Sunday, April 07, 2013

Do the Math

Math can be a fun challenge for some--and a great intimidation for others.  Seeing that April is Math Awareness Month, I thought it would be a good opportunity to plug some of our inventive and fun math-related books:

I'm constantly amazed at the creativity on display in contemporary children's nonfiction.  Count on Your Fingers African Style is a fantastic way to incorporate math skills and global awareness in an inviting narrative style.  I certainly didn't know that there are different ways to symbolize numerical value among several African cultures!  Due to the diverse number of cultures in Africa (more than a thousand languages are spoken in Africa), sellers and consumers at markets communicate using their hands.  However, one culture may indicate "8" with their fingers in a way that's different from another culture, so sellers must know the symbols used among their customers.  This is an entertaining and eye-opening look at market life in Africa, along with incorporating simple counting problems.

I love the DK (Dorling Kindersley) books.  There are a handful of publishers that I would just love to say, "Send me everything you have." DK is one of them.  While I find some books a bit overwhelming in the sheer amount of information contained on each page, I usually feel that they manage to do the difficult job of balancing text and images quite well.  Go Figure: A Totally Cool Book About Numbers is an awesome beast of a book.  The evolution of mathematics, numbers in nature, shapes, mazes, logic puzzles, infinity, chaos theory, and much more is packed into a volume bound to intrigue children AND adults alike.  Math problems are scattered throughout the book; answers are included at the back.

When Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith collaborate on a book, you're guaranteed to get something wacky and witty.  Math Curse delivers all that, plus some.  Math teacher Ms. Fibonacci tells her class that "you can think of almost everything as a math problem."  Right away, the young narrator begins to have all kinds of problems, which are presented as word problems.  Super fun and funny--and a great lead-in to Science Verse.

Demi is one of my favorite folklorist (she's also a fine biographer as well).  Set in India, One Grain of Rice is a charming tale about a greedy raja and the young girl who outsmarts him and feeds her village.  The explanation for the multiplying grains of rice is given at the back of the book.

For more math-related books for children, check out the J 510 section.

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