Monday, October 4, 2010

Winning Kids: Little Nippers Top 10

Little Nippers Top 10
by Michelle Berg

It’s back to school and with that, back to learning! After a long summer break, getting back to the old grind can be daunting. With this in mind, I have assigned myself the task of finding books that would help prepare kids for the upcoming school year. I find it interesting that even though most schools today have a required reading list, none of them seem to involve math. And there is a surprisingly considerable amount of books with this very subject matter. The following books not only teach a variety of mathematical principles but are sure to please kids and parents alike!

10. Pigs Will Be Pigs
Written by Amy Axelrod. Illustrated by Sharon McGinley-Nally. Ages 4-8.

(Money) Its dinner time in the Pig household but all their food is gone! As Mr. Pig, Mrs. Pig and all the piglets search their house for spare change the reader is encouraged to count along with them. After finding $34.67 they head to the Enchanted Enchilada for a Mexican dinner. Here the reader can sample the whole menu, including prices, and can add, subtract, multiply and divide a variety of scenarios! This book is a great tool for explaining the way money works and applying basic math skills.
9. Betcha!

Written by Stuart J. Murphy. Illustrated by S.D Schindler. Ages 4-8.

(Estimating) There is a contest at the local toy store that requires kids to guess how many jellybeans are in a jar. As two boys head to the store they practice estimating along the way: the number of people on the bus, the number of cars on a city block and the amount of money they’ll need to buy all the toys in the store window. They discover, as will the readers, that math and estimating can be easy and fun!
8. The Greedy Triangle

Written by Marilyn Burns. Illustrated by Gordon Silveria. Ages 4-8.

(Geometry) In a world of shapes, the Triangle is very busy. He spends his time holding up roofs, making music and catching wind for sailboats. One day, however, he grew dissatisfied with his life and visited the Shapeshifter to make a change. The Shapeshifter is very accommodating and changes the woeful Triangle into a variety of shapes. He changes into a Quadrilateral, a Pentagon, a Hexagon, a Heptagon, and so on and so forth. He ended up changing so many times that he couldn’t tell which way was up until he finally realized that a Triangle was what he was meant to be. With bright colors and offbeat illustrations this book successfully introduces geometric shapes!
7. The Best Vacation Ever

Written by Stuart J. Murphy. Illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott. Ages 4-8.

(Collecting Data) In this book Murphy establishes the ideas of charting and collecting data with a fun story about a girl and her family who are deciding where to go on vacation. To help her family choose a destination, this young girl composes a list of questions for her relatives and begins to chart their answers. In the end, they discover that the best place is their very own backyard. This book is a great teaching tool for a preschool math unit and it comes complete with suggested activities at the end for additional learning.
6. The Millionth Egg

Written and Illustrated by Bernice Myers. Ages 4-8.

(Large Numbers) This zany, lighthearted story is about a group of chickens who are planning a huge party to celebrate the farm’s millionth egg. The count is on; “999,996,” called Elaine the chicken, “four more to go!” But as the arrangements for the party are set, bad news has struck the farm: the farmer plans to tear it all down. Although distressed and bewildered, the chickens manage to change the farmer’s mind, all while reaching their goal of 1,000,000 eggs! Although subtle, this story does a great job at introducing large numbers to young children by gradually counting up to the number and weaving it into the main storyline.
5. Get Up and Go!

Written by Stuart J. Murphy. Illustrated by Diane Greenseid. Ages 4-8.

(Time Lines) Sammie the dog is very worried about his owner as he tries to hurry her off to school. He is so concerned, that he establishes time lines to keep track of the minutes on the clock! Children will love counting the minutes on Sammie’s time line as well as the rhythmic account of his morning routine. Murphy incorporates math vocabulary and, as in all his books, includes suggested “math” activities on the last pages.
4. One Hundred Hungry Ants

Written by Elinor J. Pinczes. Illustrated by Bonnie Mackain. Ages 4-8.

(Division) A whole hill of ants scurry to a picnic in one row but their belly’s are hungry and their moving much too slow. Then, the littlest ant suggests they cross the field in 2 lines of 50 until that also proved too slow! Next they try 4 rows of 25; 5 rows of 20 and so on and so forth. Pinczes’s spirited rhymes present a wonderful way to introduce the principles of division while enjoying a very entertaining story.
3. A Remainder of One

Written by Elinor J. Pinczes. Illustrated by Bonnie Mackain. Ages 4-8.

(Division and the Concept of Remainders) Even if your child does not enjoy math, they will love these rhymes! Pinczes and Mackain do it again; subtly teaching math with wit, merriment and a clever verse. Poor tag-along Joe didn’t have any fun, always left out – as a remainder of one. As 25 bugs march in a parade in two separate rows, their queen is displeased with the uneven lines. Poor Joe, who is left at the end, is asked to step out of the procession. Unhappy with his plight, he examines the situation and begins to make changes. First he tries to change the lines from two to three and then again to four. But every time he was left behind. Then at last, he discovers that if the 25 bugs march in five separate lines he will no longer be left out.
2. The Toothpaste Millionaire

Written by Jean Merrill. Illustrated by Jan Palmer. Ages 9-12.

(Problem Solving) By the time Rufus Mayflower entered the eighth grade he had become a millionaire! How did he do it? He made inexpensive toothpaste that he could sell for only 3cents! Written for children in the intermediate grades, this lighthearted story contains quite a few mathematical problems that the characters must decipher to start their new enterprise. A straight forward, easy to read book that illustrates very basic business lessons that even adults can appreciate.
1. Bunches and Bunches of Bunnies

Written by Louise Mathews. Illustrated by Jeni Basset. Ages 4-8.

(Multiplication) We all know bunnies multiply, but who knew it could be so much fun! In this wonderfully entertaining book we learn that multiplication is as easy as counting. Every page reveals more bunnies and as they flip, walk, talk and sometimes snore; children will learn their multiplication tables with ease. Complete with rhyming narrative, this is a book you’ll want to read again and again.

Michelle Berg is a publisher and author for Little Nipper Books. Please visit her website:

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Anne@LittleSproutBooks said...

These sound like excellent picks! I'm familiar with Bunches of Bunnies, 100 Angry Ants, and A Remainder of One. I'll have to check out the others. I'm linking up my post of choices for great back to school books!