Top maths books

Top Maths Books


KS2 Maths: Study Book Pt. 1 & 2 (Study Books)

Just one of a great collection of primary maths books. Full of good humour ( the jokes aren’t bad if you are 10 years old) and colourful explanations. Popular with schools as well as parents – many schools are recommending it as a revision guide, which is a pretty fair description of it. Probably the biggest drawback is that there is a limited amount of work to actually do.

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murdererous maths

The Essential Arithmetricks (Murderous Maths)

Now, how serious do you like your maths?
‘Not very much!’
OK then the Murderous Maths series might be right up your street.
I have taken my favourite of the series: The Essential Arithmetricks featuring Pongo McWhiffy amongst many others, who guide you through the complexities of arithmetic – including awful addition, sickly subtraction, terrible tables, maddening multiplication and diabolical division.

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fizzbuzz Fizz Buzz: 101 Spoken Numeracy Games – Ideal for Mental Maths
Now, I am often asked what kinds of activities can parents do with their children at home to encourage mathematical thinking and to speed up knowledge of tables, addition etc. Well this book supplies many of the answers. The key is in the rest of the title: “101 Spoken Numeracy Games.” It covers pretty much everything in calculating and knowledge of number for primary school children and is aimed at mental arithmetic rather than pencil and paper maths.

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Beginning algebra can be tricky – and that’s where The Little Maths Book comes in. The idea is to move away from the usual dull, functional explanations and come up with something small and beautiful which is a great introduction to algebra.
Two brothers (a maths tutor and award winning graphic designer) have got together to produce a clever little book concentrating on the fundamental ideas of algebra, but with engaging graphics of birds, balloons, buses etc. It has clever fold out pages which show visually what happens when you balance an equation, almost like a pop-up book.
Aimed at any age, this is a nifty book which makes understanding algebra interesting and fun for both young and old alike. Certainly an excellent introduction for year 7 students.

The Little Algebra Book

folens.GIF Folens: Maths for the less able

This series of four files is aimed at children between 7 and 11 who don’t find maths easy. Folders of work rather than a book as such. Generally, they address the needs of children who are about two years below the average for their age group and they do this quite well.

Full review

Maths From Stories: a selection of superb story books to help with early years maths

The boy who was followed home.The Boy Who Was Followed Home

The first in our series of books for 3-5 year old children to help with maths: in this case a superb book to help with counting and adding.

Margaret Mahy is one of our most popular and successful writers for young children and this book is one of her best.

A young boy is walking home and he finds himself being followed by a hippopotamus. The hippo goes into his garden pond and settles down to live. The same thing happens again, and again until his parents decide there is no room left for any more.

handas-surpriseHanda’s Surprise (Walker paperbacks)

Handa’s Surprise is a great book for young children – one that they really like to have read to them again and again. As well as being a good story it incorporates some strong maths concepts, including counting, sequencing and subtraction.
Set in Africa there is a warm summery glow to the book with bright illustrations and a range of unusual animals and fruits which children may not have come across before.
Handa puts seven exotic fruits into her basket and sets off to take them to her friend. She carries the basket on her head and as she walks along animals steal the fruits one at a time.

This is available as a ‘Big Book’ and with a DVD.

Five Little DucksFive Little Ducks

Five Little Ducks is a story about… yes, you guessed it, five little ducks! They go out one day, waddling down to the pond to play.
But, as they swim and play on the pond, one of them wanders off and disappears, and then another, and another until there is just one little duck left. You are not really sure what has happened to each of the ducks, especially as there is a fox lurking in the background. However, there is a happy ending as Mama Duck finds her missing ducklings snuggled up in the garden shed.
Great story for counting up and down to five, with wonderful illustrations.
Ian Beck was an illustrator for over 20 years (including the artwork for Elton John’s Yellow Brick Road album) and turned to writing children’s stories for his own first child.

There are several other books with the same title, but this is definitely my favourite.

CaterpillarThe Very Hungry Caterpillar (Picture Puffin)
This is the book which has inspired many young children. An absolute must for children from one upwards, although I am pretty sure that you will have come across it before.Put simply, a story about how a little egg, on a leaf in the moonlight becomes a hungry caterpillar who eats and eats and eats until finally turning into a beautiful butterfly.

Make sure that you get the large size book as the holes in the pages which the caterpillar has eaten through are great for young children to explore.
It teaches about counting, ordering, time and days of the week as well as a little science! Each page is a new day and each day the caterpillar eats one more piece of food.
The BBC has written news stories about this book including that it has been said that one copy a minute has been sold since it was released in 1969.

41bg2e0ampl-sl160-The Shopping Basket (Red Fox picture book)

The Shopping Basket by John Burningham is a great little book which will be thoroughly enjoyed by young children whilst at the same time helping them with counting and subtraction. Steven is a little boy who is asked by his mum to go round to the local corner shop, taking the shopping basket with him to bring back 6 eggs, five bananas, four apples….etc. The scenario will be familiar to many children as a trip round to the corner shop is often the first time they are allowed out alone by their parents. However, this is not an ordinary trip to the shops as Steven meets all kinds of dangers on the way. These dangers come in the form of animals such as a bear, a monkey and a kangaroo,  demanding the contents of his shopping basket. Steven deals with the dangers in a variety of ways and arrives home safely – but will his heroic efforts be appreciated? John Burningham is one of the best writers of children’s books and this is one of his best – humourous, well illustrated and not to be missed.

Mr.Wolf’s Week
Mr Wolf’s Week by Colin Hawkins is an old favourite and one of the best versions is the mini-pop up.
In this book the wolf is not very threatening, perhaps almost friendly in appearance.  It is a brightly coloured book which leads you through a week in the life of Mr Wolf. He wears different clothes each day of the week which co-incide with the type of weather. It rains on Mondays so he takes an umbrella with him etc  etc. The pages are really brightly coloured and funny.
Good for talking about the days of the week in the right sequence as well as talking about the weather.
There is not a lot of writing on the pages, but the illustrations give plenty of ideas to talk about, which is probably why it is a favourite in classrooms.

Teddybears Go Shopping (Picture Hippo)
Storybooks that are great for maths from

Making lists is an important part of the data handling strand of the Primary Framework for Maths and there is hardly a better example of list making than Teddybears Go Shopping by Susanna Gretz and  Alison Sage.
The shopping list is very much like a song and encourages children to repeat it –great for encouraging the memory! However, all does not go exactly to plan at the supermarket as William and the rest of the bears go shopping!
Children of all ages love this book – well worth reading!

Jim and the BeanstalkJim and the Beanstalk (Puffin Picture Books)

This is a rewrite of the famous Jack tale by Raymond Briggs. Just like Jack, Jim wakes up to find a tall plant growing outside his house. He climbs up to the top where there is a huge house. A very old giant lives in the house – not the nasty sort of giant in the traditional tale, but an unhappy one who no longer eats three boys on toast for breakfast! Jim gets the giant some large glasses, giant false teeth and a very red wig!

The ending is lovely and there is some great mathematical language in this book, mainly to do with size and shape. Perfect for 3 to 5 years old.

Why not take your child through an imaginary climb up the beanstalk to meet the giant?

Seven dizzy dragonsSeven Dizzy Dragons and Other Maths Rhymes by Sue Atkinson

‘Big books’ tend to be used only in schools as they are great for a teacher to sit with the class and look at the story. They also tend to be quite expensive and not easily available in book shops. This great book can be purchased as a ‘Big Book’ or as a paperback, but it is not easy to find.

However, I have put ‘Seven Dizzy Dragons and Other Maths Rhymes’ in my collection as it really is a great set of rhymes.
It contains 28 counting and number rhymes, including counting up in ones, twos, threes, and so on, odd and even numbers, patterns of numbers, ordinal numbers, number bonds to ten, and early addition and subtraction.

There are lots of ways to enjoy this book including learning and reciting the rhymes together and it is a great resource to help with early counting and number.

Two by Two by Barbara ReidTwo by Two by Barbara Reid
This book is a real must for any parent who loves sitting down and looking at books with their young children. Written in rhymes to tell the story of Noah’s Ark you will find your child returning again and again to their favourite pages.

One of the best aspects of the book is the amazing 3-D sculptured animals, but the book can be enjoyed in a number of ways. The rhymes can be read or sung and children can soon learn them or just look at the animals and talk about them and the tricks they get up to.

The animals come in two by two, three by three, four by four etc so it is easy to incorporate a little maths.

The Cockatoos by Quentin BlakeCockatoos (Red Fox Picture Books)

Another great book from Quentin Blake which will help children with their counting. The star of the book is a very fuddy duddy old chap called Professor Dupont. His day never changes; every morning washing, dressing, putting on his tie, going downstairs etc etc he sticks to the same routine which includes welcoming his ten cockatoos with exactly the same phrase every day,
“Good morning, my fine feathered friends!”
Now, the cockatoos are very, very bored with this routine and one day decide to play a trick on Professor Dupont. When he opens the conservatory doors to say good morning they have all gone!
The rest of the book is for the reader to find each of them, because the Prof just cannot find them.
Of course there is a happy ending. Some parents might themselves find this a little tedious but in my experience children (2 – 5) certainly don’t, so if you haven’t already, sit down and read it with them.

The Doorbell Rang imageThe Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins.
A great writer of children’s picture books, Pat Hutchins has created a wonderfully simple book which helps with the very earliest understanding of sharing. Mum has made 12 scrumptious cookies for her two children – obviously they are going to get lots each. They count them and find that they are going to get six each but then the doorbell rings and friends arrive to share the cookies. Each time the doorbell rings there is less for each child until they are down to only one each. Then the doorbell rings again!!

tennineeight.pngTen, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang

To celebrate World Book Day, a few words about one of my favourite books for young children to help them with their maths.

Whatever you do, don’t miss this book if you have young children about to enter school. A counting book, in this case counting down from ten toes, nine friends etc as a father and young daughter get ready for bed.

The characters are interesting, an African-American family, and the warm colours of the illustrations really are a delight. Each page has a warm, comforting glow, perfect for a bedtime story.

I know of several children who have memorised the whole book – always a good sign!

Mr MagnoliaMister Magnolia

Written in the 1980s this is a great little story that is excellent for encouraging understanding of pairs and odd and even numbers. In this book Mr Magnolia leads a really happy life apart from one rather strange thing – he only has one boot. Written more or less as nonsense verse it appeals to children with imagination as he has a number of very strange possessions, including a frog, a toad and a newt, some exotic birds a big purple dinosaur who’s a magnificent brute.

Quentin Blake is, of course, one of our best known illustrators, having illustrated over 300 books, including many of Roald Dahl’s.

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