11 Award Winning Math Books to Share With Your Child

Are you looking for some fantastic books to help boost your child’s love of math?

collageWhen done poorly, a book about math can be dull and confusing. However, when done well, and accompanied by unique perspectives and colorful illustrations, math books can be fun!

The following list of number-crunching books will prove this to even the most dubious of readers. All titles are winners of the 2016 Mathical prize, which honors books that cultivate a love of mathematics in young readers.

Whether you want to introduce a young child to their very first math concepts or supplement an older child’s math curriculum, this list is for you:

1. Just the Right Size: Why Big Animals are Big and Little Animals are Little, by Nicola Davies

Using animals to explain math concepts is brilliant, because, which kid doesn’t like animals? In “Just the Right Size”, the author seeks to amuse children with animal trivia while using these familiar creatures to explain geometry concepts such as size and surface area.

Children are drawn to the cartoon characters, and parents enjoy learning new math and science trivia at the same time. The fun presentation makes it an ideal way to introduce concepts to inquisitive learners and reluctant math students alike.

2. The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel, by Deborah Hopkinson

Primarily a historical medical novel, The Great Trouble sneakily introduces math to young readers in the form of money.

While following the heroic adventures of the main character, who is struggling to support himself, readers are plunged into the world of economics.

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Suitable for both fun and classroom, readers describe ”The Great Trouble” as:

” …historical non-fiction for kids that is also interesting for adults…”
“…perfect for young scientists.”
“…educational, yet by no means boring.”
“…a fascinating look at money, poverty, survival and illness in Victorian London”

3. An Animal Alphabet, by Elisha Cooper

Both a counting book and an alphabet book. The pages are filled with illustrations depicting over one hundred animal species (along with animal facts) and pages of counting opportunities (up to the number eight, the author’s preferred number.)

Definitely not a traditional counting or letter book, but one any preschooler will treasure, ”An Animal Alphabet” is :

“Illustrated with joy…an alphabet book to pore over, worth adding to any collection.” — School Library Journal, starred review

4. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

A classic book that introduces abstract mathematical concepts, and personifies both math and words as literal characters. The Phantom Tollbooth has delighted readers for over three decades, and continues to pique mathematical interest in readers of all ages.

Many parents today describe “The Phantom Tollbooth” as their first favorite book, and enjoy it even more as adults. What better book to share with a child?

5. Count With Maisy, Cheep, Cheep, Cheep by Lucy Cousins

This preschool book provides a fun reason for counting–they must help Maisy the Dog find all of the baby chickens before bedtime!

As a lift-a-flap book, it’s already interactive, and parents can make it more so by using the bright illustrations to teach numbers, colors, and farm animals.

“…Count With Maisy is an adorable book that my toddler loves.”
“Counting baby chickens with Maisy is my daughter’s favorite part of bedtime.”

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6. Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang

Here is a book that offers a modern take on the importance of math. Not only is it a mystery novel filled with old-school learning concepts, such as logic puzzles, it focuses on one of the most progressive uses of math in our world today–computer coding.

A perfect gift for a child who is into computers or robotics, or who just needs some proof that STEM academics can be fun.

Parents and teachers both agree that this book is engaging, encouraging and enjoyable (for all ages!)

“… it encourages my daughter to read AND think about math, its a win-win in my book!..”

“…Such a fun and geeky book. It appeals to the kid in all of us, and my math-whiz kid loved the puzzles.”

7. Max’s Math by Kate Banks

Follow Max and his brothers as they set off on an adventure to find Shapesville. Their path is littered with numbers and shapes, and along the way they learn about counting, problem-solving, and basic geometry concepts.

The book is wonderful for the story itself, and presents numerous opportunities for parents to introduce new math games (such as finding hidden numbers).

8. The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman

A biography of the mathematician Paul Erdos, who was astonishingly brilliant with numbers, yet could not perform simple tasks like making his own bed. This story is for any child (or parent) who sees the world differently and strives to create their own learning environment.

The bright illustrations and joyful character can teach young readers that math is not something to be feared, since we see Paul so ecstatically happy about his numerical adventures.

One reader says:
“…thanks to this book, my child now dreams of becoming a mathematician.”

9. Math Curse by Jon Scieszka

“You know, you can think of everything as a math problem..”

That is the prompt that sets the book in action, as a student realizes she is “cursed” by being surrounded by math problems.

A clever and excellent way to drive home the importance of why math skills are important and how we use them everyday to solve a variety of issues. (And also some silly, yet charming, mathematical philosophizing as the narrator laments why a person who has 10 cookies must have 3 taken away as her whole life becomes a series of word problems.)

With the addition of some “silly math” the author also teaches readers that there are some problems that one cannot solve with math.

10. Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

Again, a book that takes math beyond the school room and into real life. Cunningly hidden inside the story of a city girl who moves to the farm and rather reluctantly becomes a chicken farmer, are everyday math problems she must solve. Such as how to calculate the amount of water needed for a certain number of chickens per day, and how to measure for roosting poles.

For children who don’t dream of being physicists or engineers, its helpful to show how math is still useful in their own real world lives. Little math problems are just as important to your success, no matter which undertaking you choose.

Parents have described this book as funny, diverse, thought-provoking, powerful, and worth reading over-and-over.

11. Leonardo da Vinci Gets a Do-Over by Mark P. Friedlander

This is the book to perk up reluctant teen math students.

This adventure story links multiple academic subjects together (much as the Master himself did). Follow the three young characters as they help a resurrected da Vinci on his quest to better humanity.

“..a great book for merging math and science together. We read it as part of our homeschool curriculum, and my daughter loved it.”

Along the way the 3 young characters play the role of both students and teachers to the grand master; an empowering way to show children that what they learn today, they can use for teaching others tomorrow.

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Caroline Mukisa
About The Author: Caroline Mukisa is the founder of Maths Insider. A Cambridge University educated math teacher, she's been involved in math education for over 20 years as a teacher, tutor, Kumon instructor, Thinkster Math instructor and math ed blogger. She is the author of the insanely helpful ebook "The Ultimate Kumon Review" and insanely useful website "31 Days to Faster Times Tables" You can follow her math tips on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @mathsinsider

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