The Preparing Young Children for School Educator’s Practice Guide (Burchinal et al., 2022) identifies two evidence-based math recommendations:
- Provide intentional instruction to build children’s understanding of mathematical ideas and skills.
- Engage children in conversations about mathematical ideas and support them in using mathematical language.
Using children’s literature to mathematize is a method that can be used to carry out these recommended practices.
What is Mathematizing?
Children encounter many situations throughout the day that involve mathematics, such as playing games, enjoying snacks, and learning to share (Burchinal, et al., 2022). Because children are naturally curious mathematicians, they use mathematics to make sense of the world–or mathematize (Hintz and Smith, 2022). Mathematizing is a uniquely human process of constructing meaning in mathematics using the process of noticing, exploring, explaining, modeling, and convincing others of a mathematical argument (Morrow-Leong, et al., 2021).
Using Children’s Literature to Mathematize
Read-alouds are an essential part of literacy instruction, and interactive read-alouds are an excellent way to promote robust classroom discussions (Hintz and Smith, 2022). During interactive read-alouds, children engage in conversations to construct meaning and explore connections through shared reading experiences (2022). As such, using children’s literature as an interactive read-aloud to mathematize encourages sensemaking and helps students to develop more robust identities as mathematicians (2022).
What Types of Books Should Be Used?
Ideas for mathematizing can potentially be developed from any children’s literature read-aloud, but Hintz and Smith (2022) have identified three categories of books:
- Text Dependent: Books where mathematics is central to the story, such as Splash! (Jonas, 1997) or The Doorbell Rang (Hutchins, 1986).
- Idea-Enhancing: Books where mathematics is not central to the story or plot, but have mathematical potential, such as The Rainbow Fish (Pfister, 1992) or Jabari Jumps (Cornwall, 2017).
- Illustration-Exploring: Books where mathematics is not central to the story, nor does it lend itself strongly to mathematizing, but there are pictures or words where one can pause to think mathematically, such as Grumpy Bird (Tankard, 2007) or The Snowy Day (Keats, 1976).
Regardless of the type of book that is selected, mathematics can be brought into focus and explored.
Literature List Resources
Everyday Mathematics has compiled literature lists by grade level that can be used for mathematics read-alouds:
- Kindergarten Literature List
- Grade 1 Literature List
- Grade 2 Literature List
- Grade 3 Literature List
- Grade 4 Literature List
- Grade 5 Literature List
- Grade 6 Literature List
In the T-TAC ODU Library: Books to Build Math and Literacy Connections
The books described below are available for checkout in the T-TAC ODU Lending Library.
Don’t have a T-TAC ODU library account? You can set up a free account by completing the Library Account Request Form.
What If Your ABCs Were Your 123s?
This practical book includes teaching scenarios modeling the crossover of literacy and math strategies and provides techniques to strengthen students’ grasp of foundational concepts and advance their skills in reasoning and problem-solving.
Hands-On Math and Literature with Mathstart Book Sets
These book sets, grouped by math strand, include Level 1,2, and 3 Stuart Murphy Mathstart books as well as activities to connect math concepts to literature. The activity books’ engaging activities offer hands-on experiences to teach students the core topics covered by each MathStart book.
The math strands of the book sets are:
- Number and Operations (26 leveled books)
- Measurement (16 leveled books)
- Geometry (5 leveled books)
- Data Analysis and Probability (8 leveled books)
- Algebra (7 leveled books)
Burchinal, M., Krowka, S., Newman-Gonchar, R., Jayanthi, M., Gersten, R., Wavell, S., Lyskawa, J., Haymond, K., Bierman, K., Gonzalez, J. E., McClelland, M. M., Nelson, K., Pentimonti, J., Purpura, D. J., Sachs, J., Sarama, J., Schlesinger-Devlin, E., Washington, J., & Rosen, E. (2022). Preparing young children for school (WWC 2022009). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE), Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from https://whatworks.ed.gov/
Hintz, A., Smith, A.T. (2022). Mathematizing children’s literature. Portsmouth: Stenhouse Publishers.
Morrow-Leong, K., Delano Moore, S., Gojak, L.M. (2021). Mathematize it! Going beyond keywords to make sense of word problems. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press, Inc.