math storybook

Math Storybooks

If you’re looking for a creative project that involves math, here’s an idea.

One of the little girls in my Saturday math group enjoys writing stories. So this past weekend, we decided to write our own math story. Our plan is to work on it for 10 or 15 minutes every week, until we have a completed story. I thought I’d describe the beginning of our creative process here. I’ll tell you about the completed book in a future post.

Why read a math storybook? Two reasons. First, it has been shown that reading improves math performance. Second, math storybooks are a fun way to introduce mathematical concepts.

Why write our own math storybook? Just one reason. It is a great way to make math fun.

The Creative Process

We began by perusing a couple of math storybooks that I own. They are:

the grapes of mathif you were a fractionThe Grapes Of Math by Greg Tang and Harry Briggs

If You Were a Fraction (Math Fun) by Trisha Speed Shaskan and Christianne C. Jones

Then we talked about how the books use pictures and words to present math concepts. I gave the books to my student to take home and read from cover to cover.


Next we approached the idea of characters. I tried to be a good facilitator, asking lots of questions but not providing any answers, with one exception. Since the story was born on March 14, 2015 (the Pi day of the century!), I suggested that one of the characters have the name Pi. My student thought that was a fine idea. Maybe she was just humoring me, but in any case, she agreed.

Here’s how the conversation proceeded, minus the “uhms”.

    Me: What kind of creature is Pi? A human? An animal? A tree? Something else?
    Student: A human.
    Me: Is Pi a boy or a girl?
    Student: A girl.
    Me: What is Pi like?
    Student: She has short, curly, brown hair and she is 10 years old. (My student has long, straight, brown hair. We females always seem to want the opposite of the hair we have.)
    Me: Does Pi have any friends?
    Student: She has a friend who is a girl, and her name is Candy.
    Me: Does you have any male friends?
    Student: Yes. His name is Edwin.
    Me: Where does the story take place? It can be a real place or an imaginary place, whichever you prefer.
    Student: At a big fair.
    Me: When does it take place? In the past? The present? The future?
    Student: Twelve years from now.
    Me: What year will that be?
    Student: 2027.

What’s Next?

And so, we had the beginnings of our math storybook. I asked my student to think about how the story would start, and about how Pi got her name. We stopped there, since we had lots of math activities to get to. We’ll continue to work on the story every week. Once it’s completed, we’ll illustrate it. Then we’ll share it with all of you. Stay tuned!

p.s. Here are some other wonderful math storybooks. Many of them are available “used” on Amazon.

The Multiplying Menace Divides (Math Adventures) by Pam Calvert and Wayne Geehan

Sir Cumference and the Viking’s Map (Charlesbridge Math Adventures) by Cindy Neuschwander and Wayne Geehan [Check out the whole series of Sir Cumference books!]

Tyrannosaurus Math by Michelle Markel and Doug Cushman

A Place for Zero (Charlesbridge Math Adventures) by Angeline Sparagna LoPresti and Phyllis Hornung

Zero the Hero by Joan Holub and Tom Lichtenheld

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