabulous books for kids aged 0 to 12-years-old that just happen to be about math

Book reviews -

Fabulous books for kids aged 0 to 12-years-old that just happen to be about math

As a parent who is interested in incorporating STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) into our home lives, I find that I sometimes fall a bit short when it comes to ideas for fun ways to build same maths into our time together. Cooking is fabulous but with younger kids is messy, requires consideration and planning and takes time. As a working parent, it isn't always the most appealing option.

One thing we never skip is a bed time story. In an effort to increase the conversations that we have about maths, I have started introducing books that incorporate maths into some of our night time reading. I have found that a lot of books that try to incorporate maths fail to engage on a story level.

To save you from having to go through the duds to find the jewels, I have listed a few stories for a range of ages that we have enjoyed recently. The book covers and titles are affiliate links and if you click on them, they will take you to the Book Depository which I have found is generally the best value for book purchases.

 

1 2 Pirate Stew

1, 2, Pirate Stew – Kylie Howarth

Ages 0 - 3 years

A lovely story counting from 1 to 22 while following a pair of children on their pirate adventure. They work up a great appetite and are very happy when they get to 22 and can eat their “pirate stew”.

The illustrations in this book are simple and sweet and the rhyming is a fun and gentle way to introduce counting.

The Waterhole - Graeme Base

The Waterhole – Graeme Base

Ages 2+

Graeme Base is an Australian author and illustrator. His illustrations are vivid in this book about animals from different parts of the world who gather at a waterhole to drink.

On each page, there are an increasing number of animals who come to drink at the waterhole. But the waterhole is shrinking!

The book is great for counting from 1 to 10 with younger children. There is also an underlying environmental message about the importance of water to life on earth that can be used as a discussion point with older children.

This book has so many layers, there are animals that you can search out on each page, drawn cleverly into the background. It is possible to read this book over and over for the numbers and for a child to get something more out of every single reading.

Peg And Cat the Penguin Problem

Peg + Cat – The penguin problem – Jennifer Oxley

Ages 2 – 4

I like the show Peg + Cat. A lot of my friends find Peg’s melodrama a bit much but she actually reminds me of myself now that I have kids - she frequently has to count backwards from five to calm down!

The concepts in this book are basic. The story is about a group of penguins who want to compete in the Animal Winter Games but can’t navigate an obstacle course. Peg realises that they don’t understand the concepts of under, over and around. She works with the penguins to help them to develop their skills and with her help, they win their race.

Ethan (age 2½)  is happy to hear this one over and over again! We usually put our engineering skills to the test at the end of the book and construct our own obstacle course to practice the instructions!

Double the Ducks

Double the Ducks – Stuart J Murphy (MathStart)

Ages 3 – 6 years

This book is put out by Mathstart. I love their books. The stories are creative and stand on their own but each book incorporates a mathematical concept. This book is a level one (easy concepts). It is about a boy who has five ducks to care for. Initially the story works through the numbers from one to five while talking about how the boy cares for his ducks. Then the ducks go for a walk and bring back another five ducks. The boy then goes through the process of doubling the numbers from one to five.

I read this book to Ethan (age 2 ½) and Lily (age 5) at the same time. Ethan just liked to talk about the ducks and to count them while Lily was happy working on the doubling in the second half of the book.

Leaping Lizards

Leaping Lizards - Stuart J Murphy (MathStart)

Ages 3 – 6 years

The lizards are supposed to be putting on a show. They are colourful and fun but there are only 5 of them and they need 50 for the show to go ahead. As more lizards turn up, children learn to count by 5s and 10s until there are enough lizards for the show to go on.

This is a fun book. It will introduce the idea of skip counting for younger children and is a great companion for children who are learning skip counting in school as it is a fun way to practice at home.

Peg And Cat The Lemonade Problem

Peg + Cat – The lemonade problem – Jennifer Oxley

Ages 4 – 6

Peg and Cat start a lemonade stand. In this book, they explore the concepts of less and more. Peg and Cat need cups for their lemonade. Their friend can offer them 2 cups but they need 20!

A graph shows Cat that 2 is a lot less than 20. Cat needs to go somewhere else. Meanwhile, Peg tries to work out how many marbles she should charge per cup of lemonade. Ten marbles are too many, people won’t pay that, but 2 marbles seems to be about right.

This is a good book for concepts of less and more and also for an introduction to the concept of how pricing works. There are 2 graphs in the book which are very simple and were a great introduction to graphs for Lily (age 5).

Subtraction Action

Subtraction Action – Loreen Leedy

Ages 5 – 7

This is a surprise recommendation for me. When I first opened this book, I thought that the pages were too crowded and that Lily (now aged 6) would find them too confusing. I had actually decided not to read it to her but she found it and started looking at it herself. She then asked me to read through it with her. She liked the pictures and the scenarios and was therefore happy working through the relatively straightforward (sometimes quite simple) maths problems.

So here I am recommending this as a bed time maths story because it really grabbed Lily and we have read it several times since at her request.

The Sundae Scoop 

The Sundae Scoop – Stuart J Murphy (MathStart)

Ages 6 – 8 years

I love this book. It is about a group of children and the person who manages the school cafeteria. They are getting together to make an ice-cream stall for the school fair. They need to plan what they will serve. Using the idea of building a menu for ice-cream sundaes with six ingredients, readers realise that through the mix and match process that if they use two ice-cream flavours, two sauces and two types of topping, they can actually offer 8 different sundaes. The book then explores what happens when ingredients start to run out or get spilled.

Reading with Lily (age 6) was fun and she was quite interested in discussing the topic in a bit more detail. We read it as a bed time story but I think that it would be a good intro into some imaginative play about running a shop of some kind with different combinations on offer.

Sir Cumference and the First Round Table

Sir Cumference and the First Round Table – Cindy Neuschwander

Ages 6 – 10

I really enjoyed reading this book. It is so clever. The story follows a knight, his wife and their son. The knight is called to a conference with King Arthur and several other knights from the kingdom. They need to discuss what appears to be an impending invasion by their neighbours. Unfortunately, the table that King Arthur has everyone seated at, is not conducive to a constructive conversation between so many people.

There are many iterations of the table being cut up and made into various shapes before, Lady Di (Sir Cumference’s wife) finds the solution.

There are all sorts of geometry lessons to be learned from this book and what I loved was that Lily picked many of them to discuss without me pointing them out.

I also liked that the story is actually interesting which isn’t the case with all maths based books.

Note: There are a couple of measurements written in the illustrations that are in feet rather than metres.

Sir Cumference and all the Kings Tens

Sir Cumference and all the Kings Tens - Cindy Neuschwander

Ages 6 – 10

Sir Cumference and Lady Di are throwing a birthday party for the King. Thousands of guests have been invited and when they all turn up, Lady Di has a lot of trouble trying to work out how many guests need to be catered for.

Eventually Sir Cumference and Lady Di solve their problem by grouping their guests. First in groups of 10 and then by moving groups of 10 together to make 100s and 1000s.

Through a very entertaining story children learn about grouping as a way of counting quickly and also about place values and multiplication.

As always in this series, I could not be happier with my purchase.

All Shapes and Sizes – Murderous Maths

All Shapes and Sizes – Murderous Maths – Kjartan Poskitt

Ages 9+

This is an introduction to geometry in cartoon form. It deals with some difficult concepts in a fun, cartoony way. Kids learn some of the technical details of circles and triangles and learn about angles, area and perimeter.

I think that this is a great companion book for kids who are starting to work with these concepts either at school or at home because they are showing an interest.

Math Potatoes - Greg Tang

Math Potatoes – Greg Tang

10+

The premise and execution of this book is clever. There is a math problem to be solved on each page. There are many ways to do this but the author encourages readers to look for shortcuts by finding patterns and groups in number problems.

I wasn’t able to work out several of the clues at first, but after you have looked up the answers to a few, you begin to get the idea and apply the principles to the rest of the problems. This is a good book for prompting creative mathematical problem solving.

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