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Resources: Books


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Reading Books With Math:

  • Anno’s Math Games: I have not yet reviewed this series. (Do you have any comments about it? Contact me!)
  • The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns (Scholastic, 1994): This is a charming short story for young children under the age of 9 or so. It is a good introduction to the basic polygon shapes. It describes a triangle that is unhappy with his shape, and so he tries out having the shape of various polygons. The story describes examples of how each shape is found in the world.
  • Hello Math Reader: I have not yet reviewed this series. (Do you have any comments about it? Contact me!)
  • The Man Who Counted: A Collection of Mathematical Adventures by Malba Tahan (W. W. Norton and Co., 1993): This is a translation of stories with a strong Islamic theme originally told in 1895. It describes the adventures of a man who was very good at counting and solving mathematical puzzles. The adventures are well told, and the math puzzles are explained at a level for a child in grade 4 or higher.
  • Math Mysteries by Jack Silbert (Scholastic, 1995): This contains 20 stories that are simple mysteries using some elementary math concept. Each story is followed up with a short sequence of about five similar math questions to solve. The skill range is for grades 2 to 5, and is designed for a teacher to use in a classroom, but it is easily used by a parent with a child. If your child enjoys the stories, it can offer nice motivation to practice the math concepts.
  • MathStart (book series) by Stuart Murphy: This is a popular series of 32-page children's picture books, aimed for children from ages 3 to 10. Each one has a simple story that teaches a basic math concept along with a social skill such as sharing. The books are organized in three levels, covering math topics from beginning counting and ordering, up through multiplicaiton, division, and building equations.
  • The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure by Hans Magnus Enzensberger (Henry Holt and Company, 1998): This is the story of a boy who has trouble sleeping and who does not like math. A number devil starts visiting the boy in his dreams posing various interesting math puzzles to him. In a sequence of 12 dreams the boy learns to enjoy the puzzles, and he also starts sleeping better. The puzzles and stories are at a level for a child in grade 4 or higher.
  • Pig’s Math: I have not yet reviewed this series. (Do you have any comments about it? Contact me!)

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Books for Parents and Teachers:

  • Beyond Facts & Flashcards—Exploring Math With Your Kids by Jan Mokros (Heinemann 1996): This book is full of interesting games and activities designed to involve children in fun math experiences in a family atmosphere. A lot of examples are given involving children in using math to analyze problems in their daily lives.
  • Bringing Math Home, a parent’s guide to elementary school math by Suzanne L. Churchman (Zephyr Press, 2006): As the title suggests, this is a book of elementary school math topics presented as lessons for parents to use with their children. The book is organized around the ten NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) standard areas of math. Each topic is presented with a description, an activity that can be done in the home, and one or two childrens books that can be read with your child. The book has a very good collection of activities and explorations for children. However, the math is not broken down into a progression of simple learning steps.
  • Helping Your Child with Mathematics (Grades K – 2) and Helping Children with Mathematics (Grades 3 – 5), by James Riley, Marge Eberts, and Peggy Gisler (Good Year Books, 1993 and 1996 respectively): These are some of the best guides giving a progression of learning steps and activities for parents teaching beginning math concepts to their children.
  • How to Develop Your Child’s Gifts and Talents in Math by Ronn Yablun (RGA Publishing Group, Inc., 1995): This book presents how to teach your child basic arithmetic, time telling, decimals, and fractions. The material is done in a incremental manner, but the chapters on arithmetic are not broken down into detailed learning steps.
  • Math Coach, A Parent’s Guide to Helping Children Succeed in Math by Wayne A. Wickelgren and Ingrid Wickelgren (Berkley Books, 2001): This is an excellent book aimed at showing a parent how to help reach a child’s full math potential. Lots of ideas are given for improving your child’s math environment both in and out of school. Half of the book covers a quick course on how a parent can teach their children basic aspects of mathematics from beginning arithmetic up through algebra.
  • Mathematical Investigations—A Series of Situational Lessons—Books 1, 2, and 3 by Randall Souviney, Murray Britt, Salvi Gargiulo, and Peter Hughes (Dale Seymour Publications): These books use a learning-through-problem-solving approach to a variety of mathematical topics. Each topic is covered for anywhere from four to ten pages. The topic coverage is organized so that the student investigates and discovers patterns and principles. General problem strategies, such as “looking for symmetry” and “guess and check,” are introduced and practiced frequently. The books are aimed at secondary school students, so they are a bit advanced for the readers of this book. However, a few of the simpler topics are within reach and are well worth the effort.
  • Math for Your First- and Second-Grader by Steve Slavin (John Wiley and Sons, 1995): Slavin’s book is probably the book most similar to my series of books. It is an excellent book designed for parents helping their children learning beginning mathematics. It starts with basic counting, and works its way through to counting to 1000, basic fractions, clock reading, and multi-digit addition and subtraction with regrouping. It does not do much with multiplication and division.
  • Math Matters by Suzanne H. Chapin and Art Johnson (Math Solutions Publications, 2000): This is an excellent book, intended for teachers, which gives a deeper look at the concepts for teaching basic math from counting up through starting geometry and algebra. It is not a step-by- step guide for the teaching of this material to children, but it has a wealth of good ideas and insights.
  • Mental Math in the Primary Grades by Jack A. Hope, Larry Leutzinger, Barbara J. Reys, and Robert E. Reys (Dale Semour Publications, 1988): This is targeted for teachers working in a classroom, but is easily used by a parent with one child. This book teaches how to do basic addition and subtraction of one- and two-digit numbers in a child’s head. The steps presented for single-digit adding and subtracting are very similar to those given in my first book. While I am not an enthusiastic supporter of putting a lot of time into learning techniques for doing amazing mental arithmetic, the steps provided in this book are basic enough that they are generally very useful.
  • What Your 1st Grader Needs to Know edited by E. D. Hirsch, Jr. (Doubleday, 1991): This is the first in a series of six books that covers first through sixth grade. As the title suggests, these books give a thorough description, along with lots of examples, of the material they think your child should know in every area of schooling for a given grade. The math sections in each book are reasonably detailed and provide a good progression from grade to grade.

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Books Teaching Math Subjects

  • The Art of Problem Solving—Introduction to Number Theory by Mathew Crawford (AoPS 2006) and The Art of Problem Solving—Introduction to Algebra by Richard Rusczyk (AoPS 2007): These books, by my friends at the Art of Problem Solving, are natural follow-ups to the associated topics covered in book 2. These books are excellent textbooks that teach by using lots of problem solving. Each section is started with problems to solve that introduce the topics of the section. After working on those problems the student is presented with a running commentary on how to solve those problems and problems like them. This is followed up by more problems to work on of the same type.
  • Can You Count in Greek?—Exploring Ancient Number Systems by Judy Leimbach and Kathy Leimbach (Dandy Lion Publications, 1990): This is a delightful book that teaches about the various number systems used in the ancient world. It is set up as a workbook, with extra notes for the teacher. It is aimed at grades 5 to 8.
  • Ultimate Kids’ Money Book by Neale S. Godfrey (Aladdin, 2002): This is reputed to be an excellent book for children ages 9 to 12 to learn about all aspects of money, including its history. I have not reviewed the book.

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Workbooks of Exercises

  • The Mad Minute by Paul Joseph Shoecraft and Terry James Clukey (Addison Wesley, 1981): This is a book filled with practice pages of math facts. The idea is to provide a challenge to see how many of the math facts your child can complete in one minute or some other set amount of time. This is a good resource when you want your child to practice drilling.
  • Mathematics (levels K, A – F) by Richard Monnard and Royce Hargrove (Modern Curriculum Press, 1994): This is a series of books for each grade level from first grade to sixth grade. They can be used as text books, or as an excellent source of exercise sheets for practicing most of the steps in this book. These books do an excellent job of breaking down the learning of the math subjects into gradual, incremental, well-described steps.
  • Tic Tac Toe Math (Grades 3–4) and More Tic Tac Toe Math (Grades 5–8) by Dave Clark (Dale Seymour Publications, 1996 and 1998 respectively): These two books offer great examples of how math can be practiced using the tic tac toe format.

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Books of Math Games, Puzzles, and Fun

  • Games for Math by Peggy Kaye (Pantheon Books, 1987): This excellent book provides fun games that parents can play with their children to teach counting and comparing, multi-digit addition and subtraction, place value, and beginning multiplica- tion. Many games are simple direct-calculation games, but some go beyond this to involve strategy and analysis.
  • Mega-Fun Card-Game Math by Karol L. Yeatts (Scholastic, 2000): This has 25 card games that are for one or two players. The level of math is for grades 1 to 3. These games provide good math practice, and are mostly calculational in nature.
  • Mega-Fun Math Games by Michael Schiro (Scholastic, 1995): This has 70 very good 2-player math games for grades 2 to 5. Many of the games use strategy and analysis, rather than straight calculation.
  • Sideways Arithmetic From Wayside School and also More Sideways Arithmetic From Wayside School by Louis Sachar (Scholastic, 1994): These two books are filled with letter substitution puzzles and math puzzles. The puzzles are put in the middle of engaging stories that are fun for children.
  • Solve This—Math Activities for Students and Clubs by James Tanton (The Mathematical Association of America, 2001): This has a fun collection of puzzles and mathematical activities.
  • 5-Minute Math Problem of the Day by Martin Lee and Marcia Miller (Scholastic, 2000): This book contains 250 problems providing fresh perspectives on elementary school mathematics. Each area has five to ten problems that are not as hard as a puzzle, but require more thinking than calculating a simple drill problem.

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© 2012 Chris Wright