Home » Using Books to Help Teach Math

Often we think of the world of language and the world of mathematics as so far removed from each other as to never cross paths. After all, what bearing does math have on reading, or reading on math? In reality, educators often turn to books to aid in their teaching of math concepts—especially early-learning and elementary-age students.

There are some books which present beginning counting, addition and subtraction concepts in simple yet effective ways. For example, The Shopping Basket, by John Burmingham, shows a shopping trip where the reader is asked to put six eggs, five bananas, etcetera, into their basket. Another book which aids with counting is One Apple on Top, by Theo LeSieg. In this simple story, three animals try to pile ten apples on top of their heads; although a simple story, it contains subtle humor which can help keep young students engaged while they help the animals count how many apples they’ve successfully balanced.

Safari Park, by Stuart Murphy, is one book which engages students in the concepts of addition, as five cousins decide how to spend their tickets at the Safari Amusement Park. Another book which offers opportunities for addition is 365 Penguins, by Jean-Luc Fromental and Joelle Jolivet. In this story, a box with a penguin arrives on a daily basis to a puzzled family. With the addition of so many penguins into their home, both humorous and bothersome situations begin to add up. Books such as One Frog Sang, by Shirley Parenteau, introduces subtraction by counting up to ten, and then back down to one.

Many more books touch on a variety of mathematical concepts, from time, measurement and size to even and odd numbers, division and multiplication. It’s clear that although language arts and mathematics may speak different languages, when brought together, the teaching of both is strengthened.

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