31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Ten – 2017 Math Picture Books

It’s almost unfair that I’m not including math for older readers on today’s list, but for that I think you’ll be best suited turning to the awesome Mathical Awards, given out each year. The Mathical Book Prize (given by a committee of math teachers, working mathematicians, and the occasional librarian like me) celebrates math in […]


It’s almost unfair that I’m not including math for older readers on today’s list, but for that I think you’ll be best suited turning to the awesome Mathical Awards, given out each year. The Mathical Book Prize (given by a committee of math teachers, working mathematicians, and the occasional librarian like me) celebrates math in books for children of all ages. Like what you see on today’s list? You can get a lot more suggestions from people who actually know their stuff at the Mathical site.

And so, with the given understanding that I’m no math whiz myself, but have an appreciation of how folks best integrate math and storytelling . . .


2017 Math Picture Books

Counting Books

Counting Colorful Shapes: Art Deco Style by Isabel Hill


Admittedly this could just as easily go in the “Shapes” category as the “Counting” one, but for the sake of argument we’ll leave it here. Attractive architectural design isn’t usually something kids care about. Shapes in everyday life? A different story. Throw in some counting as well and you’ve got yourself a math book, you do.

Counting With Tiny Cat by Viviane Schwarz


I’m such a sucker for a Viviane Schwarz book. There’s something about her cuddly not cutesy style that really appeals to me. Plus, who can resist a tiny cat? You? You? You? Thought not.

Dance Party Countdown by Eric Litwin, ill. Tom Lichtenheld


Though I doubt he needs the publicity, Mr. Litwin brings us a counting book that’s also tailor made for storytimes. If you happen to be doing a math-centric storytime (a more common occurrence in this STEM-filled world in which we live) this will probably become your best friend.

A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars by Seth Fishman, ill. Isabel Greenberg


I like books that shoot for the moon (so to speak). And books that try to wrap children’s brains around large numbers definitely fall into that category. This reminds me a bit of How Many Jelly Beans? but has that extra added little level of science, to make it applicable to either math or astronomy lessons.

Grandma’s Tiny House: A Counting Story by JaNay Brown-Wood, ill. Priscilla Burris


This already showed up once as one of my favorite rhyming books on the year. It’s also one of my favorite counting stories, too. Particularly when you begin to wrap your mind around the sheer number of relatives coming by. This of it as a kind of 21st century version of the old nursery rhyme “As I Was Going to St. Ives”.

The Pickwicks’ Picnic: A Counting Adventure by Carol Brendler, ill. Renee Kurilla


Dogs. In cars. Stuck in traffic. With counting. If I have to sell it to you on more than that then you have no soul.

Sheep Won’t Sleep: Counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s by Judy Cox, ill. Nina Cuneo


Oo! Ambitious! Books that try to count by 2’s or 5’s or 10’s are impressive. Books that try to count by all of those numbers even more so. I’ve seen many a counting-sleep-to-sleep storyline in my day, but never something quite as keen to pack in the creative counting as this.

Stack the Cats by Susie Ghahremani


Well. I hope I don’t have to tell you how much I still love and adore this book above and beyond its fellows. It’s something to do with the writing, and something to do with the math, and something to do with the art (which is magnificent, you must admit). I cannot get enough of this book. The fact that they just released it as a board book as well is gravy.

We Need More Nuts! by Jonathan Fenske


It took me an awfully long time to discover Fenske, in spite of the fact that he’s a Geisel Honor winner. This book takes an extreme look at counting and the force-feeding of squirrels. My sole regret is that these two guys aren’t chipmunks packing their cheeks. Has anyone ever done a picture book where a chipmunk goes around stuffing things into its face for safe keeping? Someone get on that.

Weights and Measures

Ants Rule: The Long and Short of It by Bob Barner


My kids once got a measuring game for Christmas that turned out to be one of the most successful of the year. Turns out, kids really like measure stuff sometimes! This book breaks down the process into simple explanations for very young math enthusiasts. Plus there are bugs. A nice plus.

Cao Chong Weighs an Elephant by Songju Ma Daemicke, ill. Christina Wald


I love it when I can include a book that undoubtedly hasn’t popped up on your radar. I would highly doubt that too many of you have heard of this book, and more’s the pity. Happily, Kirkus did review it and said it was, “Nicely produced and balanced in its instructive approach” and contained “well-defined activities for understanding buoyancy and scale measurement”. If you need a fable to explain how to demonstrate buoyancy and, better still, calculate it, look ye no further.

Money and Economics

Earn It! A Moneybunny Book by Cinders McLeod


I like any book that sets up a systematic system of keeping track of earnings.  It’s a fun financial literacy book. Kirkus got very depressed about it, lamenting that it didn’t talk about the joy of working for work’s sake. I’m okay with not including that particular detail in the narrative, honestly. It’s not as if we can all choose jobs that fulfill us all the time our entire lives.

Money Math: Addition and Subtraction by David A.Adler, ill. Edward Miller


I mean, it’s David A. Adler. The king of the math-related nonfiction these days. This particular book is fun and spells out math as it relates to our physical money is a really practical way. We desperately need more of these books in our libraries these days, so I’m happy to have it here.

Real World Applications

I Know Numbers! by Taro Gomi


Another Taro Gomi! And a funny one at that. When I say that the book talks about “real world applications” I mean that it isn’t just discussing numbers in a math concept but in our daily use as well. Kids see numbers everywhere every single day. This is a book that acknowledges their ubiquity with more than a dollop of humor.


Love Triangle by Marcie Colleen, ill. Bob Shea


Cheeky. Colleen isn’t afraid to fill this book with subtle math and geometry jokes, which I really like. But above and beyond that, I’ve actually never seen a picture book the old two-friends-are-joined-by-a-third-friend where both of the original friends prefer the newcomer. The name is no misnomer.

Round by Joyce Sidman, ill. Taeeun Yoo


Full credit to Minh Le and his fantastic Best Picture Books of 2017 piece on The Huffington Post for reminding me about this Sidman/Yoo collaboration. He put it under the “Best Concept Book” designation, while I’m concentrating a bit more on the inherent celebration of geometry. However you slice it, it’s a strong contender and a cool book. One that you should know.


Interested in the other lists of the month? Here’s the schedule so that you can keep checking back:

December 1 – Board Books

December 2 – Board Book Reprints & Adaptations

December 3 – Wordless Picture Books

December 4 – Picture Book Readalouds

December 5 – Rhyming Picture Books

December 6 – Alphabet Books

December 7 – Funny Picture Books

December 8 – CaldeNotts

December 9 – Picture Book Reprints

December 10 – Math Picture Books

December 11 – Bilingual Books

December 12 – International Imports

December 13 – Books with a Message

December 14 – Fabulous Photography

December 15 – Fairy Tales / Folktales

December 16 – Oddest Books of the Year

December 17 – Older Picture Books

December 18 – Easy Books

December 19 – Early Chapter Books

December 20 – Graphic Novels

December 21 – Poetry

December 22 – Fictionalized Nonfiction

December 23 – American History

December 24 – Science & Nature Books

December 25 – Transcendent Holiday Titles

December 26 – Unique Biographies

December 27 – Nonfiction Picture Books

December 28 – Nonfiction Chapter Books

December 29 – Novel Reprints

December 30 – Novels

December 31 – Picture Books


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