Math Book Magic Holiday List

It’s been 2 1/2 years of searching book lists and library bookshelves for magical books to share with you on our blog. Here is our entire list. Any of them would make great gifts for the holidays, but below is a subset to make shopping a bit easier. Age ranges are not set in stone of course.

Math Book Magic for Children Ages 3-5

OneloneyOne Lonely Fish from creators Alan Mansfield and Thomas Flintham was our ignagural magical math book. Two years later this board book has held up swimmingly to multiple reads. Landon (now 3) is even “reading” it himself now.  This book is great for developing one–to-one correspondence. The book’s nested pages and the growing sequence of fish for the BIG lonely fish to chomp down appeal to my kids and I suspect others. (Counting book, Amazon link: One Lonely Fish.)

Baby goes to marke

Baby Goes to Market by Nigerian-born Atinuke and illustrated Angela Brooksbank follows Baby and Mama through a Nigerian Market. Baby 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. (Counting book, Amazon link: Baby Goes to Market.)



Stack the Cats is written and illustrated by Susie Ghahremani. Cats of all shapes and sizes play, climb and of course stack, across the pages of this counting book. Ghahremini’s crisply illustrated cats pop against mint-green and orange backgrounds. The question at the end of the book,  How will you stack the cats?, encourages children to pull out their stuffed animals (or whatever) and stack some “cats.”  We purchased a set of these cats. WARNING: These cats are not for young children. A few of our cat legs broke with some rough play and could be a choking hazard. Here is another option, Pete the Cat blocks. Pete the Cat is the main character in a picture book series my youngest loves. (Counting and Addition, Amazon link: Stack the Cats.)

51nD9s61BPL._SX364_BO1,204,203,200_ Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! The Cookie Fiasco by Dan Santat is written in a similar style to Mo Willems’s Elephant & Piggie series. Hippo, Croc, and the Squirrels are faced with a problem: How to share three cookies equally among four sweet-toothed creatures. Will Hippo break the cookies to crumbs before they solve the problem?  This book is a blast to read aloud with its humorous and dramatic speech-bubble dialogue. Santat’s comic-style illustrations expertly capture the fear and frustration that “SOMEONE WILL NOT GET A COOKIE!” (Fractions and Division, Amazon link here: The Cookie Fiasco (Elephant & Piggie Like Reading!)

Math Book Magic for Children Ages 6-8

How Many Bundle2

How many?: A Counting Book was created by Christopher Danielson. The book can be purchased either as the Student Guide or a Teacher’s Guide Bundle. I highly recommend purchasing the bundle. There are so many wonderful things one can learn from this Teacher Guide. 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. The magic of this book truly lies in sharing it with your own children/students. (Fractions and Division, Author’s website link) 


How Many Jelly Beans? A Giant Book of Giant Numbers was written by Andrea Menotti and illustrated by Yancey Labat. Aiden and Emma can’t decide how many jelly beans are enough. Is 10 enough? How about 1000?  Each time a certain number of jelly beans is presented, there is an accompanying illustration to support counting practice. Fun fold-out pages show how big 1 million jelly beans really is. Also, Harry Potter Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans could be a fun thing to give along with this gift. Just make sure to read exactly what “every” flavor means in the description of the link. (Counting and Large Numbers, Amazon link here: How Many Jelly Beans?)


Bean Thirteen is another book that is a perfect pairing with Harry Potter Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans. Bean Thirteen was written and illustrated by Matthew McElligott. I first learned about this book while exploring McElligott’s website for a previous post, The Lion’s Share.  McElligott’s bright bug illustrations are the perfect compliment to this delightful bean-sharing story. The main characters are two bugs Ralph and Flora. Ralph warns Flora about picking unlucky bean thirteen. Flora fails to heed Ralph’s warning and now they are stuck with it. In an effort to make bean thirteen disappear, they invite their friends over to share beans. But no matter how they try, there is always at least one bean left over.  This book leaves room for wonder and invites children to participate in the sharing of the beans and mathematizing the story in a way that makes sense to them. (Division and Prime Numbers, Amazon link here: Bean Thirteen)


More-igami was written by Dori Kleber and illustrated by G. Brian Karas. 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. Luckily, Joey finds a way to fold to his heart’s content and becomes the origami master he set out to be. Karas’s sweet, warmly lit lustrations are the perfect backdrop for Kleber’s simple, beautiful story about the power of perseverance.  The end pages include a simple origami ladybug project, a perfect first step to becoming an origami master. This book and a stack of origami paper would make a great holiday gift. (Geometry, Amazon link here: More-igami)

Math Book Magic for Children ages  8 and up

51dBo8-d8rL._SX386_BO1,204,203,200_This is Not a Math Book: A Smart Art Activity Book was created by Ann Weltman. Ann Weltman is a math teacher and co-founder of Math Munch, an online resource that provides a digest of mathematics for children, parents and teachers. Full full of art-infused invitations to mathematical thinking, Weltman has masterfully curated a collection of activities that opens doors to profound and curious mathematical questions. Couple this book with a some colored pencils, a ruler and a compass and you’ve got a great gift for the artist in your life. (General, Amazon link here: This Is Not a Math Book)


One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale by Demi is based on on the Indian tale Sissa and the Troublesome Trifles. In the story, a young girl Rani, returns some spilled rice to the raja (another name for Indian king). The raja had been hoarding all the rice in his land which led to famine for the villagers.  Obligated to reward Rani for returning the rice, the raja tells Rani to name her price. When Rani asks for a single grain of rice, the raja convinces her to ask for more. In addition to the one grain, Rani asks that the raja double that amount for each of 30 days: 1 grain of rice on day one, 2 grains on day two, 4 on day three, 8 on day four and so on.  The raja agrees, certain Rani has once again asked for too little. Doubling is one of my favorite mathematical concepts to share with children. It is such a powerful, magical concept. (Exponential Patterns, Amazon Link here : One Grain Of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale)

the joy of mathematics cover image


The Joy of Mathematics: Discovering Mathematics All Around You was written by Theoni Pappas. The book contains problems, puzzles, historical facts, tidbits, and stories that aim to spark curiosity and invite the reader to experiment with a wide variety of ideas and topics. (General, Amazon Link here: The Joy of Mathematics: Discovering Mathematics All Around You)




OK I better stop now or I will just add ALL the books on the blog (Seriously). It was a joy to read through our old blog posts, the memories and the math shared. Hope you have a magical holiday season sharing and creating your own memories.

Happy Holidays and happy magical math book sharing!


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Thanks and see you soon!  Touch #mathbookmagic, pass it on.

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