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Incorporate math into your child's reading

by Cignition, on Dec 2, 2019 9:01:03 AM

When math is turned into a story with a beginning, middle, and end, children will place it in context and assign more meaning to the conceptual information being presented. In the sections below we have provided a variety of books that appeal to different interests and encourage students to engage in mathematical thinking in new ways.

Reading List: Relating Math to Topics that Interest Students

Depending on your child’s interests, the following books (available in most libraries) can help them understand mathematical concepts within a framework they find intrinsically motivating.  Since your children already love these topics, they are likely to find the books highly engaging (while learning math!).  However, the real benefit comes in after the book is finished when they begin to see the math each time they think about these topics in the future.  

The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets

By: Simon Singh

Math in the Real World Series:

These books are aimed at 8 to 11-year-old children and apply various math lessons to topics that are of interest to this age group.  If your child is interested in one of these topics it might be a good idea to show them how it relates to math through these books.  Each math concept is introduced within the context of the topic of interest and a problem to be solved is presented.

  1. A Math Journey Through Computer Games

By: Hilary Koll

Math Topics Covered:

Ratios and proportions, solving equations and algebra, quadrants and coordinates, large numbers and place value, 3D shapes and volume, mental rotations, percentages and value for money, time intervals and mental calculations, linear graphs, fractions, percentages, geometrical translations, Pythagorean theorem, angles and quadrilaterals.

  1. A Math Journey Through Extreme Sports

By: Hilary Koll

Math Topics Covered:

Mental computation, decimals, size ratios and similar triangles, area, angle and scale drawings, percentages, circle circumference, coordinates and negative numbers, right angled triangles and tangents, measurement conversions, mean, median, mode, and average.

  1. A Math Journey Around the Wonders of the World

By: Hilary Koll

Math Topics Covered:

Pyramids, nets, and surface areas, transformations (reflection, rotation, and translation) and symmetry, comparing and rounding numbers, working with large numbers, long multiplication, area, short division, hectares, multiplying by 100, working with negative numbers and temperature, golden ratio, golden triangle, early algebra, link between fractions and percentages, creating tables and plotting data.

  1. A Math Journey Through the Human Body

By: Anne Rooney

Math Topics Covered:

Number sense (factors and prime numbers, place values), working with tables and bar graphs, percentages, mixed operations, fractions, averages, relationships between decimals and fractions, using expressions and equations, trends and patterns, tables and graphs, triangles, and converting imperial and metric units,

  1. A Math Journey Through the Animal Kingdom

By: Anne Rooney

Math Topics Covered:

Adding and subtracting, perimeter and area, expressions, symmetry, stem-and-leaf plots, quadrants and coordinates, place value, properties of triangles and polygons, introduction to working with tables, and multiplication properties.

  1. A Math Journey Under the Ocean

By: Hilary Koll

Math Topics Covered:

Basics of negative numbers, percentages and percent change, four-quadrant coordinates, calculating averages and graphing, reading gages, linear graphs, proportions as fractions and decimals, area and perimeter, surface area to volume ratio, large numbers and exponents, area and volume of cones, and basic algebra.

  1. A Math Journey Through Space

By: Anne Rooney

Math Topics Covered:

Rounding numbers and estimating, working with time, introduction to angles, properties of addition, decimals, showing inequalities, lines and paths, pie charts, number patterns, multiplying and dividing with decimals, and surfaces of 3D shapes.

  1. A Math Journey Through Planet Earth

By: Anne Rooney

Math Topics Covered:

Working with large numbers, tallies and frequency tables, working with money, cubic units and volume, roman numerals, scale drawing, multiplying numbers with zeros, division, positive and negative numbers, pictograms, line plots and line graphs, plane and solid shapes, and working with time.

You do the Math Series:

This wonderful book series takes 8 to 11-year-old readers through adventures as they learn about how math relates to interesting careers.  If your child is interested in one of these topics, these books can be great way to practice math over the summer.  Math problems are integrated within the context of the story as children are encouraged to think through different ways that math relates to each topic.

Launch a Rocket into Space

You Do the Math

By: Hillary Koll and Steve Mills

Math Topics Covered:

Interpreting tables, working with timelines, 3D shapes and nets, measurements and comparisons, fractions of a whole, comparing weight, adding and subtracting, sequences and time, angles, temperature and negative numbers, reading dials and scales, calculating time intervals, and coordinates and graphs.

Solve a Crime

You Do the Math

By: Hillary Koll and Steve Mills

Math Topics Covered:

Fractions, decimals, percentages, interpreting tables, maps and coordinates, pie charts, timelines and calculations, area and fractions, working with time, frequency tables, measurements, ratios, and routes and directions.

Design a Skyscraper

You Do the Math

By: Hillary Koll and Steve Mills

Math Topics Covered:

3D shapes, reading and interpreting tables, working with graphs, coordinates, measurements and perimeters, negative numbers, 2D shapes, multiplication and division, mass, fractions and proportions, and decimals.

Fly a Jet Fighter

You Do the Math

By: Hillary Koll and Steve Mills

Math Topics Covered:

Adding and subtracting, handling data, timeline work, pie charts, interpreting tables, time intervals, multiplying and dividing, reading dials and scales, 2D shapes and triangular numbers, multiplying and angles, graphs, map work and coordinates, and angles and translations.

Using Maths: Design a Roller Coaster

Exciting Real Life Math Activities

By: Hilary Koll

Using Maths to Climb Mount Everest

By: Hillary Koll and Steve Mills

Using Math to Survive in the Wild

By: Hillary Koll, Steve Mills, Jonny Crockett, Debra Voege

Using Math in the ER

By: Hillary Koll, Steve Mills, Kerrie Whitwell, Debra Voege

Number Crunch Your Way Around North America

Math Explorations: Using Math to Learn about the Continents

By: Joanne Randolph

Kids can learn fun facts about North America through this book with a math challenge on each page.  While the recommended reading age is 8-12 years, the math challenges are more suitable for younger children (8 years or younger) and too simple for older children.

Math Topics Covered:

Addition and subtraction, charting and graphing

Reading List: Comic Books

Beast Academy Books: (8-10 years)

If your child likes comic books, they are also likely to enjoy learning math with Beast Academy.  This comic story integrates the fifth-grade curriculum by introducing various math topics through the story as the monsters at Beast Academy experience different adventures.  The math guides introduce and explain math concepts while the practice guides act as a workbook where students can practice what they learned.

Art of Problem Solving Beast Academy 5A Guide and Practice Book

By: Jason Batterson and Erich Owen

Math Topics Covered:

3D Solids (classifying solids, nets, surface area, and volume), Integers (multiplication, long products, division, exponents, and opposites), expressions and equations (notation, like terms, simplifying expressions, and solving multi-step equations).

Art of Problem Solving Beast Academy 5B Guide and Practice Book

By: Shannon Rogers, Kyle Guillet, and Jason Batterson

Math Topics Covered:

Statistics (median, mean, weighted mean, range, and mode), factors and multiples (factors, greatest common factor, least common multiple, factorials), fractions (addition and subtraction, multiplication, cancelling, and division).

Art of Problem Solving Beast Academy 5C Guide and Practice Book

By: Shannon Rogers, Kyle Guillet, and Jason Batterson

Sequences (patterns, finding terms, arithmetic sequences, and triangular numbers), ratios and Rates (ratios, proportions, speed, rates, and unit conversions), decimals (powers of 10, multiplication, division, and converting between fractions and decimals).

Art of Problem Solving Beast Academy 5D Guide and Practice Book

By: Jason Batterson

Percents (converting among fractions, decimals, and percents, estimation, proportions, and percent change), square roots (estimation, comparison, and the Pythagorean theorem), exponents (multiplying and dividing powers, negative exponents, scientific notation, raising a power to a power, and solving equations).

Reading List: Math Riddles and Logic Puzzles

While puzzles and games generally do not introduce new concepts, they are a good way of getting children to think about math and enjoy practicing mental computation over the summer.  An added benefit is that they can practice critical thinking and logical problem solving, valuable skills for future academic success.

Can You Solve My Problems? (12 and up)

Ingenious, Perplexing, and Totally Satisfying Math and Logic Puzzles

By: Alex Bellos

A series of fun but challenging puzzles and logic games for children.  Please note that many of the puzzles are difficult to solve.

The Moscow Puzzles: 359 Mathematical Recreations (10 and up)

By: Boris A. Kordemsky

A popular Russian book featuring brain teasers and math puzzles.  The math is simple, but does provide a fun way to keep children thinking about math over the summer.

Math Riddles For Smart Kids: Math Riddles And Brain Teasers That Kids And Families Will love (9-12 years)

By: M Prefontaine

Mathematical riddles and brain teasers.  These are similar to word problems, but more fun and engaging.

The Original Area Mazes (8 and up)

100 Addictive Puzzles to Solve with Simple Math―and Clever Logic!

By: Naoki Inaba

Readers have to figure out how to determine the area with the information they have for each game puzzle.

Math Topics Covered:

Calculating area

Puzzle Box Series

This series of mathematical challenges includes a variety of puzzles suitable for children over 10 years old.  Topics vary in difficulty and include 3D shapes, geometry, mental rotations and other manipulations, logic, mazes, riddles and word problems.

  1. Puzzle Box, Volume 1

By: Andrea Gilbert, Bram Cohen, Helen Grabarchuk, Donald Knuth, Ed Pegg Jr., Richard Candy, Erich Friedman, Harry Nelson, Shelly Hazzard, Tanya Grabarchuk, Peter Grabarchuk, Serhiy Grabarch, Peter Winkler

  1. Puzzle Box, Volume 2

By: Andy Parr, Donald Knuth, Ed Pegg Jr., Erich Friedman, Gianni A. Sarcone, Hasan Yurtoglu, Helen Grabarchuk, Richard Candy, Shelly Hazard, Tanya Grabarchuk, Peter Grabarchuk, Serhiy Grabarchuk

  1. Puzzle Box, Volume 3

By: Ali Kilick, Andrea Gilbert, Dennis Shasha, Ed Pegg Jr., Erich Friedman, Harry Nelson, Helen Grabarchuk, Shelly Hazzard, Tanya Grabarchuk, Peter Grabarchuk, Serhiy Grabarchuk

300+ Mathematical Pattern Puzzles: Number Pattern Recognition & Reasoning

By: Chris McMullen

Math Topics Covered:

Number sense, pattern recognition, mental computation, prime numbers, Fibonacci sequences, visual puzzles, Roman numerals, and arrays.

Reading List: Novels and Stories that Integrate Math

The following books incorporate math as a primary theme throughout the book:

The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure (11-15 years)

By: Hans Magnus Enzensberger

A young boy experiences math anxiety and experiences nigh mares. One night he meets the Number Devil who teaches him mathematical principles in a fun and interesting way.

Math Topics Covered:

The number one, the number zero, negative numbers, exponentiation, prime numbers, square roots, triangular numbers, Fibonacci numbers, permutations, factorials, natural numbers and irrational numbers, infinity, Euclidean geometry, vertices, edges, mathematical proofs, and imaginary numbers.

The Man Who Counted: A Collection of Mathematical Adventures (10-12 years)

By: Malba Tahan

A fun story where the main character uses his mathematical knowledge to outwit other people on his way to success.

Math and Magic Adventures Series (8-11)

Math and Magic in Wonderland

Math and Magic in Camelot

By: Lilac Mohr

Two sisters embark on a magical journey into an imaginary world where they learn about math, logic, literature, poetry, and history along the way. Although children will not need a strong math background to read this book, they will be using their brains to solve the riddles and puzzles. This book uses rich language and is quite funny and engaging.

Conned Again, Watson!

Cautionary Tales of Logic, Math, and Probability

By: Colin Bruce

Sherlock Holmes uses mathematical knowledge to solve crimes involving greedy gamblers, reckless businessmen, and ruthless con men who make errors based on common fallacies.

Math Topics Covered:

Statistics, probability, decision theory, and game theory.

The Parrot’s Theorem

By: Denis Guedj

The history of mathematics is discussed in the context of solving a murder mystery using mathematical clues.

Sir Cumference Math Series

By Cindy Neuschwander

This series of books uses puns and wordplay to introduce math topics in an engaging and fun atmosphere set around a knight and his family and how various math topics guide their daily adventures.

  1. Sir Cumference and the First Round Table

Math Topics Covered:

Circumference, diameter, and radius

  1. Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi

Math Topics Covered:


  1. Sir Cumference and the Great Knight of Angleland

Math Topics Covered:

Mathematical angles

  1. Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone

Math Topics Covered:

Mathematical angels, cubes, pyramids, cylinders, and cones.

  1. Sir Cumference and the Isle of Immeter

Math Topics Covered:

Perimeter and area of a circle.

  1. Sir Cumference and All the King’s Tens

Math Topics Covered:

Place value

  1. Sir Cumference and the Viking’s Map

Math Topics Covered:

Coordinate geometry

  1. Sir Cumference and Off-the-Charts Dessert

Math Topics Covered:

Pie charts and bar graphs

  1. Sir Cumference and the Roundabout Battle

Math Topics Covered:

Rounding and approximation

For the next set of books, math is a secondary element of the novel, often used for enhancing character development or enriching the story.

Holes (10-12 years)

By: Louis Sachar

A boy who has been sent to a detention centre realizes that there may be more to their daily task of digging holes as he tries to solve a mystery of what may really be going on behind the scenes. This is a highly engaging and popular book but parents should be aware that it has a somewhat dark theme involving punishments and revenge.

Math Topics Covered:

Ratios, proportions, and percentages.

The Phantom Tollbooth

By: Norton Juster

This classic book is reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and follows the adventures of a young boy who finds a tollbooth in his bedroom and embarks on a vivid journey, meeting interesting characters one of whom is mathematically inclined. This is a great book for learning about the value of education and problem solving.

Math Topics Covered:

Ratios, proportion, averages, measurement, estimation, and geometry.

Reading List: Novels Integrating Math and Finances

The following novels are a great introduction to the relationships between math and finances, economics, and stocks.

The Toothpaste Millionaire (10-12 years)

By: Jean Merrill


The Lawn Boy Series (8-12 years)

Lawn Boy

Lawn Boy Returns

By: Gary Paulsen

The Lemonade War Series (8-10 years)

The Lemonade War

The Magic Trap

The Lemonade Crime

The Candy Smash

The Bell Bandit

By: Jacqueline Davies

Reading List: Math Mysteries

Chasing Vermeer (9-12 years)

By: Blue Balliett

Two students decipher a series of clues to solve the crime of who stole the invaluable Vermeer painting.

Math Topics Covered:

Patterns, codes, symmetry, geometric shapes, Roman numerals, pentominoes, spatial visualization, and problem solving.

40 Fabulous Math Mysteries Kids Can’t Resist (9-13 years)

Fun-Filled Reproducible Mystery Stories That Build Essential Math Problem-Solving Skills

By: Martin Lee and Marcia Miller

A brief (1-2 page) story outlines a mystery that the reader must solve using the information provided by applying math.  This fun and engaging book helps increase confidence with math and improve math problem solving skills in a unique and engaging way.

Do the Math: Secrets, Lies, and Algebra (Age 9-12)

By: Wendy Lichtman

The main character is learning about algebra in school and relates what she is learning to her real life.  She uses math (e.g., Venn diagrams, parallel lines, the additive property of equality) to solve a possible murder.

Do the Math #2: The Writing on the Wall (9-13 years)

By: Wendy Lichtman

Math vocabulary explained through a fun and engaging mystery novel that incorporates realistic characters and typical middle school social situations.

Math Topics Covered:

Algebra, variables, factors, and symbols.

The Museum of Mysteries: Be a hero! Create your own adventure to rescue an ancient treasure (8-12 years)

By: David Glover

This book takes readers on a mysterious journey where they must solve problems along the way.  Two options are presented as they find the solution and they turn to a different page depending on which solution they chose.  If they chose incorrectly, they are told where they went wrong and redirected to reattempt the problem.

Math Topics Covered:

Decimals, even and odd numbers, factors, fractions, multiples, prime numbers, Roman numerals, and percentages.

Fractions in Disguise: A Math Adventure (8-10 years)

By: Edward Einhorn

Math Topics Covered:

Fraction simplification

Reading List: Math Games

Math Games & Activities from Around the World (8-10 years)

More Math Games & Activities from Around the World

By: Claudia Zaslavsky

Number Sense and Nonsense (7-10 years)

Building Math Creativity and Confidence Through Number Play

By: Claudia Zaslavsky

25 Super Cool Math Board Games (7-10 years)

Easy-to-Play Reproducible Games that Teach Essential Math Skills, Grades 3-6

By: Lorraine Hopping Egan

Mega-Fun Card-Game Math (7-9 years)

25 Games and Activities That Help Kids Practice Multiplication, Fractions, Decimals, and More – All with Just a Deck of Cards, Grades 3-5

By: Karol L. Yeatts

Math Games for Number and Operations and Algebraic Thinking: Games to Support Independent Practice in Math Workshops and More (5-9 years)

By: Jamee Petersen

Reading List: Math Magic

Mathemagic! (10-14 years)

Number Tricks

By: Lynda Colgan

A cute book filled with “magic” tricks that children can learn which involve interesting properties of numbers.  This book will get children to think about math and numbers while performing a seemingly unrelated task.

Self-Working Number Magic (10 and up)

101 Foolproof Tricks

By: Karl Fulves

This book is filled with fun magic tricks to get children thinking about numbers in a different way.


Magic, Puzzles and Games with Numbers

By: Royal V. Heath

An older number magic book that includes magic tricks, interesting properties of numbers, and tips and tricks for dealing with numbers.

Reading List: Relating Math to Everyday Activities and Surroundings

If: A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers

By: David J. Smith

By changing and varying the scale on which topics that would otherwise be too large to grasp can be understood, the author changes the way that children will see their worold in terms of numbers.

Math Everywhere Series (8-12 years)

Get the Measure: Units and Measurements

Fraction Frenzy: Fractions and Decimals

By: Bob Colson

Powers of Ten: A Flipbook

By: Charles Eames and Ray Eames

This interesting approach places our surroundings in perspective by soaring through the dimensions of the universe and end up with a single proton.

Math Topics Covered:

Number sense and relationships to our universe 

Reading List: Books About Mathematicians

Mathematicians Are People, Too (8-12)

Mathematicians Are People, Too

Stories from the Lives of Great Mathematicians

By: Dale Seymour Publications, Luetta Reimer and Wilbert Reimer

Children can learn about famous mathematicians in story format.

Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci (6-9 years)

By: Joseph D'Agnese

A Fly on the Ceiling (6-9 years)

By: Julie Glass

Math Topics Covered:

Cartesian coordinate system

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos (5-8 years)

By: Deborah Heiligman

Reading List: Arts and Crafts Relating to Math

Math + Art = Fun (8-10 years)

Teaching Kids to See the Magic and Multitude of Mathematics in Modern Art

By: Robin Ward

MathART Projects and Activities, Grades 3-5 (8-10 years)

By: Carolyn Ford Brunetto


Cool Flexagon Art: Creative Activities That Make Math & Science Fun for Kids!

By: Anders Hanson

Fantastic Flexagons: Hexaflexagons and Other Flexible Folds to Twist and Turn

By: Nick Robinson


Easy Origami

Over 30 Simple Projects

By: John Montroll

Origami to Astonish and Amuse

By: Jeremy Shafer

Origami Ooh La La! Action Origami for Performance and Play

By: Jeremy Shafer

Reading List: Math Topics Presented in an Engaging Way

The Magic of Math

Solving for x and Figuring Out Why

By: Arthur Benjamin

Middle school and high school mathematical topics are presented in an engaging way to help readers understand math from a different perspective.

The Joy of x

A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity

By: Steven Strogatz

Through a series of examples from our everyday surroundings and other interesting topics (e.g., pop culture, medicine, law, philosophy, art,and business, the author takes the reader through a number of relevant math concepts to help put math in easy to understand terms.

Here's Looking at Euclid

From Counting Ants to Games of Chance - An Awe-Inspiring Journey Through the World of Numbers

By: Alex Bellos

Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension: A Mathematician's Journey Through Narcissistic Numbers, Optimal Dating Algorithms, at Least Two Kinds of Infinity, and More

By: Matt Parker

While this book explains mathematical concepts in a fun and engaging manner, many of the concepts are advanced and more appropriate for high school students.

Mystery Math (6-9 years)

A First Book of Algebra

By: David A. Adler

This book uses a Halloween theme to introduce algebraic concepts and equations in an engaging and memorable way as spooky creatures are added, subtracted, multiplied, and divided.  The math is worked out on each page allowing students to see the links between the story’s images and the corresponding numbers.

Fractions, Decimals, and Percents (6-9 years)

By: David A. Adler

A simple introduction to fractions and how they related to decimals and percents.

Perimeter, Area, and Volume

A Monster Book of Dimensions



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