My oldest son’s favorite subject is math. From a very early age it was clear that he was drawn to numbers and counting. I encouraged his interest with math themed books and math activities continue to be a major part of our lives. This list of math books for babies and toddlers is the first in a new series I am doing in collaboration with Anna at the Measured Mom. Every three weeks I will create a math book list and Anna will have a post from a teacher’s perspective on how to enhance math learning at home. After you check out these books, jump over and read about math activities for babies and toddlers.
Now I know you are thinking, “babies and toddlers do not need to learn math.” Ha ha, I totally agree with you. These books are not trying to teach your infants how to add and subtract. However, literacy and math learning are interconnected, and if you are looking for quality books for the under 3s, there is no reason not to include a few counting, shape and pattern books.
Finding math books for babies and toddlers is very different than books for ages 3 and up. The toddler set is focusing on pattern learning, relative sizes and pairing. Their attention span for lap-sitting and reading is also very short. Focus on books with engaging, happy and simple text and bold, pattern-oriented illustrations. Just remember, your baby and toddler does not need how to learn to add and subtract! (Note: titles and covers are affiliate links.)
Counting Books for Babies and Toddlers
Demonstrating that counting can be fun is great well to help kids develop a positive relationship to math! Use these books to do just that.
Counting Kisses: A Kiss & Read Book. What better way to encourage a love to counting than with love and kisses? Karen Katz has a number of counting books toddlers and babies will love. As you turn the pages with your little one, you will (of course!) want to give your child lots all the kisses (and more!) that the mom shares with our own baby in the book. Be sure to read the companion book, Daddy Hugs.
Ten, Nine, Eight may perhaps be my favorite baby book of all time. I can still recite it by heart and I loved cuddling with my kids at bedtime to read it. This gentle story counts down in a familiar scene of a girl getting ready for bedtime with her loving father. This is a book every child should have on his bookshelf. It’s not just a library book!
Toddler Two is a sweet board book (it’s also available in Spanish) in which a pair of twins count all the pairs they see. The simple repetitive pattern in the text “Two legs, one, two. Two arms, one, two” is perfect for little ones and reinforces the simple pattern learning they are already doing in life.
Doggies. Everyone loves a Boynton book! This silly book will get your toddlers barking, counting and giggling at the same time.
Pattern Books for Babies and Toddlers
Babies and toddlers begin to recognize patterns long before they recognize counting and numbers. Stimulate their brains with bold and bright books.
Black & White. These classic books are essential “reads”. Babies love looking at contrasts. Parents can name shapes and objects, encourage participation by asking little ones to point to the objects, or simply turn the pages and gaze while cuddling.
Spots and Dots continues along the same line as Hoban’s Black and White books but adds in color and repetitive patterns.
Higher! Higher! encourages toddlers to consider relative height in this exuberant book about a child who shouts to be pushed “Higher! Higher!” until she is so high that a wave to the local alien population is warranted. Parents might recognize the familiar feeling of their own exhaustion as the return to earth prompts, “Again!” Although you may not immediately think of this as a math book, recognizing relative size and distance is an important early math skill.
Bright Baby Touch and Feel. Parents know that kids want to touch everything! They learn through touch so why not make reading a multi-sensory experience with books that include textures as well as pictures and words. Two of these books specifically address “obvious” math books with shapes and numbers.
My Very First Book of Shapes is more appropriate for older toddlers than tiny babies. Each illustrated page is spilt. The top half shows a bold, black shape with it’s name. The bottom half displays a familiar object like a kite, a watermelon or lady bug. Kids can turn the top half separately to match it with the object on the bottom half of the page.
Big Little<, as the title suggests, compares the size of different objects. Patricelli's colorful illustrations are always crowd pleasing. A final note: I do not recommend kindle books for babies and toddlers. Kids this young need to be able to hold books, turn pages (that’s actually math learning!), feel the weight of the book, and yes, put the books in their mouths.
Now head over to The Measured Mom to read about 10 ways to make math fun for babies and toddlers!