The best children’s books about math and science

Andrea Menotti Author Of How Many Jelly Beans?
By Andrea Menotti

Who am I?

I’m a deeply curious person who has always loved the intersections of science and art, and the related intersection of the humanities and technology. I also have a passion for children’s books and have worked as both a writer and an editor, and as a developer of interactive apps and games based on children’s books. My latest book is a collaboration with one of my favorite childhood (and teenage) writing partners, Hena Khan. It’s an adventure where you get to make choices that turn you into a hero or a villain. It’s called Super You: The Power of Flight. I hope you’ll check it out!

I wrote...

How Many Jelly Beans?

By Andrea Menotti, Yancey Labat (illustrator),

Book cover of How Many Jelly Beans?

What is my book about?

How Many Jelly Beans? is a giant book of giant numbers! It’s an award-winning picture book that helps kids visualize what big quantities look like. Starting with ten, children work their way up to a thousand, then ten thousand, a hundred thousand, and finally, one million! These quantities take the form of colorful jelly beans spread out all over the pages. The final spread folds out like a big poster so all the jelly beans will fit! There’s even a little bit of division thrown in, when kids learn how many jelly beans they’d be eating per day if they ate a thousand jelly beans in a year. Numbers like this become so real for kids when they are colorful beans of their favorite flavors!

The books I picked & why

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The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter's Wonder

By Mark Cassino, Jon Nelson,

Book cover of The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter's Wonder

Why this book?

Full disclosure, I worked on this book as an editor. But it’s because of that experience that I know how hard the author/photographer and scientist consultant worked to tell this story in a way that was clear and fun for kids! I love reading it to my children and frequently give it as a winter-themed gift. I love the beautiful, through-the-microscope photos of the crystal shapes. I also like how the book clarifies the difference between snowflakes and snow crystals, since we very often refer to snow crystals as “snowflakes” – but they are too small for the eye to see from a distance unless they are clumped together. (The clumps are the “snowflakes.”) Such a fun winter read, and a great non-holiday-themed addition to any family’s winter book collection.

A Seed Is Sleepy

By Dianna Hutts Aston, Sylvia Long (illustrator),

Book cover of A Seed Is Sleepy

Why this book?

This book is that rare combination of poetry and nonfiction, art and science. Elegant and informative, the book features gorgeous realistic paintings that depict all kinds of seeds and the plants that grow from them. It’s the kind of book that you could sweep through in a bedtime reading session, and then later, find the child poring over the illustrations and asking questions. Such an important and eye-opening area of science to share with young children! 

The Lorax

By Dr. Seuss,

Book cover of The Lorax

Why this book?

This book is a great primer for a budding young conservationist. It plants seeds for interesting conversations with (older) children about human impact on the world. Sensitive younger children may find it a bit dark, but that is where the conversations about “what could come next” (i.e. the truffula trees coming back) can help shine a light on a hopeful future if we make the right choices.

The Kid Who Named Pluto

By Marc McCutcheon, Jon Cannell (illustrator),

Book cover of The Kid Who Named Pluto

Why this book?

I didn’t want to leave older children out of this list. This book would make a fantastic gift for a child who loves science but considers themselves “too old” for picture books. This beautifully illustrated chapter book features children who followed their curiosities and questions to real discoveries that helped the world! A very inspiring read.

The Worst-Case Scenario: Mars

By Hena Khan, David Borgenicht, Robert Zubrin, Yancey Labat (illustrator)

Book cover of The Worst-Case Scenario: Mars

Why this book?

For the oldest kids, I find this whole Worst-Case Scenario series to be so excellent! This one was developed with an expert consultant on Martian exploration, so it takes kids through the real choices they would have to make if they traveled to Mars. There is nothing like being in the driver’s seat, making life or death choices, to help someone really learn about a subject. This book will have them so stepped in Mars as they read, their fingertips will be covered in red dust! Well, almost!

5 book lists we think you will like!

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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