A list of great living books for elementary math, as well as some ideas on how to make math more interesting for children.
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Living Books for Elementary Math


The term living books is a very popular one in homeschooling, but what are living books?

Simply Charlotte Mason explains them this way:

Living books are usually written by one person who has a passion for the subject and writes in conversational or narrative style. The books pull you into the subject and involve your emotions, so it’s easy to remember the events and facts. Living books make the subject “come alive.” They can be contrasted to dry writing, like what is found in most encyclopedias or textbooks, which basically lists informational facts in summary form. You might be surprised to find that living books are available for most school subjects — even math, geography, and science!

So often children (and adults) think of math as boring and I think some of that stems from the way we have been taught math in the past. For some reason it is acceptable for kids to not like math, it’s almost like we expect it from them.

There are two ways I think we can help children take an interest in math:


This can be done by counting, adding, subtracting, dividing and using fractions in their day-to-day life, there are numerous instances in a day where we do this, even if you just think about the way you can use it when the kids are helping in the kitchen. Ask them to pull out 10 potatoes to peel for supper, or tell them you need to set the table for 6 people and you already set for 4 people and ask how many more they need to set, give them a pile of candies and tell them they need to share them equally among their siblings and ask how many each kid got, ask them to help you make cookies and get the measuring cups needed for the recipe, the list could go on . . .

You can also share about numbers when shopping, if you are looking for a birthday present for a friend tell them how much money you are willing to spend and let them see what they come up with for that price, is it one bigger item, two smaller ones or multiple little ones?

Whenever you find yourself working with numbers throughout the day ask them to join in!


How to Teach Math Without a Curriculum - easy ways to teach kids math



I already shared what living books are, imagine how much more kids will be interested in living math books as opposed to dry textbooks! You can get living math books on counting, adding, subtracting, grouping, multiplying, dividing, and so much more! They work as a great introduction into a concept or as a reminder about a concept any time throughout the year.

Today I wanted to share just a few living math books, but there are lots more, some of the authors from the books below have written other living math books as well.


A list of great living books for elementary math, as well as some ideas on how to make math more interesting for children.




How Many Snails?: A Counting Book

A series of simple questions directs young readers to determine the differences between seemingly similar objects, encouraging them to develop powers of observation, discrimination, and visual analysis. There’s plenty of opportunity to practice counting, too (but that’s just the beginning!).


From the Garden: A Counting Book About Growing Food

Pea pods, cucumbers, and strawberries provide plenty of opportunities for counting in the garden! Follow Dad, Grandma, and other family members as they pick and count. Hidden numbers on every page give readers an opportunity to search and learn.


Math Curse

Did you ever wake up to one of those days where everything is a problem? You have 10 things to do, but only 30 minutes until your bus leaves. Is there enough time? You have 3 shirts and 2 pairs of pants. Can you make 1 good outfit? Then you start to wonder: Why does everything have to be such a problem? Why do 2 apples always have to be added to 5 oranges? Why do 4 kids always have to divide 12 marbles? Why can’t you just keep 10 cookies without someone taking 3 away? Why? Because you’re a victim of the Math Curse. That’s why. But don’t despair. This is one girl’s story of how that curse can be broken.


Sir Cumference and All the King’s Tens

Sir Cumference and Lady Di planned a surprise birthday party for King Arthur, but they didn’t expect so many guests to show up. How many lunches will they need? And with more guests arriving by the minute, what about dinner? Sir Cumference and Lady Di have to figure out a quick way to count the guests to bring order to the party.


A Place for Zero

Zero is lonely in Digitaria. He can’t play Addemup with the other numbers, because he has nothing to add. What’s a digit to do? Join Zero as he goes on a journey to discover his place.


Mummy Math: An Adventure in Geometry

Matt, Bibi, and their dog Riley crawled through the tiny opening first. FWUMP! A secret door suddenly closed behind them . . .

The Zills family is summoned to Egypt to help find the hidden burial chamber of an ancient pharaoh. But when Matt and Bibi get trapped in the pharaoh’s pyramid, they stumble upon an even bigger mystery. With only each other, their dog Riley, and the geometric hieroglyphics on the walls to help them, the twins must use their math skills to locate the burial chamber―and the way out. Luckily, Matt and Bibi know their stuff when it comes to geometric solids, and so will the readers of this adventure in math!


12 Ways to Get to 11

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 __ 12 What happened to 11?
Is it in the magician’s hat? Maybe it’s in the mailbox or hiding in the jack-o’-lantern? Don’t forget to look in the barnyard where the hen awaits the arrival of her new little chicks. Could that be where eleven went?
Eve Merriam and Bernie Karlin take young readers on a counting adventure as they demonstrate twelve witty and imaginative ways to get to eleven.


The Grapes of Math

“How many grapes are on the vine?
Counting each takes too much time.
Never Fear, I have a hunch
There is a match for every bunch!”
Greg Tang, a lifelong lover of math, shares the techniques that have helped him solve problems in the most creative ways! Harry Briggs’s vibrant & inviting illustrations create a perfect environment for these innovative games. So open your mind-and have fun!


One Hundred Angry Ants

Hi dee ho! It’s off to a picnic we go! One hundred very hungry ants hurry to sample the delights of a picnic, but marching in single file seems too slow for 100 empty tummies. The smallest ant of all suggests they travel in 2 rows of 50, four rows of 25 . . . and the division begins. One Hundred Hungry Ants is not only a spirited and whimsical story, but also serves as an enjoyable visual introduction to math.


The Greedy Triangle

In this introduction to polygons, a triangle convinces a shapeshifter to make him a quadrilateral and later a pentagon, but discovers that where angles and sides are concerned, more isn’t always better.


How Big is a Foot

The King wants to give the Queen something special for her birthday. The Queen has everything, everything except a bed. The trouble is that no one in the Kingdom knows the answer to a very important question: How Big is a Bed? because beds at the time had not yet been invented. The Queen’s birthday is only a few days away. How can they figure out what size the bed should be?


Interested in more math books for kids? Check out this list of 30 Math Books for Kids from my friend June over at This Simple Balance.


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