Over at Bookish Ways today you'll find a post describing some books on math and puzzling in honor of Math Storytelling Day. After reviewing the entry once it posted, I realized I was missing an important set of stories.
Have you seen or heard this old folktale?
This problem is one of the earliest mentions of Chess in puzzles. It was first suggested by the Arabic mathematician Ibn Kallikan who, in 1256, posed the problem of the grains of wheat, 1 on the first square of the chess board, 2 on the second, 4 on the third, 8 on the fourth etc. There are several children's books that examine this concept of doubling.
One Grain of Rice, written and illustrated by Demi
written by David Birch and illustrated by Devis Grebu
written by David Barry and illustrated by Donna Perrone
A Grain of Rice, written by Helena Clare Pittman
You can see the problem written out with all the math at The Legend of the Chessboard. At the Math Forum page entitled A Fable you can learn the distance all those grains of rice stretched end-to-end would extend. And for one final story, check out Robert Krulwich's post entitled That Old Rice-Grains-On-The-Chessboard Con, With a New Twist.