Using Stories to Teach Math Concepts

Anyone who knows me – even casually – knows that I love books. I mean, I really love books. Growing up, I was not a big fan of math. Luckily, the Montessori training changed all that, but I still like using storybooks to teach math concepts. I think they work really well in a classroom, and can provide a boost for children (like I was) who aren’t naturally gifted in math. The more learning styles you cover, the greater the chance of success for everyone!

All of these books are all available through Amazon or other retailers; a quick Google search should turn up many options (including other books by the same authors). I’ve categorized them loosely, but due to the nature of the stories, they can probably move up or down age-wise based on the child’s interests. Most of the books in the 6-9 category, for instance, could overlap with 9-12.

For Preschool (3-6):


Inch by Inch
by Leo Lionni

Busy Bugs: A Book About Patterns
by Jayne Harvey

Counting Caterpillars and Other Math Poems by Betsy Franco

The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns

The Go-Around Dollar by Barbara Johnston Adams

For Lower Elementary (6-9):

The Coin Counting Book by Rozanne Lanczak Williams

Can You Count to a Googol? by Robert E. Wells

The Great Graph Contest by Loreen Leedy

How Much is a Million?, Millions to Measure and If You Made a Million by David M. Schwartz & Steven Kellogg

Apple Fractions, Count to a Million, and One Hundred Ways to Get to 100 by Jerry Pallotta & Rob Bolster

The Count Your Way through… Series (11 different countries) by Jim Haskins

The Grapes of Math by Gregory Tang

For Elementary (9-12):

The Sir Cumference Series and Mummy Math: An Adventure in Geometry by Cindy Neuschwander

What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras? A Math Adventure
by Julie Ellis

The Great Number Rumble: A Story of Math in Surprising Places
by Cora Lee

Fractals, Googols, and Other Mathematical Tales and The Adventures of Penrose the Mathematical Cat by Theoni Pappas

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5 Responses to “Using Stories to Teach Math Concepts”

  • Tracy said at September 2nd, 2007 at 8:28 pm :

    We love all of these, and here’s one of our favourites: One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale by Demi. My daughters were amazed by that one!

    One I really liked because it’s so “real world” in its scope is A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper, by John Allen Paulos.

    I’m still working at undoing a lifetime of feeling like a number bumbler, but I’m getting there and I’m making sure my girls never feel that way!

  • montessori_lori said at September 2nd, 2007 at 8:32 pm :

    I know how you feel – I am so glad that my kids like math! I hope that continues throughout their lives. I wish I had enjoyed math more as a child.

  • Anthony Cartmell said at December 22nd, 2008 at 3:03 pm :

    A series of stories with mathematical content suitable for children aged from around four to seven can be found at http://www.numberlinelane.co.uk. Each story has large colourful illustrations, featuring the characters who live in Numberline Lane, and each covers part of the early years mathematics curriculum.

  • Christi Sewell said at April 3rd, 2009 at 10:22 pm :

    There is a wonderful website (I am not affiliated with this website in anyway. I am just an admirer.) that promotes the use of literature with math. The site includes an amazing and comprehensive list of books by subject matter and interest level. I highly recommend it: livingmath.net. I think it is right inline with this topic too.

  • The Shape of Geometry in Montessori from Montessori for Everyone said at February 21st, 2010 at 10:52 pm :

    […] fan of using books to teach these sorts of concepts; you’ll find a few geometry titles listed here under the 9-12 age […]