Greg Tang Math Series (ages 3-13) by Greg Tang
As I went through several books in this series with my 9 year old, I observed that he was engaged and enthusiastic. The illustrations are vibrant and interactive. Ideally, these books could be used as a warm up before a math lesson or as enrichment at home or school. My son and I just cuddled up together and went through them. He was thrilled each time he solved a riddle successfully (and almost always before I could). Because the pictures are essential, these may be harder to modify to a whole class setting unless the pictures could be viewed through an overhead. They could be used for small group activities though. This series would be a wonderful addition to a classroom or home library for independent reading.
Math Fables. Highlighting the numbers 1 to 10, there are short, rhyming poetic verses focused on counting as well as behaviors such as cooperation, friendship, courage, and appreciation. Animal and insects are used in the illustrations. Each number is shown in multiple ways to build up the concept of adding. For instance, for the number 8 there are 5 groupings and short poems to show that 5+3, 4+4, 7+1, 6+2, and 8+0 all equal 8. The same format is followed for the other numbers using the proper addends. There is also a Math Fables Too.
The Best of Times. Using simple rhymes, strategies for multiplying any number with zero through 10 are provided. This book introduces techniques for how to multiply bigger numbers quickly. Also, the connections of multiplication, addition, and division are illustrated. For instance, when multiplying a number by 5, it is suggested to round 5 to 10 and, then, cut it in half. So if you have to solve 24 x 5, you could instead multiply 24 x 10 = 240/2 = 120. Another example shows how multiples of 8 are doubles three times. So 6 x 8 would be: 6 + 6 = 12 12+12 =24 24+24= 48. Similar strategies are given for each number 1-10.
Math Potatoes: Mind-stretching Brain Food & The Grapes of Math. My son was most engaged in this problem solving rhymes and pictures. Each two-paged layout includes an amusing poem in rhyming couplets and a corresponding picture. In the poem, there is a clue for how to count the items the most efficiently by grouping them and multiplying or adding. My son was challenged by these, but he had a great amount of success which was confidence building for him. There is an answer key in the back in case you get stumped.
Math Start Series (ages 3-9) by Stuart J. Murphy
The Math Start Series is broken up into three levels, each with about 20 titles. At the author’s website, books can easily be identified based on level and skill. I reviewed two books in this series The Sundae Scoop and Let’s Fly a Kite. The Sundae Scoop is a story centered on combinations. There are aspects of addition and subbtraction as well. In Let’s Fly a Kit, symmetry is explored through several real-life scenarios. The storytelling is just a means to an end. The real benefit for children is to see that math is relevant in everyday situations. Since these are not stories you will likely read over and over (unless you are a classroom teacher), I’d suggest using the library to utilize these books. I found that a large portion of this series was readily available at my local branch.
How High Can a Dinosaur Count? (ages 7-9 ) by Valorie Fisher
This selection is not a part of a series, but I feel it is worthwhile to mention. Each two page spread has a problem solving riddle and a picture. Using one or more mathematical operations, students can work out the riddles (usually in their heads). In the back of the book, there are additional questions for each picture that can be utilized to practice thinking skills. This book is ideal for a child on a second to third grade math level.