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How to Choose Children’s Literature for Teaching Math Concepts

January 26, 2018

Making good choices about children’s literature is key to the value of incorporating stories into mathematics learning. An appropriate story can be used to support the introduction or further development of a concept, to outline a problem to be solved, and/or to consolidate learning. This is because a problem-solving context is much more convincing when the development of mathematical topics occurs naturally as part of the story instead of in a context in which math is overlaid in a story where it does not normally arise or is just not appropriate.

But what should you think about when selecting books to share with your child? Below I have outlined some important features to look for and questions to consider as you evealute options that you hope will be most effective for teaching math concepts…


 Features of an effective mathematical book:

  • Interesting format
  • Appropriate type size
  • Text and illustrations that communicate excitement in exploring math ideas
  • Accuracy/ mathematically correct
  • Material simplified appropriately and presented clearly to intended audience
  • Carefully organized with concepts presented from simple to complex, and specifics to generalizations in a logical sequence


Questions to consider when identifying a book to use with your child:

  • How does the story support the development of mathematical ideas?
  • What is the purpose of the mathematical content within the story?
  • Is it of high quality from a literary perspective?
  • Does it present content that is mathematically sound and grade-level appropriate?
  • Is it effective for helping children learn to think and reason mathematically?



You will find on this site a multitude of books for which I have evaluated and weighed these same features and questions, deciding that they are some of the best and most effective ones out there for teaching math. You can search for them not only by topic, but also by appropriate grade level. I have loved using literature in my own math classes, and hope that you find the books I have listed fun, interesting, and highly effective in supporting your child in their mathematics learning.

Are there other factors you have considered in choosing books to share with your child?

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