31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Ten – 2017 Math Picture Books
It’s almost unfair that I’m not including math for older readers on today’s list, but for that I think you’ll be best suited turning to the awesome Mathical Awards, given out each year. The Mathical Book Prize (given by a committee of math teachers, working mathematicians, and the occasional librarian like me) celebrates math in books for children of all ages. Like what you see on today’s list? You can get a lot more suggestions from people who actually know their stuff at the Mathical site.
And so, with the given understanding that I’m no math whiz myself, but have an appreciation of how folks best integrate math and storytelling . . .
2017 Math Picture Books
Counting Colorful Shapes: Art Deco Style by Isabel Hill
Admittedly this could just as easily go in the “Shapes” category as the “Counting” one, but for the sake of argument we’ll leave it here. Attractive architectural design isn’t usually something kids care about. Shapes in everyday life? A different story. Throw in some counting as well and you’ve got yourself a math book, you do.
Counting With Tiny Cat by Viviane Schwarz
I’m such a sucker for a Viviane Schwarz book. There’s something about her cuddly not cutesy style that really appeals to me. Plus, who can resist a tiny cat? You? You? You? Thought not.
Dance Party Countdown by Eric Litwin, ill. Tom Lichtenheld
Though I doubt he needs the publicity, Mr. Litwin brings us a counting book that’s also tailor made for storytimes. If you happen to be doing a math-centric storytime (a more common occurrence in this STEM-filled world in which we live) this will probably become your best friend.
A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars by Seth Fishman, ill. Isabel Greenberg
I like books that shoot for the moon (so to speak). And books that try to wrap children’s brains around large numbers definitely fall into that category. This reminds me a bit of How Many Jelly Beans? but has that extra added little level of science, to make it applicable to either math or astronomy lessons.
Grandma’s Tiny House: A Counting Story by JaNay Brown-Wood, ill. Priscilla Burris
This already showed up once as one of my favorite rhyming books on the year. It’s also one of my favorite counting stories, too. Particularly when you begin to wrap your mind around the sheer number of relatives coming by. This of it as a kind of 21st century version of the old nursery rhyme “As I Was Going to St. Ives”.
The Pickwicks’ Picnic: A Counting Adventure by Carol Brendler, ill. Renee Kurilla
Dogs. In cars. Stuck in traffic. With counting. If I have to sell it to you on more than that then you have no soul.
Sheep Won’t Sleep: Counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s by Judy Cox, ill. Nina Cuneo
Oo! Ambitious! Books that try to count by 2’s or 5’s or 10’s are impressive. Books that try to count by all of those numbers even more so. I’ve seen many a counting-sleep-to-sleep storyline in my day, but never something quite as keen to pack in the creative counting as this.
Stack the Cats by Susie Ghahremani
Well. I hope I don’t have to tell you how much I still love and adore this book above and beyond its fellows. It’s something to do with the writing, and something to do with the math, and something to do with the art (which is magnificent, you must admit). I cannot get enough of this book. The fact that they just released it as a board book as well is gravy.
We Need More Nuts! by Jonathan Fenske
It took me an awfully long time to discover Fenske, in spite of the fact that he’s a Geisel Honor winner. This book takes an extreme look at counting and the force-feeding of squirrels. My sole regret is that these two guys aren’t chipmunks packing their cheeks. Has anyone ever done a picture book where a chipmunk goes around stuffing things into its face for safe keeping? Someone get on that.
Weights and Measures
Ants Rule: The Long and Short of It by Bob Barner
My kids once got a measuring game for Christmas that turned out to be one of the most successful of the year. Turns out, kids really like measure stuff sometimes! This book breaks down the process into simple explanations for very young math enthusiasts. Plus there are bugs. A nice plus.
Cao Chong Weighs an Elephant by Songju Ma Daemicke, ill. Christina Wald
I love it when I can include a book that undoubtedly hasn’t popped up on your radar. I would highly doubt that too many of you have heard of this book, and more’s the pity. Happily, Kirkus did review it and said it was, “Nicely produced and balanced in its instructive approach” and contained “well-defined activities for understanding buoyancy and scale measurement”. If you need a fable to explain how to demonstrate buoyancy and, better still, calculate it, look ye no further.
Money and Economics
Earn It! A Moneybunny Book by Cinders McLeod
I like any book that sets up a systematic system of keeping track of earnings. It’s a fun financial literacy book. Kirkus got very depressed about it, lamenting that it didn’t talk about the joy of working for work’s sake. I’m okay with not including that particular detail in the narrative, honestly. It’s not as if we can all choose jobs that fulfill us all the time our entire lives.
Money Math: Addition and Subtraction by David A.Adler, ill. Edward Miller
I mean, it’s David A. Adler. The king of the math-related nonfiction these days. This particular book is fun and spells out math as it relates to our physical money is a really practical way. We desperately need more of these books in our libraries these days, so I’m happy to have it here.
Real World Applications
I Know Numbers! by Taro Gomi
Another Taro Gomi! And a funny one at that. When I say that the book talks about “real world applications” I mean that it isn’t just discussing numbers in a math concept but in our daily use as well. Kids see numbers everywhere every single day. This is a book that acknowledges their ubiquity with more than a dollop of humor.
Love Triangle by Marcie Colleen, ill. Bob Shea
Cheeky. Colleen isn’t afraid to fill this book with subtle math and geometry jokes, which I really like. But above and beyond that, I’ve actually never seen a picture book the old two-friends-are-joined-by-a-third-friend where both of the original friends prefer the newcomer. The name is no misnomer.
Round by Joyce Sidman, ill. Taeeun Yoo
Full credit to Minh Le and his fantastic Best Picture Books of 2017 piece on The Huffington Post for reminding me about this Sidman/Yoo collaboration. He put it under the “Best Concept Book” designation, while I’m concentrating a bit more on the inherent celebration of geometry. However you slice it, it’s a strong contender and a cool book. One that you should know.
Interested in the other lists of the month? Here’s the schedule so that you can keep checking back:
December 1 – Board Books
December 2 – Board Book Reprints & Adaptations
December 3 – Wordless Picture Books
December 4 – Picture Book Readalouds
December 5 – Rhyming Picture Books
December 6 – Alphabet Books
December 7 – Funny Picture Books
December 8 – CaldeNotts
December 9 – Picture Book Reprints
December 10 – Math Picture Books
December 11 – Bilingual Books
December 12 – Translated Picture Books
December 13 – Books with a Message
December 14 – Fabulous Photography
December 15 – Fairy Tales / Folktales
December 16 – Oddest Books of the Year
December 17 – Poetry Books
December 18 – Easy Books
December 19 – Early Chapter Books
December 20 – Comics for Kids
December 21 – Older Funny Books
December 22 – Fictionalized Nonfiction
December 23 – American History
December 24 – Science & Nature Books
December 25 – Transcendent Holiday Picture Books
December 26 – Unique Biographies
December 27 – Nonfiction Picture Books
December 28 – Nonfiction Chapter Books
December 29 – Fiction Reprints
December 30 – Middle Grade Novels
December 31 – Picture Books
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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