10 math story books for kids -- a list of living books that combine math and literature with a love for learning

Round-Up of fun math stories

This is a round-up of our favorite math stories. I didn’t realize until recently that this was even a thing, but during a recent trip to our library I realized there was an entire section dedicated to math books — not the textbook kind, but beautifully illustrated, fiction and nonfiction story books for kids! 

We have a few of these books at home and now that I’m thinking about it, I remember reading several other fun math non-textbooks. I thought I’d share my list of books I’ve personally read and can recommend with you all as well as some recommendations for further research on the topic that I’ve run across.

Teaching math through literature using Living Books

I’ve heard about Living Books and I love the idea of homeschooling using living books rather than (or maybe in addition to) textbooks. Basically, living books are books written by people who are knowledgeable and passionate about their subject — so the books they write are accurate, interesting, and they cover material in a more authentic and deeper way than a textbook ever could. As far as I understand, the term doesn’t refer to a set list of books but rather to a type of book.

I was wondering earlier today if these types of math stories would be considered living books — so I was happy to run across this post by Hip Homeschooling Moms on this exact topic: http://www.hiphomeschoolmoms.com/teach-math-without-curriculum/ — she even explains her strategy of using living books to replace a traditional math curriculum. It’s a very inspiring post!

The List

You can click on each picture to see more information about these books. These are affiliate links, which means that if you click on the links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission — at no additional cost to you. You can read my full disclosure and privacy policy here.


1.) 512 Ants on Sullivan Street (Hello Reader, Math, Level 4, Grade 2 & 3) by Carol Losi (with Marilyn Burns as a collaborator)  (Note: You can read more about my own homeschooling lesson and explanation of Exponential growth here: Math Monday: Exponential growth (for young kids).)

2.) Math Curse by Jon Scieszka  (Note: See also Science Verse by the same author — these are fun books for kids and adults — maybe more fun for adults!) 

3.) Millions, Billions, & Trillions: Understanding Big Numbers by David A. Adler. (My take away from this book: the author describes trillions in terms of the U.S. debt! This book put that in perspective for me for the first time!)

4.) How Much is a Million? by David M. Schwartz  (Author), Steven Kellogg (Illustrator) (Note: I’m making a point of mentioning the illustrator here because I LOVE all the books he illustrates! 🙂 )

5.) That’s a possibility!: A Book About What Might Happen by Bruce Goldstone. This is a great way to introduce young kids to the fundamental concepts in probability and statistics.

6.) A Fair Bear Share (MathStart 2) by Stuart J. Murphy (Note: This is one book in a series of Math storybooks — it looks like there’s 3 levels — I am definitely going to start working my way through these books!)

7.) Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst, author of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. (On a related note, the Berenstein Bear series has a book about money — I haven’t read it, but I noticed it in a search and will look for it soon, so I wanted to pass along that idea as well.)

8.) Chicka Chicka 1 2 3 by Bill Martin Jr. (Note: This is a great book for toddlers and preschoolers! We also love the audio recording of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom — it was part of our bedtime routine for so long that eventually my preschooler could recite the whole book by memory!)

 9.) What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras? by Julie Ellis

10.) Sir Cumference and the First Round Table (A Math Adventure) by Cindy Neuschwander (Note: There are 10 books in the Sir Cumference series. I haven’t read all of them, but I have liked the ones I’ve read and have heard great things about the whole series. Bethany at Math Geek Mama has a whole product line of lessons and activities based on this series — it looks like a really fun way to tie literacy and math skills together, while strategically practicing important math skills in a fun, unique way.)

And More!

This is only the tip of the iceberg! 🙂 I’m listing books I’ve personally read and enjoyed, but if you do any internet or library search, you’ll find a lot more suggestions. (For instance, Bekki at Chasing Supermom has a list of 100 books about math for kids.) I’m a strong advocate for anything that helps to make math an enjoyable family experience, and I love that these books tie literature and math together!

What other math stories have you read and loved that help explain math concepts in new and exciting ways?

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Learning Resources for Teachers, Tutors, and Parents

If you’d like to visit my store to see my library of learning resources (focused on Pre-K – 3rd grade Math, Reading, and Writing, and High School Algebra and Geometry), you can check it out here:
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Sandra-Balisky

9 comments on “10 excellent math stories for kids and a curated list of living books that combine math and literature”

    • Thanks! Glad to hear your family has enjoyed these as well! And I appreciate the site visit and comment :).

  1. These definitely would’ve helped math go smoother for me when my kids were younger! Thanks for sharing at Fridays Unfolded! Pinned!

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