In this series of math book lists, we move on now to math picture books for kindergarteners through second grade. In my list of math books for preschoolers I mentioned that there is no shortage of math picture books. The trick, for me at least, is to find books to teach math concepts that are not boring.
I confess that I am partial to math books that incorporate concepts into engaging stories, or books that challenge kids to see math in the natural world around them rather than “math teaching books.” That’s my preference, although both have their place. I’m hoping that whether you are a parent or a teacher, the math picture books on this list will help you, whether you have a specific teaching goal in mind, or simply want to expose your kids to the wonder of math all around us.
When you’ve finished checking out these books, be sure to follow the links at the bottom for more math picture book lists and age appropriate math activities from The Measured Mom that will help your kids develop a love of math from the get-go! (Note: book covers and titles are affiliate links.)
Counting and Calculation Math Picture Books
These books sneak in concepts that will help kids build a strong foundation for learning how to calculate. Simple addition, skip counting, a bit of multiplication, as well as counting and place value steal the show.
Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money. I know, it sounds crazy to set up a lemonade stand in the snow, but these young entrepreneurs will not be dissuaded. Your kids will be singing a catchy little tune, setting up their own stand and counting their change by the time you finish reading.
Zero the Hero is a joyful book. Zero proclaims himself a hero, but the other numbers just aren’t buying it so Zero goes on a mission to prove himself. This is a fun book to spend some time over, with lots of clever dialogue and asides in speech bubbles. Tom Lichtenfield’s illustrations are great fun.
The Chicken Problem. I don’t mean to sound like a snob (it just comes naturally, ha ha ha) but I didn’t know about the PBS show, Peg and Cat, which leads me to the chicken and egg problem… which can first the book or the show. The book… I think? Anyway… Peg and Cat like to solve problems and one day when the chicks get out of the coop, there are a lot of problems — math problems — to solve.
Two of Everything, a Chinese folk tale is a fun way to teach about doubling. A man finds a large pot in his garden. When he uses it to store his purse of gold coins, he discovers the pot’s magic properties. The couple use the pot to increase their wealth and double everything they own, including themselves
Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives is an interesting look at numbers in the animal world. I always think cross-disciplinary learning is one of the most effective means for kids to explore their passions. Numbers kids will enjoy reading about animals and nature kids will start to connect to the mathematical world.
How Many Jelly Beans? In my experience, kids are fascinated with really large numbers. It can be hard to grasp just how big a thousand is, let alone a million. A couple of kids try to one up each other on the number of jelly beans they will eat. A giant fold out page demonstrates exactly how many they would need to eat should they actually get 1 million jelly beans. (I’m getting a stomach ache just thinking about it.)
How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?. Despite the focus on numbers and classroom calculations, I really love this book about a class that compares how many seeds are in each child’s pumpkin. There’s enough skip counting, addition and estimations to keep even the most dedicated little mathematician happy.
This Plus That: Life’s Little Equations. I’m a big believer that learning should be fun and silly. This book is not going to teach your kids how to calculate 7 + 6, but it may just help them see that adding things up is bigger than counting. After reading this book, take a break from numbers and come up with your own “lifestyle calculations!”
Each Orange Had 8 Slices is one of those “obvious” math books. There is no doubt that this is a picture book that teaches a math concept! Somehow, however, I didn’t find it boring. Perhaps it was the bold illustrations, perhaps because my sons both loved it in their turn. Simple “word problems” encourage kids to figure out simple addition and multiplication calculations.
Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday. Are your kids as obsessed with money, how much things cost and how long they are going to have to save to get that coveted toy? Well, mine sure are. Money is a terrific everyday tool to teach math and this book will help you along. It’s also an all around fun story.
Geometry and Patterning Math Picture Books
Both my previous math book lists also included a number (pun!) of books about patterning. It’s such an important mathematical concept I wanted to find books that continue to help kids look at patterns in the world around them. Symmetry, measurement and early geometry are introduced at this age.
The Greedy Triangle. If you’re looking for math picture books, chances are, you’ve already come across this one. I’m not the biggest fan of this book’s illustrations, but I do like the way it demonstrates different geometric shapes, and there is a very useful end note.
Round Trip is a fascinating look at reflection and symmetry. The book is meant to be read forwards, then turned around and read upside down. My son studied this book for ages when he first picked it up, examining how the mirrored images created two stories.
Grandfather Tang’s Story. Tangrams are a wonderful hands on way for kids to explore geometry. In this story about two shape-shifting fox fairies, kids see tangrams in action and will be motivated to create their own pictures with the traditional puzzle shapes.
Fannie in the Kitchen: The Whole Story from Soup to Nuts of How Fannie Farmer Invented Recipes with Precise Measurements. We all know that cooking involves a lot of math, and this book is a nice way to introduce just why math and proportions are important to recipes. There aren’t a lot of historical fiction picture books that you can also use to teach math so grab this one!
Six-Dinner Sid is a well-read book in our house and perfect for preschoolers through first grade. Sid is a cat who has six owners, gets six dinners, has six names and has to go to the vet six times. Patterning in the text and simple counting are seamlessly woven in. Kids won’t even realize they are strengthening their math skills.
Follow the Line is a classic book in which a single line creates a multitude of scenes. While this may not seem like your typical math book, the illustrations reinforce spatial concepts and geometry. Plus, it’s just really cool.
Seeing Symmetry is a lovely look at the symmetry all around us, from animals to words to patterns on fabrics, and more. Kids are introduced to the concepts of horizontal, vertical and even rotational symmetry. End notes explain the concept further, as well as give activity suggestions.
This is the third installment in the series I am collaborating on with The Measured Mom. Hop on over to get some quality ideas to help kids continue to love math in K – 2 and avoid the “I’m no good at math!” complaint. If you are new to the series, there are links to previous posts below the photo.
MORE MATH FUN:
- Math books for babies and toddlers
- How to make math fun for babies and toddlers (The Measured Mom)
- Math books for preschoolers
- Fun math activities for preschoolers (The Measured Mom)
MORE SIMPLE MATH FUN: