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For Families » Math-Oriented Books » For All Readers

Books for All Readers

Arithmetic E
by Carl Sandburg, illustrated by Ted Rand
Harcourt Young Classics [April 1993]
ASIN: 0152038655

Mathematics Subject: Number Sense

Carl Sandburg playfully uses language to talk about numbers and making sense of them. In this edition, the illustrator has used anamorphic images (distorted pictures) to illustrate some of the rather slippery mathematics kids encounter every day. There is also a mirror-like sheet that can be used to “decode” the illustrations and directions on making anamorphic drawings on your own. Read “Arithmetic” online.

The Borrowers
by Mary Norton, illustrated by Beth Krush and Joe Krush
Odyssey Classics Reissue edition [September 1989] ISBN: 0152099905

Mathematics Subject[s]: Measurement & Geometry, Number Sense

Scale, proportion, and comparison are all part of this tale about a tiny family called the Clocks. Living in a wall of a full-sized family home, the Clocks live up to their reputation as Borrowers, taking items from the household around them for their own purposes. This intricate symbiosis continues swimmingly for some time – until one of the Clocks reveals herself to a new boy who has moved into the house. Other titles about the Borrowers from the same author include The Borrowers Afield, The Borrowers Afloat, and The Borrowers Avenged.

Counting on Frank
By Rod Clement, illustrated by Rod Clement
Gareth Stevens [1991]
ISBN: 0836803582

Mathematics Subject[s]: Measurement & Geometry, Number Sense

A truly curious boy and his dog Frank are the main characters of this story – filling their days by exploring questions such as, “If I ran the bathtub until the room filled up with water, how long would it take?” The boy even uses Frank as a standard for measuring things they both encounter. Frank and the boy make the “what if”s happen with panache. Laugh along with them as you explore measurement, the metric system, and other things mathematical.

Fractals, Googols and Other Mathematical Tales
by Theoni Papp
Wide World Pub Tetra [March 1993]
ISBN: 0933174896

Mathematics Subject: Mathematical Reasoning

. . . The decimal point was a very lonely chap. All his friends were being used in sentences while he languished looking for a purpose in life. Finally, the mathematicians came along and used him to represent fractions. If you are entranced by stories such as these, this is the book for you. Simple and clever tales introduce mathematical concepts and language, allowing you to see these sometimes-complex ideas in new and understandable ways. The fictional tales of the advent of mathematical terms and operations is accompanied by the true story of how these actually came into use.

Henry Hikes to Fitchburg
by D. B. Johnson, illustrated by D. B. Johnson
Houghton Mifflin Co. [February 28, 2000]
ISBN: 0395968674

Mathematics Subject[s]: Mathematical Reasoning

It’s an old story to be true: two friends start out on a journey. One decides to walk to their destination, while the other decides to ride the train. Who gets there first? More importantly, who gets there more satisfied? Readers will explore the mathematical principles behind time and money while considering the sometimes-unexpected benefits of taking a road less traveled.

by Chris Van Allsburg, illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg
Dale Seymour Publications [2000]
ISBN: 0769026265
Mathematics Subject[s]: Statistics, Data Analysis, & Probability
With a toss of the dice, two bored children find themselves on the adventure of a life time. In this Caldecott-winning book, Peter and Judy find themselves unleashing some very strange happenings as they play Jumanji: A Jungle Adventure, including an erupting volcano, a rhinoceros stampede, and an attack by voracious monkeys looking for their food that Judy has hidden in the family’s kitchen. And it all begins with the probability of a dice-toss, giving all readers a chance to ponder what might happen if . . .

Marvelous Math: A Book of Poems
Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Karen Barbour
Aladdin Library [August 2001]
ISBN: 0689844425

Mathematics Subject: Number Sense

What does mathematics mean to you? The sixteen poems in this collection provide different answers. Rebecca Kai Dotlich's title poem, for example, asks questions such as, "How fast does a New York taxi go?" concluding that “Mathematics knows it all!" This exploration of mathematics features multiplication, division, fractions, time, counting and measurement, all related to the way our everyday life is sculpted by this discipline. Other featured poets include Lee Bennet Hopkins, Janet Wong, and David McCord, whose poem, “Who Hasn’t Played Gazintas?” is a mathematical and literary delight.

Math Curse
by John Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith
Viking Children’s Books [October 1995]
ISBN: 0670861944

Mathematics Subject[s]: Mathematical Reasoning

“You know, when you think about it, almost everything is a math problem.” Thus begins a delightful exploration of number and number sense by a young girl as she goes about daily life at home (“Does tunafish + tunafish equal fournafish?”) and at school, where 24 cupcakes have to be divided among 25 students. Has her teacher really put a math curse on her? Only her dreams will tell. (P.S. The book costs $1,001 in binary numbers. Go figure!)

The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure
by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, illustrated by Rotraut Susanne Berner and Michael Henry Heim
Henry Holt & Company Reprint edition [May 2000]
ISBN: 0805062998

Mathematics Subject[s]: Algebra, Mathematical Analysis, Mathematical Reasoning, Number Sense

In his dreams, Robert meets the number devil, a magical and clever being who introduces and explains some of the most complex mathematical concepts in such an engaging way that they become crystal-clear to Robert (and the reader). Infinite numbers, Fibonnaci numbers, prime numbers, ands numbers that appear in triangles become more than the stuff of dreams in this international best seller. You may be afraid of the bogeyman but, after reading this book, you’ll love the Number Devil.

Number Stories of Long Ago
by David Eugene Smith
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics [1997] Stock # 577
ISBN: 0873534085

Mathematics Subject[s]: Mathematical Reasoning, Number Sense

The Story-Teller entertains a group of children (including one young lady known as The Tease) with eight stories that connect mathematics, history, and human nature. One chapter, for example, tells how Leonardo of Pisa, Cuthbert Tonstall, and Johann Widman all played roles in the development of multiplication. The last two chapters in the book contain math puzzles and riddles that deal with fractions, exponents, rules for divisibility, and number sense concepts, with explanations about ways to solve them. Originally published in 1919, the book was written by mathematician David Eugene Smith, a distinguished mathematics historian and educator. Its stories still ring true with readers today.

One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale
By Demi, illustrated by Demi
Scholastic Trade [April 1997]
ISBN: 059093998X

Mathematics Subject[s]: Number Sense, Probability & Statistics, Data Analysis

In this retelling of a classic folktale, a young girl outwits a greedy rajah. Her reward? Simply this: she asks for a grain of rice a day, doubled every day for thirty days. Her cleverness results in even greater rewards: her starving village gets more than a billion grains of rice and the rajah himself learns a lesson in fairness and humility—all because one person knew about numbers and the way they work together.

The Phantom Tollbooth
by Norton Juster, illustrated by Jules Feiffer
Random House [1993] [Original Copyright: 1961]
ISBN: 0394815009

Mathematics Subject: Number Sense

A very bored Milo finds that a tollbooth has mysteriously appeared in his room on day. He drives through it simply because he has nothing better to do, entering into a fantastic world replete with witches, princess, and a number pro called The Mathemagician, where word play is king. In such a bizarre framework, even the most complex mathematical thoughts become child’s play as readers learn how to make sense of decimals, fractions, and other mathematical concepts.

Pigs Will Be Pigs: Fun with Math and Money
by Amy Axelrod, illustrated by Sharon McGinley-Nally
Simon & Schuster [1994]
ISBN: 0689812191

Mathematics Subject[s]: Number Sense

The Pig family is out of groceries and pretty hungry. So they scour their home and all it’s furnishings, looking for enough money to dine out. But, when the get to the Enchanted Encillada, will they have enough to afford the tab? Readers follow along as the Pigs uncover money, add it up, and make their choices from the menu at their favorite Mexican restaurant. The answers are all in the illustrations, but the question is, which number on the page is the right one? Other books in this series, all devoted to mathematics, include Pigs on a Blanket, Pigs in the Pantry, Pigs Go to Market, and Pigs at Odds: Fun with Math and Games.

Sir Cumference and the First Round Table: A Math Adventure
by Cindy Neuschwander, illustrated by Wayne Geehan
Charlesbridge Publishing [January 2002]
ISBN: 1570911525

Mathematical Subject[s]: Measurement & Geometry

Is there trouble in Camelot? You bet there is. When King Arthur and his knights get together at their noble table, they have to shout at each other to be heard. It’s just too long. But, fear not. Sir Cumference is ready to find a solution. Along with Lady Di of Ameter and their son Radius, he explores different geometric solutions until the exactly correct answer is found. Other books in this whimsical series include Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone: A Math Adventure and Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi: A Math Adventure.

Spaghetti and Meatballs for All! A Mathematical Story
by Marilyn Burns, illustrated by Debbie Tilley
Scholastic [September 1997]
ISBN: 0590944592

Mathematical Subject[s]: Algebra, Measurement & Geometry, Number Sense

The Comfort family is having a dinner—with 32 guests! Just where will they sit? With Mr. Comfort in the kitchen, Mrs. Comfort carefully plans and determines that they’ll need eight square tables with four guests at each. But what happens when the guests arrive and want to put the tables together? Or what to do when only 31 chairs are delivered? By the time you finish reading, not only will you know the answers to those problems, but you’ll also be able to spell out the difference between perimeter and area as well.

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