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Books that support numeracy
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.
Miguel Tanco Count on Me
This gorgeous picture book celebrates individuality and finding your passion in life. A little girl watches as everyone around her finds their calling, but hers is a little different – because she really likes maths! Her unique perspective helps her to see all sorts of beauty in the world, and though others might not see the world in the same way as her, that’s okay. By sharing this story together, your little ones might start to see the shapes and numbers that are all around us, even just in the everyday things.
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.
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!
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'.
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.
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.
Kevin Jenner We Are The Shapes
Squares don't like things to be different. And triangles think different is fun. Cue lots of fights about anything and everything! When circles try to intervene, things don't always quite go to plan. . . But circles are good at turning things around! This super cute picture book teaches wee ones the basics about shapes with a fun lesson about finding ways to compromise.
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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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.
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!
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.
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!
Jon Klassen Mac Barnet Triangle
The first in the Shape Trilogy (Square and Circle come next), this quirky story about a mischievous triangle who sets out to play a trick on his friend Square is a joy. Not only does it explore early concepts of shape, size and pattern, but the use of positional language in all three books also supports developing numeracy skills. Stylish, pared down illustrations add to the subtle humour and allows little ones the opportunity to anticipate what's coming for themselves.
Kate Read One Fox: A Counting Book Thriller
What a clever take on a counting book! A simple 1 to 10 is brought to life with the help of a suspenseful farmyard plot - children won't even realise that they're learning their numbers as they enjoy this gripping tale of one hungry fox and his attempts to catch a plump hen for tea. The use of collage and paint in the illustrations is stunning, and there are different items to count on each page too. Counting has never been so dramatic!