Living math is wonderful, especially the kind that involves living literature. So many people think math and literature connections only make sense for the elementary years, but middle school students still benefit very much from the connection! This list of living books for middle school math is perfect for making those connections and bringing some excitement and pleasure to math time.
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Living Books for Middle School Math
The Phantom Tollbooth is rich in imagination and character development, not to mention math concepts. Ratio, proportion, averages, measurement, estimation, geometry, and more are seamlessly woven throughout the storyline.
Math Curse is a goofy picture book that can be read in one sitting. Each page offers great opportunities for various math explorations like problem-solving, averages, percent, volume, sequencing, permutations, and more. Children who are less than enthusiastic about math might find the book somewhat painless.
Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone is just one of an entire series of Sir Cumference math stories. While some of the books are appropriate for older elementary, many of them cover more in-depth middle school topics – like finding the volume of cones or the area of circles. This series is a top favorite!
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes is mostly historical fiction with a geometry twist. It takes place in Japan after the bombing of Hiroshima. After wiping the tears away, have some fun with this origami lesson.
Counting On Frank is somewhat similar to Math Curse (above), with a character who is a little more thoughtful about math. Everything he thinks about seems to go through a math funnel. It’s especially good for showing the real-life side of math. Find several activity suggestions to go along with the book here.
One Grain Of Rice is a favorite multicultural tale with a wonderful moral at the end. The book teaches the power of doubling painlessly, as well as covering large place values. Enjoy this lesson after reading the book.
Holes was a book I was skeptical about allowing my children to read at first. I had the impression it handled issues that were too big, but I felt more comfortable after previewing it. It has since become one of Caleb’s very favorite books ever (and that’s saying a lot since very few books even make the “it was okay” list.) Many math lessons can be drawn from this book including percentages, ratios, proportions, and more.
A Million Fish…More or Less is a book that I disliked the first time I read it. The tall tales seemed silly and hard for children to grasp. However, looking at the book from the perspective of math potential for older children, it earned a spot in my top 10! Set in Louisiana and using the traditional Bayou language, the characters’ tales about events tend to grow. Here is an article that talks about using estimation with kids.
Gulliver’s Travels is a classic tale about a shipwrecked English surgeon who finds himself held captive by a group of little people, among other sea adventures. Lessons on ratio, proportion, and measurement can be easily tied into the book. Here are a few math activity ideas that go along with the book.
Chasing Vermeer is an art mystery that covers all sorts of mathematical concepts like patterns, symmetry, shapes, Roman numerals, and more. There’s even a bit of math history thrown in! Please be aware that the Lord’s name is taken in vain in this book.
Living Math Book and Activity Ideas for You
Learn More About Living Math
The possibilities of living math in homeschooling are endless. Loving Living Math (a how-to guide) and Living Math (a video training) share encouraging ideas to practically incorporate powerful activities. There are so many benefits to living math and these must-have resources help you get started!