Nov. 30: “Why Pi?”

I’m concluding our math Picture Book Month celebration with a book that every student should have on their holiday list this year. The book is called Why Pi?

Why Pi?, by Johnny Ball, is a journey throughout time explaining how math is involved in our history. From the phases of the moon to the construction of the Egyptian pyramids, this book illustrates how math naturally impacts the world around us, and how humans use math to impact our world. I love everything about this book from the title to the information-packed, illustrated pages. If your students ever ask “why” something math-related exists, simply hand them this book!

I have thoroughly enjoyed writing my Picture Book Month blogs, and I hope you have enjoyed reading them, too. Picture books may not be intended for everyone, but all ages appreciate having fun once in awhile, especially in a math class; so keep these books handy and break them out once in awhile…you know, for the students. 😉

Ball, Johnny. Why Pi? DK Children. 2009.


Nov. 29: “Twizzlers Percentages Book”

Today’s post is dedicated to my wonderful husband, a Twizzler enthusiast.

Jerry Palotta did a great thing when he wrote his many candy-themed math picture books. He gave teachers and students an excuse to bring candy into the classroom. Not only that, but he created a excitingly tangible way for students to learn about addition, multiplication, fractions, decimals, and in this case, percents.

I have used Palotta’s books in my classroom, and I must say that his books are always a hit with my students, especially his Twizzlers Percentages Book. While drooling over the yummy strawberry candy that we’re about to eat, we discuss key terms and definitions that the book includes: percentage, numerator, denominator, equals and multiply. This book clearly demonstrates the conversion of decimals to percentages and vice-versa. Then, we use our Twizzlers as math manipulatives, demonstrating different percentages of one whole, or 100 percent. After our lesson, we gobble up our manipulatives, enjoying every sugary bite.

If you want a great anticipatory set for your percentages – or decimals – math unit, I highly recommend Jerry Palotta’s books!

Palotta, Jerry. Twizzlers Percentages Book. Illustrated by Rob Bolster. Scholastic Publishing, Inc. 2001.

Nov. 28: A Very Improbable Story

Since yesterday’s Picture Book Month post was fairly long-winded, today’s Picture Book Month celebration is going to be short-n-sweet.

I love the cover of this book!

Today’s book is a fun one! A Very Improbable Story: A Math Adventure by Edward Einhorn is about a boy named Ethan and a very distracting cat who wakes up with him one morning. He thinks nothing of it because he is used to waking up to his pet cat sleeping soundly on his head. However, this cat is no ordinary cat: he talks! And the only way Ethan can get rid of him, is to win the “games of probability.”

This book reminds me of Jon Scieszka’s Math Curse in a way because it takes everyday things – such as choosing which clothes to wear, eating cereal for breakfast, and playing extra-curricular sports – and shows the math (in this case, the probability) behind everything we do!

Great, great book for introducing probability, and awesome illustrations by Adam Gustavson. I can’t wait to add this book to my own personal math picture book library!

Einhorn, Edward. A Very Improbable Story: A Math Adventure. Illustrations by Adam Gustavson. Charlesbridge Publishing. 2008.

Nov. 21-23: Thanksgiving Counting Books

Happy Thanksgiving! No need to expect a blog from me the rest of this week; I will be traveling over a river and through the woods to Granny’s house! Instead of being glued to social media on our phones or computers, I hope that you join me in focusing on giving thanks and spending quality time with family or friends.

I have three picture books to celebrate with you today and each book has a little Thanksgiving flavor, if you know what I mean. Funnily enough, each book is a counting book perfect for pre-K ages.

The first delightful picture book is titled 10 Fat Turkeys. 10 Fat Turkeys, written by Tony Johnston and illustrated by Rich Deas, starts off with 10 happy, dancing turkeys on a fence. But, sure enough, one by one they fall off due to their “silly antics.” This cute, cute book teaches counting (backwards) and subtraction.


Break out your imagination hats for the second picture book! This next celebrated book has half as many turkeys as the first one, but they are definitely twice as silly! Five Silly Turkeys by Salina Yoon is an adorable counting book. These turkeys are the essence of silliness: tanning on the beach, dancing, etc. The best part of this book is its unique shape and the use of texture to keep little ones engaged (the turkey’s feathers are made out of a shiny fabric).

The third, and final, Thanksgiving math picture book that I would love to share with you is One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims. This book, written by B.G. Hennessy, counts ten little Pilgrims and ten little Wampanoag boys and girls as they prepare for a Thanksgiving feast! Kids will love the rhyming and rhythm used as they count the little boys and girls throughout the book.

Johnston, Tony. 10 Fat Turkeys. Illustrated by Rich Deas. Scholastic Inc. 2004.

Hennessy, B.G. One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims. Illustrated by Lynne Avril Cravath. Puffin. 2001.

Yoon, Salina. Five Silly Turkeys. Penguin Group (USA). 2005.

Nov. 20: “Pigs Will Be Pigs”

I found the ultimate books for That Math Lady. Anyone who knows me well understands (i.e. tolerates) my love for pigs, especially tea cup pigs and micro mini pigs. Well, I found a great picture book about pigs and math! I can’t think of a better combination!

In Pigs Will Be Pigs: Fun with Math and Money by Amy Axelrod, the Pig family needs to find money to go out to dinner.  So they start off on a hunt around the Pig home to find any spare change possible. Mr. Pig searches his wallet and toolbox while Mrs. Pig looks for loose change in the laundry room. The piglets were also successful in finding a few coins in their closets, too. How much did they find and will it be enough to buy food? That is for the young reader to determine as they help the Pig family count their money!

Young readers can probably relate to the pig family. You can begin a lesson asking students if they have ever searched for – or unexpectedly found – money around their home. If so, where?  What did they do with their new fortune? And how much money would they need to find to eat out at their favorite restaurant?

If you love this book, you’ll love Axelrod’s other Pigs and Math series: Pigs On a Blanket: Fun with Math and TimePigs in the Pantry: Fun with Math and Cooking, and Pigs Go to Market: Fun with Math and Shopping!

Axelrod, Amy. Pigs Will Be Pigs: Fun with Math and Money. Illustrated by Sharon McGinley-Nally. Aladdin. 1997.

Nov. 17: “Math Potatoes”

Yesterday’s Picture Book Month math blog celebrated Greg Tang‘s Math Appeal. Well, today’s blog is about another winner from Tang, Math Potatoes. (I thought of this book as I was preparing dinner last night…chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy. Yum!)

I highly recommend all of Tang’s books for a number of reasons. First, each page is bursting with bright colors and fun illustrations. Next, Tang uses the art of poetry to introduce each problem. This makes the dreaded process of reading a word problem less drab and dry. Also, the solutions to each problem are listed – and thoroughly explained – in the back of each picture book. And although Tang suggests these books for children ages 7 – 10 and grades 3 – 5, I think these books can be appreciated by a much greater range of ages.

Just like Tang’s other books that I’ve previewed and blogged about, Math Potatoes does an excellent job of setting up a variety of problems and encourages students to think creatively to problem solve. Tang encourages creative thinking, but also stresses the importance of grouping numbers to make complex problems feel simple to solve.

Tang, Greg. Math Potatoes. Illustrated by Harry Briggs. Scholastic Press, New York. 2005.

Nov. 16: “Math Appeal”

Today’s Picture Book Month post is dedicated to First Book. First Book just celebrated its 100-millionth book donation to children in need. I am so moved by their efforts and passion to end illiteracy. In fact, to help support their mission, That Math Lady is donating $50 for every 100 Likes we get on our Facebook page by December 1st! Let’s help give the gift of reading this holiday season!

Speaking of reading, I have another FABULOUS math picture book to share with you! Today’s book, Math Appeal, was written by Greg Tang and illustrated by Harry Briggs. (This ingenious author/illustrator team also wrote one of the books I celebrated earlier this month, The Grapes of Math. Tang also wrote Math-terpieces.)  Each page in this book poses a poetic, mathematical riddle that is brought to life with bright and crisp illustrations. All I can say is that Math Appeal is definitely appealing to teachers and students because of its imagination and creativity!

I would recommend this book for grades 1-3 since most of the riddles are additive or multiplicative in nature. And, as always, Tang has included the answers and solutions to the riddles in the back of the book. 🙂

For more information on Picture Book Month, visit or follow them on Twitter, @picturebookmonth.

Tang, Greg. Math Appeal. Illustrated by Harry Briggs. Scholastic Press, New York. 2003.