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Books that support numeracy

Language: English
Genre: Maths
Topics: Bookbug
A pile of foam cut out numbers

There are so many ways to bring numbers to life for little ones. Sharing stories, songs and rhymes that feature counting or other mathematical concepts can help to lay the foundations of numeracy  - and it's never too early to start! Here is a selection of new and classic stories that explore numbers in very different ways.

Pat Hutchins Rosie's Walk

This is a wonderful book for introducing the concept of positional language – or words that show or tell us where things are. Rosie's walk takes her over the haystack, around the pond and under the beehives, helping children make the connection between these directional words and the corresponding illustration on the page. And of course they'll love to see the fate of poor fox on every page!

Jean Marzollo I Spy Numbers

This multi-layered, interactive book for little ones is a real treasure. It's a great aid for helping children understand the cardinal meaning of number symbols (e.g. that 4 corresponds to four things) with a mix of household items, toys and brightly coloured objects to spot and count on every page. This is a wonderful book to return to again and again as a child's numerical understanding grows.

Lauren Child One Thing

This unique exploration of numbers and sums by Charlie and Lola is perfect for young school children. It cleverly addresses concepts of addition and subtraction in a humorous way, reassuring little ones that working with numbers is a tricky business. The interweaving of number symbols on every page helps to reinforce connections between the symbol and the actual number of things mentioned in the text – an important feature of numeracy development. A smart book that reminds all of us that numeracy is key to many aspects of everyday life.

Anna Milbourne Serena Riglietti How Big is a Million?

If you know a wee one who is less interested in 1, 2, 3 and more focused on bigger numbers, then this sweet story about a penguin on a mission to find a million might hit the spot. Little penguin is able to quantify tens, hundreds and thousands, but it's not until the final page that he finally gets to understand what a million actually looks like. The narrative may be less compelling than you will find in other stories, but it definitely brings the concept of large numbers to life.

John Burningham Mr Gumpy's Outing

Although numbers are not actually mentioned in the much-loved story of Mr Gumpy and his boat outing on the river, mathematical concepts are definitely at play. As the number of animals and children who wish to join him increases, so too does the weight of the boat. Can they predict how many animals it will take before finally capsizing? A simple, smart way to introduce numeracy, and adorable Burningham illustrations too.

Oliver Jeffers The Hueys in None the Number

If you like your counting books a little on the quirky side, then this charming exploration of numbers is for you. Little ones get to count hats, fishermen and oranges balanced on random objects, but they also get to explore the idea of 'none' as a number ('one less than one'). This is a book full of humour, with small details to talk about on each page. Definitely one that lends itself to more than one reading.

Jim Field Kes Gray How Many Legs?

This zany counting book lends itself perfectly to being read aloud to groups of pre-schoolers. The mathematical approaches such as addition and multiplication are explicit, but little ones will be having so much fun following the antics taking place on the page, as well as enjoying the masterful use of rhyme, they won't even realise that they're developing their numeracy skills.

Eric Carle The Very Hungry Caterpillar

It's very easy to forget that this classic story includes an element of counting – one apple, two pears, three plums! Just as the number of foods gets bigger, so too do the flaps of the pages (and the caterpillar itself at the end of the story), a great resource to illustrate concepts of addition and 'bigger than'.

Mike Brownlow Simon Rickerty 10 Little Monsters

There are lots of brilliant titles in the '10 Little' series and they're all similar in format - the perfect blend of counting element and rhyming story. They're a great resource for parents, carers and early years workers helping to lay down the foundations of numeracy, with opportunities to count backwards from ten (as well as forwards) as characters disappear then reappear. The illustrations are colourful and lively, really helping to bring the maths to life!

Julia Donaldson Nick Sharratt One Mole Digging a Hole

We were delighted to include this colourful counting book in one of our Bookbug bags because it's just so much fun! The animals are full of character, the rhyme is absolutely spot on and the opportunities for children to spot and count on every page are endless. A wonderful, whacky, introduction to numbers for toddlers.

Alice Brière-Haquet Olivier Philipponneau Raphaële Enjary One Very Big Bear

'I'm very big' booms polar bear in the opening to this maths-based picture book. But it's not long before a host of savvy sea creatures make him realise that their combined size can equal his. The concept – and the illustrations – are laid out with simplicity in this delightfully graphic book. Watch out for the surprise ending, too!

Mick Inkpen The Great Pet Sale

Like all of Inkpen's stories, this book about a pet shop sale is full of humour and loveable characters. A young boy is faced with a weighty decision – which pet creature to take home from the sale? Each pet comes with its own price tag (and issues) which makes this the ideal book to help school children grasp the concept of money in a fun, accessible way.

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