The best books for helping your kids fall in love with math

The Books I Picked & Why

How Much Is a Million?

By David M. Schwartz, Steven Kellogg

How Much Is a Million?

Why this book?

Big numbers are just as amazing to kids as dinosaurs, and for the same reason. They’re so incredibly huge that they boggle the mind. This book helps kids comprehend big numbers using everyday objects and scenarios. If a million kids sat on each other’s shoulders, how high would they be able to reach? How long would it take to count to a million? Once they master a million, your kid will be well on their way to tackling quadrillions, nonillions, and, heaven help us, decillions!


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One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale

By Demi

One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale

Why this book?

This is a classic mathematical fable that has been brought to life by several authors. Demi sets the story in India, and it’s marvelous to watch how quickly the numbers add up when you take a single grain of rice and double it day after day. The illustrations, inspired by traditional Indian art, are breathtaking, and may well inspire your child to create their own mathematical art. At the very least, they’ll start demanding more tasty rice dishes at the dinner table.


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Grandfather Tang's Story

By Ann Tompert

Grandfather Tang's Story

Why this book?

Tangrams are ancient Chinese puzzles made of up to seven interlocking geometric shapes. As Grandfather Tang assembles his polygons, the animals he creates spring to life. You’ll be astonished to learn all the creatures you can make with a square, a parallelogram, and five triangles. Wooden or plastic tangram puzzles are easy (and inexpensive) to find online, but be sure to help your child make their own out of paper so they can get solid, hands-on experience seeing how they can transform a square into so many different shapes.


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The Phantom Tollbooth

By Norton Juster, Jules Feiffer

The Phantom Tollbooth

Why this book?

The world’s most bored kid travels to a strange land and discovers why learning is the greatest thing a human would ever want to do. Our hero, Milo, visits Dictionopolis and Digitopolis; meets Tock, a “watchdog” with clocks embedded in his sides; a wizard called the Mathemagician, and a 12-sided creature called the Dodecahedron. I still read this one at least once a year just to brush up on my ability to crack jokes and make puns.


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The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure

By Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Rotraut Susanne Berner, Michael Henry Heim

The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure

Why this book?

This is a higher reading level than the other books on this list, but it’s SO worth it. A bizarre creature drags a math-hating kid on a transformative adventure in the world of numbers. It’s all here: prime numbers, number patterns, even my beloved Fibonacci. The illustrations are beautiful, and the writing lighthearted and lovely. The author is a famous German poet who, as far as I know, has only written this one for kids. We’re lucky he did.


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