Preschoolers (3 to 5 year olds) are rapidly expanding on their ability to understand mathematical concepts like simple counting, relative shape and size, measurements and patterning. These are the best preschool math picture books, perfect to enhance and supplement hands-on math learning in the pre-k classroom or at home!
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Preschoolers are ready to practice counting objects, both forwards and backwards. They can start to apply counting to everyday life and these counting books also encourage them to see math in the world around them.
Twenty Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street by Mark Lee, illustrated by Kurt Cyrus. What kid doesn't love a good traffic jam? When an ice cream truck breaks down, the pile-up begins and the counting is fun! A young boy on a bicycle offers various solutions to solve the problem and when the jam clears, he gets his sweet reward.
Feast for 10 by Cathryn Falwell. A family shops for, prepares and sits down together for a meal. I particularly love books that show math in everyday situations such as shopping and cooking. It might even get your little one interested in counting next time you put her in the shopping cart at the grocery store! Plus, I'm all for books that show families having fun together.
Let's Count Goats! by Mem Fox, illustrated by Jan Thomas is a charming, rhyming book about counting goats doing silly things. I've read it many times during story time with the preschool crowd and it never fails to get the kids laughing.
The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins. Be sure to have a plate of cookies nearby when you read this book! Hutchins uses a group of diverse children sitting down for a snack as the setting for a story about sharing and a very simple, early lesson in division. The doorbell starts ringing and as more children start arriving the plate of cookies is divided among more and more kids.
Kids ages 3-5 are learning skills that they will apply to advanced mathematics later on in life. They learn about math concepts best through informal play with patterns and shapes. These shape-themed preschool math books will feed into that natural curiosity.
MORE: A great preschool math craft is to make a shape book like this one!
This Is a Book of Shapes by Kenneth Kraegel. It starts off like a simple shape identification book, but soon there is a twist that will make your kids laugh. Emus, porpoises and rhinoceros add in some much needed absurdity and deadpan humor to any preschool math book collection!
Round is a Tortilla by Roseanne Greenfield Thong, illustrated by John Parra. This wonderful concept book with Spanish words sprinkled throughout is perfect for preschoolers. Colorful, folksy illustrations and rhyming text make it great for story time.
Color Zoo. Lois Ehlert’s signature bold, graphic style is on display with this clever die-cut shape book. As each page is turned a new layer reveals a different animal. On the reverse of each page, the shape is labelled so young kids can discuss which shapes are used to make each creature.
Changes, Changes by Pat Hutchins. In this winsome story, two toy dolls build a house out of blocks. When things start to go awry, they cleverly rebuild to keep up with the changing situation. Unit Blocks are probably the best toy for promoting early math learning in preschool aged kids (and beyond).
Cubes, Cones, Cylinders, & Spheres. Tana Hoban has a collection of books that are all worth checking out of the library. Sit down with your child and identify the 3 dimensional objects in Hoban's photographs. We are used to pointing out squares, triangles and circles, but teaching kids about their 3-D counterparts should not be left out of the equation.
Perfect Square by Michael Hall is a popular book in which a brightly colored square transforms when it is cut and rearranged. You will be unable to resist pairing this book with an art project to watch your preschooler explore the ability to transform shapes with a little cutting and tearing.
After reading these books to preschoolers, they will enjoy finding patterns in all sorts of unexpected places!
Max Found Two Sticks by Brian Pinkney. Guess where the most engaging patterns are located? Music! I love this book about a boy who starts to beat out musical patterns with two sticks he finds during a breezy day. He taps out the sounds he hears around him in rhythmic patterns. Read it aloud to kids and encourage them to tap out or sing their own musical patterns.
The Line Up Book by Marisabina Russo. Do you kids love to line things up? My boys were forever creating criss-crossing lines of cars and trucks. Next time you step over a long, winding line of toys pat yourself on the back, because your child is learning all about patterning and spatial relationships, important skills for math learning.
A Beautiful House for Birds by Grace Lin. Use the Storytelling Math book series to reinforce a plethera of different math concepts. This series has 20 (as of this writing) books to teach preschools about shapes, measuring, size, counting, spatial relationships, and much more. Lin's book teaches preschoolers about patterns by telling a story about a child decorating a birdhouse.
Pitter Pattern by Joyce Hesselberth. Math is all around us! This lovely little book helps preschoolers see patterns in everyday life. The sound of the rain, the design of a soccer ball, the rhythm of music, and the steps in a dance are some of the many patterns kids will discover in the pages of this charming book.
Rooster's Off to See the World by Eric Carle. This preschool book combines patterning with counting. As they follow rooster in his journey, kids first count groups of animals as they gather to join rooster. Then as each of the groups get tired, they count backwards, setting the stage for future addition and subtraction learning.
Preschoolers can understand relative size and enjoy learning words to describe how big, small, long or short things are.
Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni. Lionni's classic picture bookdoes more than show how an inchworm outwits hungry birds, it introduces kids to the concept of measurement in a fun way.
Leaves to My Knees! by Ellen Mayer, illustration Nicole Tadgell. Camille's interactions with nature while she spends time outdoors raking up the leaves gives her the opportunity to make observations about relative size and measurement.
You Rule! by Rilla Alexander. Okay, this isn't exactly a numbers measurement book, but it is so wonderful, I couldn't resist including it. The colorful, bold, graphic illustrations on each page accompany text which asks unorthodox measuring questions like "How much do you know?" "How kind are you?" “How strong are you?” Each question offers a selection of answers and some do include measurement words like "gigantic" or "infinity." Use the book as a supplement to studying math measurements and boost your child's exposure to the vocabulary of social-emotional learning.