A magical math book is a book that inspires wonder, excitement, and/or delight for both reader and listener.
Over the next year, in addition to sharing new magical math books, I'd also like to revisit some of our older posts in an effort to clarify this definition by compiling and sharing a list of magical math book ingredients. There were books we read where the authors were clearly interested in what we, the readers, thought. In fact they prompted us to join in. These books had the first magical ingredient: invitation. These books extended authentic invitations for us to join the conversation, to share, create, and explore mathematical ideas, to co-construct a mathematical story.
Socks are like Pants, Cats are like Dogs was written by Gordon Hamilton and Malke Rosenfeld and published in 2016 by Delta Stream Media, an imprint of Natural Math. What I find refreshing about this book is the amount of noticing it affords. Children are invited to notice connections, similarity and differences throughout all the activities.
I never would have guessed 15 years ago that I would STILL be learning about counting. But listening to children engage with simple prompts and carefully crafted images like in How Many? shows me there are deeper truths and things to be understood about counting and all K-12 mathematics learning. Thank you Christopher Danielson once again for providing a resource to wander and wonder with.
The magic here is that the positive feeling the book gives the students carries over into our inquiries about how to make up the different numbers in other ways, even when we move away from the animals to representing them, with Cuisenaire rods or written equations. Seeing different ways of representing numbers is an important part of our learning, but the book allowed us to visit this again without it seeming like ‘more of the same’: we were not dealing with raw numbers, but with feet on sand.
Amazing Visual Math is a pop-up book that encourages children to interact with mathematical concepts through folding, unfolding, flipping, and tab-pulling. The book is a mathematical reference book that explores different concepts from the first years of school (K-2). The sixteen colorful pages are full of different mathematical representations children can manipulate. There are mathematical facts and questions on each spread.
A big thank you and a dozen virtual roses to our first guest math book magic seeker. Jenny Jankowski is a middle school mathematics teacher from the Chicagoland area. I met Jenny a few years back while working on revisions to the elementary math curriculum Everyday Mathematics. It was a pleasure to be part of her team. Her students are lucky to have her! Now that she's back in the classroom, I was excited for her to share her experiences using picture books with older students. If You Hopped Like a Frog is written by David M. Schwartz, illustrated by James Warhola, and printed by Scholastic Press. David M. Schwartz is the author of many popular math and science books for children.
Joey loves things that fold: maps, beds, accordions. His interest in foldables increases after watching his classmate's mother turn an ordinary piece of paper into a beautiful origami crane. Joey sets out to learn origami. However, not everyone appreciates the amount of practice it takes to become an origami master. Especially since Joey has taken to folding his homework, his mother's money, and his sister's sheet music. Luckily, Joey finds a way to fold to his heart's content and becomes the origami master he set out to be.
Sheep Won't Sleep: Counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s was published in 2017 by Holiday House. Written by Judy Cox and illustrated by Nina Cuneo, this book's whimsical characters and gentle prose are perfect for inspiring colorful dreams and connection through counting before bedtime.
Baby Goes to Market was written by Nigerian-born Atinuke. Atinuke started her career doing traditional oral storytelling. Atinuke's story follows Baby and Mama through a Nigerian Market. Baby's is so adorable that the banana seller gives Baby six bananas. Baby eats one and secretly puts five bananas in Mama's basket. Baby continues to collect items at the market, eating one of each, and placing the rest in Mama's basket. The story ends with a secret between Baby and reader that is sure to bring a smile.