The theme here is fun math books. Thus, if a book says something like “this is a division sign,” you will not find the book on this list. These books get kids thinking about numbers and problem solving in neat ways without realizing that they are learning math.
Quack and Count by Keith Baker. A beautifully-illustrated, rhyming counting book. Seven ducks are shown in a variety of configurations: 7 and 0, 6 and 1, 5 and 2, etc. Kids will not realize that they are learning to add. Ages 2+ (counting, addition)
Measuring Penny by Loreen Leedy. My four-year-old daughter has really gotten excited about this book. We have a hard time finishing it before she runs off and starts measuring things. Measuring Penny introduces kids to the various ways things can be measured (e.g. length, weight, volume, etc.) and to measuring with both standard and nonstandard units. See also How Big is a Foot? by Rolf Myller, a story that illustrates the importance of establishing a standard unit to measure with. Ages 3+ (measuring)
Each Orange Had 8 Slices: A Counting Book by Paul Giganti, Jr. and Donald Crews. I credit this book with helping my son learn to think about numbers creatively and solve multiplication problems. Each Orange Had 8 Slices is a counting book with a new scene and thought-provoking questions on each page. Here is an example: “On my way to school I saw 3 kids. Each kid rode a tricycle. Each tricycle had 3 wheels. How many little kids were there? How many tricycles were there? How many wheels were there in all?” Ages 4+ (counting, addition, multiplication)
The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins. In The Doorbell Rang, a plate of chocolate chip cookies must be divided among an increasing number of guests. This book leads naturally to discussions of dividing up things encountered in real life (e.g. a set of toy cars among three kids). Ages 4+ (division)
One Is a Snail Ten Is a Crab by April Pulley Sayre, Jeff Sayre, and Randy Cecil. I love this book! It is both amusing and educational to think about counting in terms of animals with various numbers of feet. E.g. “5 is a dog [with 4 feet] and a snail [with 1 foot].” One Is a Snail Ten Is a Crab is valuable for teaching kids addition and multiplication. While the book’s final pages depict challenging math problems, this book can be enjoyed by young children who are just learning to count to ten. Ages 4+ (counting, addition, multiplication)
Only One by Marc Harshman and Barbara Garrison. Only One is a calming bedtime book that introduces kids to various units. (e.g. Twelve eggs equals one dozen. Ten cents equals one dime.) Barbara Garrison’s folk art illustrations are lovely. More Than One by Miriam Schlein and Donald Crews is another fine book that introduces kids to the same concept, with different examples. Ages 4+ (units)
Fraction Action by Loreen Leedy. A very accessible introduction to fractions, presented in five parts. In Fraction Action, teacher Miss Prime teachers her kids about fractions. On day one, she asks her kids to visualize dividing whole objects into halves, thirds, and fourths. On day two, she teaches kids about dividing sets of objects into halves, thirds, and fourths. On days three and four, Miss Prime shares two stories: one about dividing fruit equally among four friends and another about subtracting fractions from a dollar. On day five, the kids quiz Miss Prime. Ages 5+ (fractions)
Lemonade for Sale by Stuart Murphy and Tricia Tusa. In Lemonade for Sale, a group of friends sell lemonade to earn money to fix their clubhouse. The friends create a bar graph to monitor their sales. The bar graph does not interrupt the story. Tricia Tusa’s illustrations are full of energy. Ages 5+ (graphing)
A Million Dots by Andrew Clements and Mike Reed. Kids are often fascinated by very large numbers that seem too large to comprehend. A Million Dots gives kids a sense of how big a million really is. Highlights include Andrew Clement’s humor and Mike Reed’s graphic illustrations. For kids who may be intimidated by the fact-heavy A Million Dots, try How Much is a Million? by David Schwartz and Steven Kellogg. Ages 6+ (very large numbers)
Fun with Roman Numerals by David Adler and Edward Miller III. Learning about roman numerals is like learning to decipher a secret code. Once kids have been introduced to roman numerals, they will spot them everywhere. Ages 6+ (roman numerals)
A fantastic resource:
As Easy as Pi: Picture books are perfect for teaching math by Marilyn Burns. Lesson plans for teachers interested in using picture books to help teach math concepts.