“The union of the mathematician with the poet, fervor with measure, passion with correctness, this surely is the ideal” – William James, a prominent psychologist and philosopher.
Mathematics is often understood as a challenging subject to learn. Traditional teaching methods and insipid learning models helped exacerbate such a perception. Today, more and more teachers begin to see how children books can actually help students overcome mathematics anxiety, helping them remain interested in learning mathematics.
Studies continue to suggest that children are likely to understand mathematics more when the subject is being presented in a way that is meaningful to them. David Whitin, in his book, titled “Math Is Language Too: Talking and Writing in the Mathematics Classroom,” asserts that;
“Through varied opportunities for investigation, these books support readers in developing healthy attitudes and dispositions about mathematical activity.”
Those who are interested to try, the following are guidelines for selecting such books. The book, in essence, must be able to:
- Connect to your students’ background knowledge.
- Bridge abstract knowledge to concrete knowledge.
- Apply new knowledge to real-world situations.
There are many picture books and storybooks out there to choose from, but not all of them are suitable to suit the purpose of enhancing a mathematics lesson. When deciding to get one, remember that story comes first, then mathematics; because the story is what will excite them most in the first place. Here are some of them:
1) Children books that teach counting and adding
- Quack and Count by Keith Baker
- Ways To Get To 11 by Eve Merriam
- Mission Addition by Loreen Leedy
- From One to One Hundred by Teri Sloat
- Every Buddy Counts by Stuart J. Murphy
- On Beyond A Million by David M. Schwartz
- The Twelve Days of Kindergarten by Deborah Lee Rose
- Two Ways To Count To Ten by Ruby Dee
2) Children books that teach counting backwards and subtraction
- Monster Math by Grace Maccarone
- Ten Timid Ghosts by Jennifer O’connell
- Turtle Splash! Countdown At The Pond by Cathryn Falwell
- Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed by Eileen Christelow
- The Action Of Subtraction by Brian P. Cleary
- Monster Musical Chairs by Stuart Murphy
- If You Were A Minus Sign by Speed Shaskan
- Subtraction Action by Loreen Leedy
3) Children books that teach measurement
- Mr. Cookie Baker by Monica Wellington
- Who Sank The Boat? by Pamela Allen
- Just A Little Bit by Ann Tompert
- Now I’m Big by Margaret Miller
- Millions To Measure by David M. Schwartz
- Measuring Penny by Loreen Leedy
4) Children books that teach about money
- The Penny Pot by Stuart Murphy
- Alexander Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst
- Benny’s Pennies by Pat Brisson
- A Dollar For Penny by Julie Class
- A Quarter For The Tooth Fairy by Caren Holtzman
- Berenstain Bears Trouble Money by Stan Berenstain & Jan Berenstain
- Curious George Saves His Pennies by Margret Rey
Rosamond Welchman-Tischler, in her book, “How to Use Children’s Literature to Teach Mathematics,” suggests ways to enhance students’ learning experiences by using literature to teach mathematics.
The following are her suggestions in key points;
- Provide a context or model for an activity with mathematical content.
- Introduce manipulatives that will be used in varied ways (not necessarily as in the story).
- Inspire a creative mathematics experience for children.
- Pose an interesting problem.
- Prepare for a mathematics concept or skill.
- Develop or explain a mathematics concept or skill.
- Review a mathematics concept or skill.
Most of the children’s books are very plot-driven; filled with such interesting stories that may sometimes require its readers to solve a mathematical problem or two (i.e. compare numerical amounts or maybe tell time). As parents, what we can do to help is we start reading more books ourselves; fill our home with more books and read to our child as often as possible.