Four Read-Aloud Picture Books for Teaching Math

As teachers, we are constantly searching for ways to teach new skills or concepts. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that there’s nothing that a good, quality book can’t do. Need a lesson on sharing? Find a good book. Need to teach character, setting, and theme?  Find a good book. What about social studies concepts? Oh yeah, there are books for that, too! Read-alouds are so impactful. If you’ve never shed a few tears with your students when reading a really impactful book, are you even a teacher (ok, ok, if you’ve ALMOST cried, that counts, too)? We read aloud books for all kinds of concepts or skills in reading, writing, social studies, etc. but what about math? In this post, I share four read-aloud picture books for teaching math.

Math definitely comes with some hard concepts that can be tricky to teach.  If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a million times from students: “I hate math,” “I’m not good at math,” “math is hard.” But to them, math is really just scary. Once we take the fear factor out of learning math, they succeed! So, how do we help students overcome that fear? Hmmm, I’ve got it! A math read-aloud! Math read-alouds are great to foster a love of math right from the beginning (and what about those cross-curricular connections)! When students can relate to kids in stories, they start to see themselves as mathematicians, and that’s when the real magic begins.

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Below are a few suggested read-aloud math picture books to build strong mathematicians from early on in the school year:

1: I’m Trying to Love Math by Bethany Barton

I’m Trying to Love Math is a fun book, driven by humor, about a purple alien trying to convince a child to love math by showing him that math is all around him. It helps eliminate the “scary” factor by showing kids that math is in fun everyday things that they love, like pizza, cookies, and pies!

I'm trying to love math picture book read aloud cover

2: Girl With a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague by Julia Finley Mosca

Girl with a Mind for Math is an inspirational story about a young African American girl who longs to be an engineer but faces several challenges along the way in a segregated, male-dominant field. Wonderful book to discuss persistence and perseverance!

The girl with a mind for math cover

3: The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman

You can’t read about girls without reading about boys, too, right? This is a cute book about a young boy that thought about numbers all day every day. He could calculate how many seconds you’ve been alive in his head but couldn’t do basic things like tie his shoes or butter his bread.

The boy who loved math picture book cover

4: Counting on Katherine by Helaine Becker

In this book, the main character, Katherine, loves to count. She counts everything all the time. She counts the steps she takes, stairs she climbs, and even the dishes she washes. Her passion for counting and numbers grows throughout her childhood and leads her to a job at NASA one day! Not only did she work for NASA but she saved Apollo 13 due to her mathematical abilities!

counting on Katherine book cover

*Tip: Books 2-4 are biographies. You could assign different groups/students one of the mathematicians for further research. Students could even present their research!

Bonus Math Picture Book Read-Aloud Suggestions:

The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Gary Rubenstein

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

These books are not math specific but they are great books for teaching how to handle mistakes/growth mindset, which carries into math.

Ok, now the time has come to gather those students on a classroom carpet, mold some mathematicians, and maybe, just maybe, even shed a few tears.  

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