Two Birds, One Stone: Math in Reading

Jul 30, 2020 | Schertz

Even though math is at play in every sphere of our lives, it can be easy for kids to get annoyed with learning, especially during summertime. One way to bring the subject to life, according to several math research organizations, is through literature.   


Mathematics can be very creative, playful, and joyful and books can connect with that sense of wonder, imagination, and creativity. The following list includes books that succeed in communicating mathematical ideas and problems, and also succeed as great books: 


Sheep Won’t Sleep: Counting by 2’s, 5’s and 10’s by Judy Cox (Grades K-2)

In this book Clarissa tries all the usual tricks for falling asleep, including counting sheep. When that fails, the sheep suggest counting alpacas - this time in pairs. When that also fails, tha alpacas recommend counting llamas - by fives. The comical storyline and bright illustrations will engage early elementary schoolers as they practice advanced counting skills. 


Secret Coders #1: Get with the Program by Gene Yang (Grades 3-5)

The main protagonist, Hopper, discovers there’s something strange about her new school. Readers are introduced to the principles of programming through logic puzzles, a robotic turtle, and creepy birds in this adventure-filled graphic novel. 


Giant Pumpkin Suite by Melaine Hill (Grades 6-8)

Yes, we want kids to see mathematics but we also want kids to see mathematicians, because at the end of the day, math is a human activity. In Giant Pumpkin Suite, cello and math enthusiast Rose deals with growing pains as she joins her twin brother in a project to grow a record-breaking pumpkin for the state fair. This book portrays characters who love and practice math. 


Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Shetterly (Grades 9-12)

This title's accompanying movie adaptation was featured on our last blog posts for must see math themed movies! The original book tells the inspiring story of African-American women “computers” whose brains and grit helped launch NASA astronauts into orbit. This book highlights the interconnections between math, careers, and social history. 

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