Category Archives: Books for Kids

Math Curse by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith

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Math Curse 

by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith

This entertaining picture book addresses a condition suffered by many kids and adults alike – math anxiety – specifically anxiety about word problems. Math Curse tells the story of a child who believes she has been put under a curse by her (his?) math teacher, Mrs. Fibonacci. One morning, Mrs. Fibonacci says, “You know, you can think of almost everything as a math problem.” The next day, everything our main character sees becomes a math problem. She can’t escape!

The imaginative dream-like illustrations and the silly “math problems” make this a fun read. My 8-year old son was laughing all the way home from the library and kept insisting on reading passages to me.  He asked that I include his favorite passage in this review:

“I try to get on the bus without thinking about anything, but there are 5 kids already on the bus, 5 kids get on at my stop, 5 more get on at the next stop, and 5 more get on at the last stop. True or False: What’s the bus driver’s name?”

You’re child won’t actually learn to do math problems from this book, but it introduces many math topics like  fractions, charts, base systems, and unit conversion. And, in the end, the main character overcomes her math phobia and is doing word problems like a champ.

Go Figure! by Johnny Ball

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Go Figure! A Totally Cool Book About Numbers

by Johnny Ball

Of all the books about math that we have purchased or checked out of the library, this is our favorite. My son was already interested in math when we bought this, but I credit this book with convincing him that math is the coolest subject.

Every brightly-colored page of this book is packed with pictures and fascinating information on topics such as ancient number systems, infinity, prime numbers, and fractals. There is so much on each page, that it may seem a little overwhelming at first, but that is part of what it makes this book so great. You can come back to it again and again and learn something new each time.

The book is divided into four main chapters:

  • Where do Numbers come from?
  • Magic Numbers
  • Shaping Up
  • The World of Math

Some of the questions that Ball answers in the book include:

  • Did Cavemen Count?
  • How many molecules are in one glass of water?
  • How do insects use prime timing to survive?
  • Why are hexagons found so often in nature?

In addition to all the information, Ball includes many brain-teasers and activities you can try at home, such as making a tetrahedron out of an envelope and drawing your own maze.

This book is recommended for ages 8 and up, but it could be good for child that is slightly younger. I bought it for my son when he was 5, and my daughter, who is currently 5, enjoys looking at the pictures. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has a child that is interested in math or anyone looking for a little inspiration to help their child love math.