I love using living books to help children “see” math. These math operations picture books specifically focus on addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to help build understanding and connect math to the real world.
Books are powerful in helping children relate to abstract mathematical concepts! They can be used as pre-reading before introducing something new or after a concept is mastered to help connect it to math in the real world. One of the best ways to use them, though, is when you run into a problem. Living math books have a special way of gently explaining math concepts through story and pictures that can help a tough concept to finally click.
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Math Operations Picture Books
This giant list is full of math operations picture books. That means you’ll find books that help with the foundational operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division that are absolutely required in order to move into higher level math.
Whether you have a kiddo struggling to understand math or not, include as many of these as you can during the critical times of learning. Every opportunity to solidify and expand learning will be helpful to your children!
Addition and Subtraction Picture Books
I love how each of these books uniquely introduces or explains addition and subtraction concepts to children. Clearly, not all of them are living books in the sense that I usually talk about living books around here, but they are worthwhile if they serve the purpose of helping children to understand math.
Some of them teach using items that you likely have in your home or could easily grab at the grocery store, like a Hershey’s chocolate bar, jelly beans, or coins. When a book uses real life objects to teach, I like to read the book straight through with my children once and then go back and reread it while we use candy bars, jelly beans, or coins to join along. Kids often learn by doing, and what better way to learn about math than with candy!
Along with addition and subtraction, you’ll find books that help with place value, doubling, the concept of more and less, and general understanding of numeration.
- A Place for Zero by Angeline Sparagna LoPresti
- Place Value by David Adler
- Sir Cumference and All the King’s Tens by Cindy Neuschwander
- Sir Cumference and the Roundabout Battle by Cindy Neuschwander (rounding)
- Sir Cumference Gets Decima’s Point by Cindy Neuschwander
- The Blast Off Kid by Laura Driscoll
- The King’s Commissioners by Marilyn Burns
- 12 Ways to Get to 11 by Eve Merriam
- A Collection for Kate by Barbara deRubertis
- Domino Addition by Lynette Long
- Double the Ducks by Stuart Murphy
- Hershey’s Kisses Addition Book by Jerry Pallotta
- If You Were a Plus Sign by Trisha Sue Speed Shaskan
- Mall Mania by Stuart Murphy
- Mission Addition by Loreen Leedy
- Monster Math Picnic by Grace Maccarone
- Pigs Will Be Pigs by Amy Axelrod
- Ready, Set, Hop by Stuart Murphy
- Safari Park by Stuart Murphy
- Sea Sums by Joy Hulme
- The Grapes of Math by Greg Tang
- The Mission of Addition by Brian P. Cleary
- Two Ways to Count To Ten by Ruby Dee
- Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst
- Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
- Elevator Magic by Stuart Murphy
- Hershey’s Kisses Subtraction Book by Jerry Pallotta
- If You Were a Minus Sign by Trisha Sue Speed Shaskan
- Shark Swimathon by Stuart Murphy
- The Good Neighbor’s Cheese Feast by Mark Ramsay
- Ten Sly Piranhas by William Wise
- The Action of Subtraction by Brian P. Cleary
- Twenty is Too Many by Kate Duke
Multiplication and Division Picture Books
Multiplication and division don’t have to be tricky! These stories that are intriguing and easy to follow can go a long way in helping both to make sense to children. In this group are some of my very favorite living math books of all times!
Again, if you have the opportunity to read and then reread using objects mentioned in a book to work out the concepts, that’s a great idea. If I’m going to do that, I often read the book one day and grab the hands-on goodies for the reread another day. The goal with using books for math is for gentle learning so that your students can work out the concepts of the story in their own minds for a little while.
- 2×2=Boo! by Loreen Leedy
- 98, 99, 100! Ready or Not, Here I Come! by Teddy Slater
- One Hundred Ways To Get to 100 by Jerry Pallotta
- Amanda Bean’s Amazing Dream by Cindy Neuschwander
- Anno’s Mysterious Multiplying Jar by Mitsumasa Anno
- Anno’s Magic Seeds by Mitsumasa Anno
- Arctic Fives Arrive by Elinor J. Pinczes
- Bats on Parade by Kathi Appelt
- Bunches and Bunches of Bunnies by Louise Mathews
- Each Orange Had 8 Slices by Paul Giganti Jr.
- Just Add Fun! by Joanne Rocklin
- Leaping Lizards by Stuart Murphy
- Math Potatoes by Greg Tang
- Multiplying Menace: Revenge of Rumpelstiltskin by Pam Calvert
- One Grain of Rice by Demi
- Sea Squares by Joy Hulme
- Spunky Monkeys on Parade by Stuart Murphy
- Stacks of Trouble by Martha Brenner
- The Emperor’s Army by Virginia Pilegard
- The King’s Chessboard by David Burch
- Too Many Cooks by Andrea Buckless
- Too Many Kangaroo Things To Do by Stuart Murphy
- Two of Everything by Lily Toy Hong
- A Fair Bear Share by Stuart Murphy
- Bean Thirteen by Matthew McElligott
- Divide and Ride by Stuart J. Murphy
- Everybody Wins! by Sheila Bruce
- One Hundred Hungry Ants by Elinor J Pinczes
- One Hungry Cat by Joanne Rocklin
- Spaghetti and Meatballs for All by Marilyn Burns
- The 512 Ants on Sullivan Street by Carol Losi
- The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins
- The Great Divide by Dayle Ann Dodds
- The Lion’s Share by Matthew McElligott
- The Multiplying Menace Divides by Pam Calvert
Enjoy Teaching Math
I hope these books show you that teaching math can be fun! If your kiddos are struggling with a certain concept, pull out one of these books. Often children (and adults) need to see a different perspective in order to solve tough problems. It’s such and easy way to reinforce foundational math concepts. Living math books can bring a breath of fresh air into your homeschool. Enjoy!
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