Math Bibliographies

I am not sure how long educators have been keeping lists of books that are valuable for teaching mathematical concepts. Certainly, children’s literature has always discussed mathematical issues because math is in so many parts of our daily lives! I was excited to find two math bibliographies from the 1950’s. I appreciated the glimpse into the history of using literature to teach math. Even in the 1950’s, math textbooks were including examples of literature that could be used to teach math and others were making bibliographies of more examples (Hutcheson et al 1956).

In the tables below, I list the books suggested from each bibliography and add categories for what type of math concept is included in the book.

Math Bibliographies From Half a Century Ago!

Hess’s 1957 article updates the Hutcheson et al bibliography, particularly for primary and older grades (Hess adds nothing to recommend for grade 4, and only a couple for grade 3). Hess’ bibliography for the younger grades is almost exclusively to teach counting and telling time. This is in line with the recommendations from Hutcheson et al in 1956: most books for younger grades involve counting, and Hutcheson et al repeatedly suggests that some books go “too far” when introducing counting beyond 10, showing microscopic or gigantic sizes, or dealing with “abstract” (their words) concepts.

Math Bibliographies From Today

Librarians have continued the practice of preparing lists of books that support teaching math. The Hawai‘i State Public Library System has a bibliography of 31 books, called Math Picture Books for Kids, that I found in the McCully Moiliili Branch when I was browsing the children’s books section. The School Library Journal has a 2014 post with 43 books.

I compared these two lists with the types of books I saw in the lists from the 1950’s. Today, there are many more books for younger ages dealing with larger numbers, problem-solving, and concepts the authors from the 1950’s might have felt too abstract. For instance, Demi’s One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale came up on both the new lists, and this book is for younger students and deals with exponential growth.

Even with all the new math concepts compared to lists from the 1950’s, telling time is notably absent from the newer lists; only one book, from the HSPLS list, focuses on time (Hutchins’ A Second is a Hiccup). Even with digital time-telling devices, I think being able to tell time on a clock is still important. More important is being able to correctly add and subtract time–this is really difficult even for adults! I’d look for newer books about working with time, because I think the authors in the 1950’s were smart for including such books.


  • Hess, Adrien L. 1957. “A Bibliography of Mathematics Books for Elementary School Libraries.” The Arithmetic Teacher 4 (1): 15–20.
  • Hutcheson, Ruth, Edna Mantor, and Marjorie Holmberg. 1956. “The Elementary School Mathematics Library: A Selected Bibliography.” The Arithmetic Teacher 3 (1): 8–16.
  • Kropp, Lisa G. 2014. “Marvelous Math Books for PreK and Up.” School Library Journal, March.
  • Le Page, Mysti. 2012. “Math Picture Books for Kids”. Hawai‘i State Public Library System.

Suggested Current Books (Compiled from Kropp and Le Page)

Author. Title. Year. Topics Source Grade/Age
Adler, David A. Millions, Billions & Trillions: Understanding Big Numbers. 2013. Large numbers Kropp Gr 2 Up.
Adler, David A. Triangles. 2014. Geometry Kropp Gr 2 Up.
Adler, David A. You Can, Toucan, Math: Word Problem-Solving Fun. 2006. Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division Kropp Gr 1-3.
Axelrod, Amy. Pigs at Odds: Fun with Math and Games. 2000. Probability Kropp Gr K-2
Birch, David. The King’s Chessboard. Progression Le Page
Boynton, Sandra. Hippos Go Berserk! Counting Le Page
Burns, Marilyn. Spaghetti and Meatballs for All! A Mathematical Story. 1997. Geometry Kropp Gr 1-3.
Campbell, Sarah C.  Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature. 2010. Addition, Fibonacci numbers Kropp Gr 3 Up
Carle, Eric. The Grouchy Ladybug. Measurement, Sequence, Estimation, Comparison, Fractions Le Page
Chae, In Seon. How do you Count a Dozen Ducklings? 2006. Counting Kropp PreK-1
Clements, Andrew. A Million Dots. 2006. Large numbers Kropp
Colgan, Lynda. Mathemagic! Number Tricks. 2011 Math facts Kropp Gr 3-5
D’Agnese, Joseph. Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci. 2010. Addition, Fibonacci numbers, Historical math figures Kropp Gr 2 Up
Dee, Ruby. Two Ways to Count to Ten: A Liberian Folktale Counting, Skip counting Le Page
Demi. One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale. Exponential growth Le Page
Demi. One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale. 1997. Exponential growth Kropp Gr 1-3
Dugan, Joanne. 1 2 3: A Counting Book of New York City. 2007. Counting Kropp PreK-1
Duke, Kate. Twenty is Too Many. Subtraction Le Page
Endicott, Jodi. I Had a Dollar in Hawaii: A Story About One Dollar That Traveled Hawaii. Economy, Money Le Page
Franco, Betsy. Mathematickles! Collection Le Page
Giganti, Paul. How Many Blue Birds Flew Away? Counting, Comparison Le Page
Goldstone, Bruce. Greater Estimations. 2008. Counting, Estimation Kropp Gr 1-3
Gunderson, Jessica. How Big? Wacky Ways to Compare Size. 2014. Measurement, Comparison Kropp PreK-2
Harris, Trudy. Pattern Bugs. 2001. Patterns Kropp PreK-1
Heiligman, Deborah. The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdős. 2013. Problem solving, Historical math figures Kropp Gr 2 Up
Hong, Lily Toy. Two of Everything. Exponential growth Le Page
Hutchins, Hazel. A Second is a Hiccup. Time Le Page
Jenkins, Steve. Actual Size. 2004. Measurement, Proportion Kropp PreK-3
Lasky, Kathryn. The Librarian Who Measured the Earth. 1994. Measurement, Historical math figures Kropp Gr 2 Up
Leedy, Loreen. It’s Probably Penny. 2007. Probability Kropp PreK-2
Leedy, Loreen. Mission: Addition. 1997. Addition Kropp Gr 1-3
Lewis, J. Patrick. Artithme-Tickle: An Even Number of Odd Riddle-Rhymes. 2002. Riddles/Puzzles Kropp Gr 1-4
Lewis, J. Patrick. Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie: Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems. 2012. Riddles/Puzzles Kropp Gr 2-5
Lionni, Leo. Inch by Inch. Measurement Le Page
Litton, Jonathan. Mesmerizing Math. 2013. Measurement, Probability, Symmetry, Geometry Kropp Gr 3 Up
Long, Ethan. The Wing Wing Brothers Geometry Palooza! 2014. Geometry Kropp K-2
Long, Ethan. The Wing Wing Brothers: Carnival De Math. 2013. Addition, Subtraction Kropp Gr 1-3
Maccarone, Grace. Three Pigs, One Wolf, and Seven Magic Shapes. Tangrams, Shapes Le Page
McElligot, Matthew. The Lion’s Share. Fractions, Division, Multiplication Le Page
McMillan, Bruce. Eating Fractions. Fractions Le Page
McNamara, Margaret. How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? 2007. Estimation Kropp PreK-2
Merriam, Eve. 12 Ways to Get to 11. 1996. Counting Kropp PreK-1
Murphy, Stuart J. A Pair of Socks. 1996. Patterns Kropp PreK-K
Murphy, Stuart J. Leaping Lizards. 2005. Counting Kropp K-2
Murphy, Stuart. The Sundae Scoop. MathStart series Le Page
Murphy, Stuart. Three Little Firefighters. Shapes, Sorting, MathStart series Le Page
Otoshi, Kathryn. One. Counting Le Page
Overdeck, Laura. Bedtime Math. 2013. Collection Kropp PreK-4
Pallotta, Jerry. Ocean Counting: Odd Numbers. 2005. Counting Kropp K-2
Pinczes, Elinor. Inchworm and a Half. Fractions, Measurement Le Page
Reid, Margarette. The Button Box. Sorting Le Page
Reiser, Lynn. Hardworking Puppies. Subtraction Le Page
Rosenthal, Amy Krause. Wumbers. 2012. Coding Kropp Gr 2-4
Schwartz, David M. If Dogs Were Dinosaurs. 2005. Ratio, Proportion Kropp Gr 1-4
Schwartz, David. If You Made A Million. Economy, Money Le Page
Scieszka, Jon. Math Curse. Math anxiety Le Page
Scieszka, Jon. Math Curse. 1995. Math anxiety Kropp Gr 1-4
Sebe, Masayuki. Let’s Count to 100! 2011. Counting Kropp PreK-K
Seuss, Dr. The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. Place values Le Page
Shannon, George. Stories to Solve: Folktales from Around the World. Collection Le Page
Sherry, Kevin. I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean. Size, Proportion Le Page
Slade, Suzanne. The Great Divide. 2012. Division Kropp Gr 2-4
Stills, Caroline. Mice Mischief: Math Facts in Action. 2013. Addition Kropp PreK
Tang, Greg. Math Fables Too: Making Science Count. 2007. Counting, Addition Kropp PreK-K
Tang, Greg. Math-terpieces: The Art of Problem Solving. 2003. Problem-solving, Addition Kropp Gr 2-5
Tang, Greg. The Grapes of Math: Mind Streching Math Riddles. Riddles/Puzzles Le Page
Tang, Greg. The Grapes of Math: Mind Stretching Math Riddles. 2001. Riddles/Puzzles Kropp Gr2-5
Thompson, Lauren. How Many Cats? 2009. Addition, Subtraction Kropp K-1
Thompson, Lauren. One Riddle, One Answer. Riddles/Puzzles Le Page
Tompert, Ann. Grandfather Tang’s Story. Shapes, Tangrams Le Page
Viorst, Judith. Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday. Economy, Money Le Page
Walsh, Ellen Stoll. Mouse Shapes. Shapes Le Page
Wells, Rosemary. Bunny Money. 1997. Economy, Money Kropp PreK-1
Wood, Audrey. Ten Little Fish. 2004. Counting Kropp PreK

Older Books For Comparison (Compiled from Hess and Hutcheson)

Author. Title. Year. Topics Source Grade/Age
Adler, Irving. Time In Your Life. 1955. Time (Science) Hess Upper grades
Anderson, Raymond. Romping Through Mathematics 1947. Algebra, Geometry, Calculus Hess Upper grades
Andrews, F. E. New Numbers 1935. Math history Hutcheson Upper Elementary
Banigan, Sharon. One By One. 1953. Addition Hess Lower grades
Beebe, Catherine. The Calendar. 1940. Calendar Hutcheson Lower grades
Behn, Harry. All Kinds of Time. 1950. Time Hutcheson Lower Elementary
Bendick, Jeanne. How Much and How Many. 1947. Applied math Hutcheson Upper Elementary
Berkowitz, Ethel S. The Size of It. 1950. Proportion Hutcheson Lower grades
Berkowitz, Ethel S. Ups And Downs. 1951. Spatial relationships Hutcheson Lower grades
Bianco, Pamela. The Doll in the Window. 1953. Economy, Money Hutcheson Lower grades
Bragdon, L. J. Tell Me the Time Please 1936. Time Hutcheson Lower Elementary
Brann, Esther. Five Puppies for Sale. 1948. Counting Hutcheson Lower grades
Brindze, Ruth. The Story of Our Calendar 1949. Calendar Hutcheson Lower Elementary
Brody, Virginia. Round the Clock Book. 1956. Time Hess Lower grades
Brown, Margaret Wise. Two Little Trains. 1949. Spatial relationships Hutcheson Lower grades
Budney, Blossom. A Kiss Is Round. 1954. Shapes Hess Lower grades
Buff, Mary and Conrad. Big Three. 1946. Time, Size Hutcheson Upper Elementary
DuVoisin, Roger Antoine. Two Lonely Ducks. 1955. Counting Hess Lower grades
Eichenberg, Fritz. Dancing in the Moon. 1955. Counting Hutcheson Lower grades
Fenton, Carroll Lane, and Fenton, Mildred Adams. World in the Sky. 1950. Distance, Size Hutcheson Lower Elementary
Flynn, Harry Eugene, and Lund, Chester Benford. Tick-Tock, A Story of Time. 1938. Time Hutcheson Lower Elementary
Fowler, H. Walter, Jr. Kites. 1953. Applied math Hutcheson Upper Elementary
Freeman, Mae and Ira. Fun With Figures. 1946. Geometry, Shapes Hutcheson Upper Elementary
Friend, Newton. Numbers: Fun And Fact. 1954. Math History Hess Upper grades
Friskey, Margaret. Chicken Little Count-to-Ten. 1946. Counting Hutcheson Lower grades
Gag, Wanda. Millions of Cats. 1945. Large numbers Hutcheson Lower grades
Gilles, William F. The Magic and Oddities of Numbers. 1953. Riddles/Puzzles Hess Upper grades
Haddleton, Maud. Numbers. Measurement Hutcheson Upper Elementary
Hall, William and Robin. Telltime Goes A’Counting. 1956. Counting Hess Lower grades
Hall, William. Telltime the Rabbit. 1955. Time Hess Lower grades
Hogan, Inez. Twin Lambs. 1951. Spatial relationships, Shapes Hutcheson Lower grades
Hogan, Inez. We Are A Family. 1952. Counting, Size comparisons Hutcheson Lower grades
Hogben, Lancelot. The Wonderful World of Mathematics. 1955. Math, history of Hess Upper grades
Huffman, Peggy. Miss B’s First Cookbook. 1950. Measurement, Fractions Hutcheson Lower Elementary
Karasz, Ilonka. The Twelve Days of Christmas. 1949. Counting Hutcheson Lower grades
Kaula, Edna M. One, Two, Buckle My Shoe. 1951. Counting Hess Lower grades
King, Dorothy N. Set the Clock. 1946. Time Hess Lower grades
Kojima, Takashi. The Japanese Abacus. 1954. Calculus Hess Upper grades
Lach, Alma S. A Child’s First Cookbook 1950. Measurement, Fractions Hutcheson Lower Elementary
Leaf, Munro. Arithmetic Can Be Fun. 1949. Math facts Hutcheson Lower grades
Leeming, Joseph. From Barter to Banking. 1940. Economy, Money Hutcheson Upper Elementary
Leeming, Joseph. Fun With Puzzles. 1946. Riddles/Puzzles Hutcheson Lower Elementary
Leeming, Joseph. More Fun With Puzzles. 1947. Riddles/Puzzles Hutcheson Lower Elementary
Marshak, Ilin. What Time Is It? 1932. Measurement, Time Hutcheson Upper Elementary
Meeks, Esther K. One Is the Engine. 1947. Counting Hess Lower grades
Monrad, Jean. How Many Kisses Goodnight. 1949. Counting Hutcheson Lower grades
Moore, Lilian. My First Counting Book. 1956. Counting Hess Lower grades
Norman, Gertrude. The First Book of Music. 1954. Rhythm Hutcheson Lower Elementary
Parker, Bertha Morris. Heat. 1942. Measurement Hutcheson Upper Elementary
Reed, Mary and Osswald, Edith. The Golden Picture Book of Numbers: What They Look Like and What They Do. 1954. Collection Hess Lower grades
Sawyer, W. W. and Srawley, L. G. Designing and Making. 1952. Applied math Hess Upper grades
Schlein, Miriam. Heavy Is A Hippopotamus. 1954. Measurement Hutcheson Lower grades
Schlein, Miriam. It’s About Time. 1955. Time Hess Lower grades
Schlein, Miriam. Shapes. 1952. Shapes Hess Lower grades
Schlein, Miriam. The Four Little Foxes. 1953. Counting Hutcheson Lower grades
Schloat, G. Warren. Adventures of a Letter. 1949. Distance, Time, Measurement Hutcheson Lower Elementary
Schneider, Herman and Nina. How Big Is Big. 1950. Size Hutcheson Lower grades
Seuss, Dr. McElligot & Pool. 1947. Size, Shapes, Comparison Hutcheson Lower grades
Shackles, G. L. S. Mathematics at the Fireside. 1952. Algebra, geometry Hess Upper grades
Skaar, Grace. The Very Little Dog. 1949. Size Hutcheson Lower grades
Smith, David Eugene, and Ginsberg, J. Numbers and Numerals. 1937. Math history Hutcheson Upper Elementary
Smith, David Eugene. Number Stories of Long Ago. 1919. Math history, Riddles/Puzzles Hutcheson Upper Elementary
Smith, David Eugene. The Wonderful Wonders of One-Two-Three. 1937. Math history Hutcheson Lower Elementary
Steiner, Charlotte. The Big Laughing Book. 1949. Riddles/Puzzles Hutcheson Lower grades
Thomas, Joan Gale. One Little Baby 1956. Counting Hess Lower grades
Todd, Mary Fidelis. ABC and 1 2 3. 1955. Counting Hutcheson Lower grades
Townsend, Herbert. Our Wonderful Earth. 1950. Time, Distance, Comparison Hutcheson Lower Elementary
Tresselt, Alvin. Follow the Road. 1953. Spatial relationships, Size, Counting Hutcheson Lower grades
True, Louise and Owens, Lillian. Number Men. 1948. Counting Hess Lower grades
Tudor, Tasha. 1 Is One. 1956. Counting Hess Lower grades
Watson, Nancy Dingman. What Is One? 1954. Counting Hess Lower grades
Watson, Nancy Dingman. When Is Tomorrow? 1955. Time Hess Lower grades
Weeks, Raymond. Boys’ Own Arithmetic. 1924. Collection Hess Upper grades
Weissenbor, H. Counting. 1948. Counting, Multiplication Hutcheson Lower grades
Werner, Elsa Jane. The Golden Geography Book. 1952. Time, Size, Comparison Hutcheson Lower Elementary
Wooley, Catherine. Two Hundred Pennies. 1947. Addition, Subtration, Money Hutcheson Lower grades
Zarchy, Harry. Let’s Make Something. 1941. Applied math Hutcheson Lower Elementary
Ziner, Feenie and Thompson, Elizabeth. The True Book of Time. 1956. Time Hess Lower grades
Zolowtow, Charlotte (Shapiro) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. 1956. Counting Hess Lower grades
Zolowtow, Charlotte (Shapiro) I Learn My Numbers. 1955. Counting, Addition Hess Lower grades
Zolowtow, Charlotte (Shapiro) One Step, Two 1955. Counting Hess Lower grades
Zolowtow, Charlotte (Shapiro) The True-To-Life ABC Book, Including Numbers. 1952. Counting Hess Lower grades

Note: Author, Title, Date, and Recommended Age/Grade reported from the source. Categories are sometimes suggested from the source but I assigned categories to most of the books based on the source’s annotation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s