Monday, June 22, 2009

Nonfiction Monday - A Mathematical Trio

Since I'm in the midst of teaching a course on the teaching and learning of math, I have math books on the brain. Here are three I like that cover numbers, time and money.

Used Any Numbers Lately?, written by Susan Allen and Jane Lindaman and illustrated by Vicky Enright, is an alphabet book that examines where numbers are found in our daily lives. The text is minimal, but that doesn't detract from it's usefulness in acquainting young children numbers and their uses. Many of the numbers described in the book are nominal, meaning they are used for identification. Examples include apartment number, bus number, house number, jersey number, etc. A few ordinal numbers also make an appearance, as in floor number (sixth) and grade number (first). As to those letters that often make an alphabet book difficult to write, they were handled pretty well, with Q as question number (what kid won't related to question numbers on a quiz?) and X as x equals ? number (x as in a variable). I actually thought this was a relatively interesting way to introduce the notion of a variable. The illustrations are full of energy and do a fine job of demonstrating the use of each number. There were a few uses I was disappointed with, but that's par for the course in any alphabet book. The page for N says "We're number ONE!" I was so hoping for a weather report, a snowy day, a chilly thermometer, and negative numbers. Also, the page for U reads "Your number's up!" and shows a number being served at a deli counter. Despite these minor concerns, this is a nice book for developing number sense.

A Second is a Hiccup: A Child's Book of Time, written by Hazel Hutchins and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton, looks at different quantities of time and provides some reasonable estimates. The book begins with the question "How long is a second?" The answer?
A second is a hiccup--
The time it takes to kiss your mom
Or jump a rope
Or turn around.
The text goes on to look at the length of a minute, hour, day, week, month, and year. The watercolor illustrations show a diverse cast of children and families engaged in the the activities described. I like everything about this book, particularly the lyrical text. My favorite section is about the length of a week.
How long is a week?

Seven days all in a line.
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday
Thursday Friday and the end day
Saturday--a favorite one!
Some are quiet, some are fun.

Work days, home days, play days, school days

Seven wake-ups, seven sleeps
This is a wonderful book that provides a terrific introduction to time in all its varied measures.

Making Cents, written by Elizabeth Keeler Robinson and illustrated by Bob McMahon, provides a kid-friendly look at money and equivalencies. On the first page readers meet a group of kids with a dream to build a clubhouse. It begins with one penny.
There's a pretty perfect penny in my pocket--
a copper-colored penny, very
smooth around the edge.
With this one-cent penny
we can buy . . .
a perfect
penny nail.
What's nice about the text is that in a very thoughtful, concise description kids learn exactly what a penny looks like (copper color, smooth edge). The illustrations extend this knowledge by depicting the front and back of the penny and the object that can be purchased with it. The book continues "Look! We have five pennies./ We can trade them for a .../ Nickel!" Each successive page describes the coin, shows it, AND shows what can be purchased. In the case of the nickel, the purchase can be five penny nails or one wood screw. The illustrations depict the kids working to earn more money (lemonade stand, leaf raking, dog walking, window washing, etc.) and the accumulation of wealth continues. As the money amounts increase, there is quite a bit of multiplication going on with the items for purchase. For example, on the five-dollar bill page kids see 500x penny nails, 100x wood screws, 50x marking pencils, 20x squares of sandpaper, 5x hinges, and 1x tape measure. The book ends when the kids reach $100. The author's note at the end describes some of the denominations not used in the book (half-dollar and two-dollar bill) and provides information about how our money is always changing. Links to useful web sites are also included. A terrific introductory book.

Here's a bit more information on each book.

Book: Used Any Numbers Lately?, written by Susan Allen and Jane Lindaman and illustrated by Vicky Enright
Publisher: Millbrook Press
Publication Date: September, 2008
Pages: 31 pages
Grades: K-2
ISBN: 978-0822586586

Book: A Second is a Hiccup: A Child's Book of Time, written by Hazel Hutchins and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Publication Date: March, 2007
Pages: 40 pages
Grades: K-2
ISBN: 978-0439831062

Book: Making Cents, written by Elizabeth Keeler Robinson and illustrated by Bob McMahon
Publisher: Tricycle Press
Publication Date: June, 2008
Pages: 32 pages
Grades: K-3
ISBN: 978-1582462141

This post was written for Nonfiction Monday. This week our host is Tina at Tales from the Rushmore Kid. Do stop by and see what others are sharing in the world of nonfiction today.


  1. Oh, thank you! That Making Sense book sounds fantastic and the money thing is always a challenge.

  2. Thet all sound great - I especailly like the sound of A Second is A Hiccup - I think my eight-year-old would enjoy it; in fact, it would be good for us to read it together as our notions of time are soooo different!

    While browsing some US sites recently, I have come across a series of maths books called Sir Cumference... They aren't published in the UK but I liked the sound of them. Do you know them?

  3. PS Whoops, just read my comment through after hitting the button - sorry about all the typos...

  4. A Second Is A that title.