Read your way to a love of math: 50 titles for ages 4-12

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Read your way to a love of math
Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool

For the past few weeks we’ve explored math study from a different perspective, asking two important questions: Why do we do what we do when it comes to this subject? Are there other valid approaches to consider?

Past posts in this math series:
A different way to look at math
Out of the box math inspiration

A different way to look at math

An alternative to workbook pages in the early years is the simple sharing of a book spread open across your lap. It’s one of the easiest ways to create a blossoming love of numbers and patterns in a child’s heart and mind.

I started to put together a massive list of books for you to choose from in today’s post, but then I stopped to consider what I would have found most helpful when I was getting started as a slightly-insecure homeschooling mama.

I realized that I would have loved to have a handful of well-chosen math titles, recommended by a blogger I trusted.

I’ve tried to provide that for you here, highlighting the resources we’ve found most enjoyable in our own family – as well as including a list of other popular books you may want to check out.

Enjoy the journey as you read your way to a love of math!

Bedtime Math

Who is it for? Ages 4-12

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What a fun addition (get it?!) this resource is for your math-learning littles.

Sign up to receive a daily email with a math question, or get one of the three published Bedtime Math books: Bedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay Up Late; Bedtime Math: This Time It’s Personal; or Bedtime Math: The Truth Comes Out.

The beauty of bedtime math is that there are questions geared to a variety of learning-levels, making it something you can use for your preschoolers all the way to your pre-teens!

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Life of Fred

Who is it for? Ages 6-College

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Since I started this math series, I’ve been asked the same question several times: “I’d like to approach math differently, but what can I do if I have to provide documentation for my state and/or my kids have to take a standardized test?”

My top recommendation for those in the above situation would be to explore Life of Fred Math, a curriculum that goes from early elementary all the way through college level math–but in a very different way to the norm!

Used in a structured or formal way, you’d be able to approach math creatively but still be able to provide the documentation you need to meet your local requirements.

Like any resource, Life of Fred isn’t for everyone. But my kids love it, and I love that I can read math aloud at the lunch table!

(Note: You can explore the curriculum here, but the cheapest place I’ve found to purchase Life of Fred is through Educents.) 

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Mathemagic

Who is it for? Ages 4-12

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Mathemagic is Volume 13 of a kids’ encyclopedia series that used to be produced by Childcraft. It is full of inspiring math stories, clever puzzles, riddles, and games–perfect for reading aloud or putting on the shelf for your kiddos to flip through.

(Math study aside, we have a used set of several Childcraft volumes and hardly a day goes by that I don’t see a child with one of the titles tucked under their arm in our home–so colorful and fun! No longer in print, check for them on Amazon or Ebay.)

Mathematicians Are People, Too

Who is it for? Ages 8-12

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This is a fascinating collection of short stories about the lives of the great mathematicians throughout history–often including the details about how they developed their groundbreaking theories and discoveries.

A perfect way to show our kids what passion for math looks like, this series contains two volumes.

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Sir Cumference Series

Who is it for? Ages 7-11 (give or take)

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The Sir Cumference books introduce foundational geometry concepts through adventurous stories–radius and diameter, data collection, perimeter, area, and pi all make an appearance in this growing series (currently eight books).

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Other titles to explore for ages 4-8

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Other titles to explore for ages 8-12

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** Update: This series is now finished! You can find the final post here – enjoy!

“Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty.”
~ Bertrand Russell

Do you have any inspiring math titles to add to our list for ages 4-12?

Originally published on March 16, 2015.

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She is the co-founder and editor of Simple Homeschool, where she writes about mindful parenting, intentional education, and the joy found in a pile of books. Jamie is also the author of a handful of titles, including her newest release, Give Your Child the World.

Comments

  1. Annaleah says:

    Thank you for this list! My oldest is in Kindergarten this year and I’d like to hold off on formal math studies for a couple of years, but at the same time introduce basic math in some way. Right now our main method of teaching math happens through conversations that come up, and I wasn’t sure what my next step would be. Reading some of these books sounds like a great idea!

  2. My kids all loved Ben Franklin and the Magic Squares (Step into Reading)http://www.amazon.com/Franklin-Magic-Squares-Step-Into-Reading-Step/dp/0375806210. We also loved G is for Google http://www.amazon.com/Is-Googol-Math-Alphabet-Book/dp/1883672589 And books by Marilyn Burns!

  3. Oops. Messed up my links! Need more coffee! Sorry about that.

  4. This is a great list! And it covers all six of my kids which is hard to do! Thank you for taking the time to compile this list and share it. Have you seen Family Math? It would be a good complement to this list. It’s funny too. I just posted on my blog about how to create a well-rounded book list for any topic! We must be on the same wavelength:) Thanks again! Do you have a printable for of this list? I’d love to print it off and take it with me to the library.
    Angela Awald’s latest post: How To Create a Well-Rounded Book List for Any Topic

  5. Thank you, thank you for all these great titles!!! Will work some of them into our homeschool plans for next year!
    Julie’s latest post: Hogwarts

  6. I have a ten year old whom I have stressed out about math. We also have to report for our state. I know we need a break, but I can’t seem to see how to get there. Thank you for these suggestions. I will see if my library has any of these titles. Could you tell me what your “math time” during the day usually looks like? (If this is a future post-I will happily wait!)

    • Right now my two children who are in Love of Learning Phase (my 11 & 10-year-olds) do a bit of math using Life of Fred a few times a week (takes 10-15 minutes). My 10-year-old son is memorizing his multiplication tables and we work on that just a few minutes each day. Then I also read a chapter aloud from Life of Fred at lunch time to everyone and we answer the questions aloud together (again, this takes 10-15 minutes).

      I’d recommend investing in Life of Fred if you must report for your state and if you have a child who is burnt out on math, but first I’d recommend a detox period where you downscale and take a break for a few months – just playing games and exploring natural math as it comes up in life, and reading books like these from the library! That, combined with what you’ve already done, would still give you plenty to report on!

  7. Great list! Thank you for sharing. I love reading math books with my young children ( 5,4,1). My son has learned so much math through living math and stories. I am always looking for more. I would add Can you Count to Googol by Robert E. Wells http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0807510610/ref=mp_s_a_1_sc_1?qid=1426516488&sr=8-1-spell&pi=AC_SX110_SY165_QL70&keywords=how+to+count+to+googel

  8. What a great list! I would also highly recommend “Math for Smarty Pants” by Marilyn Burns, a really fun book from the Brown Paper School Book series. It’s basically applied math with witty math problems that give clear context to conceptual math. My 9YO loves it, and does what she can from it as she learns various concepts, but it’s definitely worth getting for older kids as well. I can’t believe that I picked it up at Goodwill for a dollar…. it’s a fabulous book! In fact, we loved it so much that I searched out a bunch of other Brown Paper School books on history, problem solving, geneaology, anatomy, and other topics. We’re switching out of public school after this year, and I plan to transition over the summer using these fun books as we make our way into a mix of home & private school.

  9. Thanks for the list! We also love The Cat in Numberland by Ekeland, though it may be out of print (we just borrow it more than our fair share from the library). It’s fun even when the concepts are over the kids’ heads. It’s about infinity, among other things.

    • My Daughter also loved The Cat in Numberland! We have a copy and she was really into it a few years ago and read it more times than I can count (math story about infinity – pun intended!). Same time period another favorite of hers (non-math related) was The Greedy Apostrophe – like you we did not own it and I think we were the only ones to ever check it out of the library so eventually bought the book to have at our own home and let others have a shot at finding the book in the library.

  10. We’ve been fighting about math since Kid 1 started her first math book at age 5. She’s almost 9 now. Your first couple of posts for this series FINALLY articulated what I’ve been trying to figure out all this time and FINALLY gave me a clear way to communicate this to my husband, who gets really frustrated when our kids are “behind” because he’s very reluctant about homeschooling in the first place. So bless you bless you bless you for that. The current plan is to bail on the drill-and-kill online program and NOT order new math books, but spend the rest of this calendar year reading books like these that you list, playing number games, and messing around with shapes, patterns and other living math like getting better at telling time. And I’m looking at Life of Fred because my kids really like to read. Thank you again!
    treen’s latest post: Women’s History Month kickoff

    • Treen, this comment is the absolute highlight of my day. It makes all the hours put into these posts feel worth it – thank you and blessings on you and your daughter as you fall in love with math together!!

  11. So appreciate this list.

  12. Thank you so much for these! I knew some of them but many were new to me. Checking most of them out from my library.

  13. Renee P. says:

    I’ve seen quite a few of these (from the younger category) and our library has most of them – hooray! My kids really enjoy math in a read-aloud format, so they will be happy with all these new fun books!

  14. this series of posts has been so helpful and encouraging to me. i have a 12 yr old who hates math, and a 9 who secretly loves it, and i wonder how much is the fact that i pushed it with the older (because we “should” be Doing Math!) and haven’t with the younger? makes me sad…but, .going forward! We have also enjoyed an old Time Life series from our library called I Love Math – themed puzzle books introducing different concepts – and are starting to explore The Adventures of Penrose the Math Cat by Theoni Pappas. We loved The Number Devil…

  15. I’ve been really saving this list–going through it slowly by myself and putting some titles on hold at the library. Quite a number of them I’ve read to my kids before and we’re big Fred fans, but so many I hadn’t heard of before….love this math series!
    Sarah M
    Sarah M’s latest post: Spring Break

  16. Does anyone have a more “hands on approach” for Math? I have 3 girls that need more hands on and reading is great for me. But my girls need more hands on. We’ve been doing Saxon Math and it is driving us all bats. Any suggestions would be helpful.

    • Hi Cassie. I plan to write another post talking about math games, supplies, videos, etc – I think that might be a good fit for you? Off the top of my head I’d recommend the book Games for Math by Peggy Kaye. It’s a book that describes hands-on math games to create and play.

  17. Thank you so much for this list, Jaime!
    I appreciate the time it took to put it together! 🙂

  18. These are great resources, Jamie!

    Question to Jamie and the crowd: I’d like to know about Spectrum.
    Are you all familiar with Spectrum Math, reading & language arts?
    I’ve read almost all positive reviews on Amazon, but I still don’t know if the books are a complete curriculum for every subject or just supplements.
    Any help would be appreciated (I’m just starting out).
    Sincerely,
    Jessica

  19. Such amazing titles in here, Jamie. I’m someone who always performed well in math but never loved it. I find now, as a homeschooler, that I treasure the math books. Must be the book worm in me 🙂
    Cait Fitz @ My Little Poppies’s latest post: On Motherhood

  20. We love the book Hannah, Divided

  21. Thank you SO MUCH for this list. I am looking for ways to help me 3 year old become aware of numbers/amounts/counting, etc. He loves going to the library and getting books, so I know this will be SO HELPFUL as we begin our homeschooling journey. I’m a newbie, but starting this fall and doing as much research as I can right now! Thank you!
    Kareena’s latest post: My New Fav

  22. Jamie I’m loving this series. My son loves to read, but fights me about doing math so these are great suggestions! Someone already suggested family math. Not really a read aloud but that is a great series of hands on math games and activities. We also have a book called Go Figure that we found in the library but enjoyed so much we got our own copy. Recently we discovered the British collection of books called “murderous maths” by Karan Poskitt. It claims to be “maths with all the laughs added in.” There are 4 for younger kids and then a whole set for older kids. You can buy them on amazon but they ship from the uk so it’s a little slow or some for kindle. I also just got the first beast math by AoPS. My son wants nothing to do with the workbook but the “textbook” is a comic strip about monsters learning math. He loved it.

  23. Lisa Dreisigmeyer says:
  24. Thank you for this! As a booklover, booklist addict and former math hater who is learning to delight in math and trying to encourage my 8yo son, we’re going to try to read as many of these as possible. 🙂

  25. We have the entire LOF series, and we love it. We’ve also enjoyed Bedtime Math. I love that it has questions for different levels of math skills. I will definitely have to check out some more of these, especially Mathematicians Are People, Too. Thanks for sharing!
    Shelly’s latest post: Why Should We Homeschool?- Part 3- Values

  26. Aundrea Cherry says:

    We love “That’s Not My Math Book” that Usborne Books & More sells. Such a fun way to put all your math in to practice. 🙂

  27. I’m digging this list! My wife homeschools our three boys. For our oldest she uses Math U See / Epsilon and he seems to really be enjoying that. However, he loves reading and fantasy so the Sir Cumference I think would be a great fit.

    I had never heard of that one so I will pass that along to her! Hopefully we just found a new series that he and his brothers will love 🙂

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