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How to Teach Kids Mathematics Using Children's Literature

Children's literature can be used in the classroom to add to a lesson on language, arts, social sciences, and more, but we rarely hear of teachers using literature for math lessons. You may be surprised to know how easy and helpful it can be, so we'll explore how children's literature can complement a math lesson and give you good examples to use in everyday life.

Literature and Math

Research has shown that math lessons can be enhanced for many reasons when using children's literature. It can build a perception of math through illustrations, and students can learn valuable skills for problem solving. In addition, children's literature is able to provide an important context for mathematical information, it can model a more complicated problem or explain a concept. It can also help students understand numbers and review certain skills. Finally, it promotes critical thinking among students and makes them more interested in math. When children are able to make concrete math connections in a story they're reading, it immediately makes math more interesting and approachable. They will learn that math is used everywhere around them in daily life, and they can use their skills to connect math concepts to the world.

Children's Books Suggestions

There are surprisingly a lot of children's books that have math content and themes. It's important to consider these options when you're choosing a good book for your child or student. Here, we'll explore a few examples for various concepts or skills in math.

Counting and Addition

One of the best options here is 'Quack and Count,' by Keith Baker. This children's book teaches children about different ways that numbers can be added together to make new numbers. There are great illustrations of ducklings that students can look at and count, and they will learn different additions to get the same result. A similar concept is taught in the book '12 Ways to Get to 11,' by Eve Merriam.

'Mission Addition' by L. Leedy is another good book for young children because you can learn different strategies to figure out math problems, learn about math symbols and terminology, and how to write equations.

Briefly, here is a list of other counting and adding children's literature books that are worth reading with children:

  • 'Every Buddy Counts' by Stuart J. Murphy.
  • 'From One to One Hundred' by Teri Sloat.

Subtraction and Counting Backwards

Robin Greely, a teacher at Writing Populist, says that "my top suggestion for children to learn subtraction and counting down is 'Monster Math' by Grace Maccarone. This is quite a silly, funny story about monsters disappearing. Counting backwards the monsters as there are fewer and fewer is useful for showing students a number sense and subtraction." There is also 'Ten Timid Ghosts' by Jennifer O'Connell, which uses repetition and clever rhymes to help students learn to count backwards. It's an excellent option for teaching students to write number sentences and how to subtract. Another similar book is 'Turtle Splash! Countdown at the Pond' by Cathryn Falwell.

Here is a list of other books to consider for teaching these concepts:

  • 'Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed' by Eileen Christelow.
  • 'If You Were a Minus Sign' by Speed Shaskan.


According to Helene Donnelly, an educator at My Writing Way, "measuring can be taught with help from books like 'Mr Cookie Baker' by Monica Wellington. This story shows students how to measure, mix, and bake cookies, which is a fantastic and engaging way to learn about measurement." Another great option is 'Who Sank the Boat?' by Pamela Allen, which can be used for any students from kindergarten and higher, and introduces students to the concepts of weight and balance in an exciting way.

Also look for these great options:

  • 'Just a Little Bit' by Ann Tompert.
  • 'Measuring Penny' by Loreen Leedy.


Finally, there are some great children's literature books that can help teach students about money. 'The Penny Pot' by Stuart Murphy shows Jessie counting coins while students from grades 1-3 can count along with her. There is also 'Alexander Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday' by Judith Viorst, which is an important book for teaching students about the value of money using an exciting story and great illustrations.

You should also consider these following books for teaching money concepts to children:

  • 'A Dollar for Penny' by Julie Class.
  • 'A Quarter for the Tooth Fairy' by Caren Holtzman.

Guest Blogger: Aimee Laurence, a teacher at UK Writings and Essay Roo, shares her tips and insight on learning and education. You can also find her tutoring at Help with research papers.



Internet4classrooms is a collaborative effort by Susan Brooks and Bill Byles.




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