Opening the Door for Mathematics Collaboration

Vandenbroek, Alicia. 2014. “Opening the Door for Mathematics Collaboration.” Library Media Connection 32 (6): 26–27.


In place of concrete examples of collaboration, the author (a middle school librarian) points out that the level of collaboration between teachers and the librarian will be different at each school, and suggests starting with a small project rather than a large one. Vandenbroek offers a three part process: demonstrate how you are a resource, then show how you are a partner, and then collaborate. She suggests ways to demonstrate how you are a resource: teach lesson plans that incorporate math vocabulary, collect and share math and logic games in the library, and make a math bibliography. In my experience, this outlook is a realistic and helpful approach. Many teachers will be resistant to “collaboration” (as this does take time on their part, and they are very busy), but will welcome a librarian as a resource. From there, some teachers will see how helpful the librarian is and will be willing to collaborate.

Mathematics in the K-8 Classroom and Library

McKinney, Sueanne and KaaVonia Hinton. 2010. Mathematics in the K-8 Classroom and Library. Santa Barbara, CA: Linworth.

Authors Sueanne E. McKinney and Kaavonia Hinton are both assistant professors at Old Dominion University in STEM Education and Professional Studies and the Darden College of Education, respectively. Their book describes how school librarians can integrate literature into math in order to support students develop a “conceptual understanding of math.” The book is a great resource to help a school librarian use the books already in the library for math lessons. A school librarian could build connections with teachers by sharing selected books and lessons with them, or offering to teach the lesson in the library. The authors also offer suggestions for how to use any book in a math lesson. Another important area that gets good coverage is how school librarians can collaborate with math teachers.

Below is a list of the mathematical topics and the children’s books which are covered in McKinney and Hinton’s book. These book titles have detailed notes or lesson ideas in the “Using Mathematics Literature” sections of each Chapter. This list will help a school librarian decide if purchasing the book will help them make more use of their existing collection. McKinney and Hinton’s book typically contains a page describing several activities for each of these titles.

Numbers and Operations

  • A Creepy Countdown
  • Fish Eyes: A Book You Can Count On
  • One Less Fish
  • The M&M’s Count to One Hundred Book
  • Dreaming: A Countdown to Sleep

Addition and Subtraction

  • How the Second Grade Got $8,205.50 to Visit the Statue of Liberty
  • The Grapes of Math
  • How Many Feet in the Bed?
  • The Hershey’s Kisses Subtraction Book
  • Subtraction Action

Multiplication and Division

  • One Hundred Hungry Ants
  • Amanda Bean’s Amazing Dream
  • A Remainder of One
  • 2×2 = Boo
  • Spaghetti and Meatballs for All!


  • The Wishing Club
  • Full House: An Invitation to Fractions
  • Piece = Part = Portion
  • The Doorbell Rang
  • Centipede’s 100 Shoes


  • The King’s Chessboard
  • The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure
  • The Adventures of Penrose the Mathematical Cat
  • Math Curse
  • Fractals, Googles and Other Mathematical Tales


  • Sir Cumference and the First Round Table
  • Grandfather Tang’s Story
  • The Greedy Triangle
  • Draw Me a Star
  • Mummy Math: An Adventure in Geometry


  • Twelve Snails to One Lizard: A Tale of Mischief and Measurement
  • How Tall, How Short, How Faraway
  • Clocks and More Clocks
  • Millions to Measure
  • Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday

Data Analysis and Probability

  • Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
  • Tricking the Tallyman
  • If the World Were a Village
  • Lemonade for Sale
  • Do You Wanna Bet?

“Any Literary Selection Can Be a Mathematics Selection”

  • A Perfect Snowman
  • Beetle McGrady Eats Bugs
  • Olivia … and the Missing Toy
  • Swamp Angel
  • Chicken Soup

Check Out the Math: One Elementary School’s Library-Based Math Program

Lambert, Nancy Jo. 2013. “Check Out the Math: One Elementary School’s Library-Based Math Program.” School Library Journal. September 12.

A school librarian created a new statistics word problem each month, posted it in the library, and invited students to participate. The word problems were all based on real library statistics: how many books were overdue, number of bookshelves needed. In many elementary schools, all classes visit the library every week or every other week. This is a great way to show students how math is connected with everyday life, participate and discuss problem-solving together.

Lesson Overview

Students are invited to participate in an optional activity in the library, where they respond to a statistics question that changes each month. The questions address solving real questions or problems in the school’s library. Students must write out their problem-solving technique. Students with the correct answer may receive a library-related benefit, like an extra check out.

Lesson Goals:

  • Students can apply different strategies to solve statistics word problems.

Lesson Plan Materials

  • Create statistics word problems using your library’s real statistics and problems, and consult with your teachers to have them provide you with feedback about the questions and possible solutions.

Common Core State Standards this Lesson Supports

  • CCSS.Math.Practice.MP1 Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  • CCSS.Math.Practice.MP2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively.

AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner

  • AASL 2.1.3 Use strategies to draw conclusions from information and apply knowledge to curricular areas, real-world situations, and further investigations.