8 books that engage kids into Math

Do you have a kid who loves to read but struggles with Math? Did you know that you can inspire your kid to engage with Mathematics without nagging them to do so? We hear many teachers using literature to supplement a lesson in history or science; but its not very common to hear them using books to supplement math lessons. I am not sure why that does not happen, because I find that as one of the easiest and effective ways to enhance Math skills. While there are many books for preschoolers and toddlers to enhance their basic mathematical skills, I will focus more on books that can be given to teenagers.

The Cat in Numberland

By Ivar Ekeland, Illustrated by John O’Brien

While this is a fun book for preschoolers, it can be intriguing read for teenagers. Its about Hilbert’s paradx of the grand hotel. The story revolves around Hotel Infinity owned by Mr. And Mrs. Hilbert. The hotel is full of numbers (integers), and yet guests continue coming. The hotel has room for everyone; and yet it is always full. There is chaos with zero turns up, because Mr.Hilbert insists zero is not an integer. Yet, Zero stays! And then the letters appear, and even they are accommodated. While Mr.Hilbert wants to keep all the rooms occupied, Mrs.Hilbert wants to admit new guests. And then fractions arrive and need to be accommodated too 🙂

The book touches upon many mathematical conepts, right from addition, subtraction, division, infinity, theory of induction to countable and uncoountable infinites. The illustrations make the book very entertaining.

You Do the Math: Fly a Jet Fighter

By Hilary Koll and Steve Mills

This will be a great read for kids who are obsessed with planes. The reader is supposed to be on a mission to be the best fighter pilot. He/ She is supposed to lead a team of jet pilots. The book has math problems which need to be solved at every stage of the mission. Kids get to learn about various concepts of flying and get to learn mathematical concepts like line graphs, decimals, pie charts. In addition, they get to discover the history of fighter jets and names of various fighter jets. The book has a glossary as well as solutions to the problem at the end.

If your kid likes this book, there are 3 other books in this series by the same author: Design a skyscraper, Solve a crime and Launch a rocket in space.

Secret Coders Series

By Gene Luen Yang. Illustrated by Mike Holmes

This award winning author has written many books for teenagers and is the National Ambassador for Young’s people literature in US. It requires the reader to use mathematical logic, puzzles and programming skills to solve mysteries. The book is not only about Maths and coding; but also revolves around friendship, family and other themes. The illustrations are fun and entertaining too!

You Can Count on Monsters

By Richard Evan Schwartz

This book beautifully illustrates the concept of prime factorization for the first 100 numbers. Each number is represented with a number of dots, and a multiplication number bond for composite numbers. The fact that numbers have personalities (a monstorous one that too) and each number gets its picture on its own page makes the book a fun read. This is a perfect book for kids who love maths and kids who hate maths and anyone in between 🙂

The Magic Mirror Book

By Marion Walter

This book is very different from the usual books. Its an interactive book which has some 12 designs in each page. The reader is supposed to work out the problem using a mirror. Problems are like make a half-moon into a whole moon, fix a broken plate, complete the shapes, make the work longer etc. The book is good for understanding the concept of symmetry, counting, distance, geometry.

Mathematicians are People, Too

By Luetta Reimer and Wilbert Reimer

This book has 2 volumes and each focusses on the life of great mathematicians. It has small anecdotes and stories about mathematician’s work. The story also includes their parents, teachers, school, friends. It brings out Math more as a creative field which kids can explore. The mathematicians covered in the book include Pythagoras, Archimedies, Gelileo, Newton, Pascal, Ramanujan among many others. Its a great read for kids and adults!

The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure

By Hans Magnus Enzensberger. Illustrated by Rotraut Susanne Berner

This book is about a boy called Robert who has Arithmophobia, which is the fear of maths. He has 12 dreams, 1 each night in which he dreams about the “Math devil”. The way this book inspires kids into Maths is that the dreaded mathematical terms are not called how they are usually called. For eg. Roots is called rutabaga and Wumm is factorial. At the end of every chapter, the kid will be able to understand the concepts well and later relate to it when he/ she goes through the mathematical equivalent. There is also a table at the end of the book translating the new terms to known terms for us. The book explains concepts like factorial, roots, rational numbers, complex numbers, Fibonacci series etc.

The Man Who Counted

By Malba Tahan

This book is set in middle east has 34 short stories. It is about a mathematical problem solver who uses maths to solve riddles, myteries and settle disputes. At times, the book sounds little religious, but overall its a good book to understand how mathematics can be applied to real life situations. Reading this book reminded me of Arabian Nights.