Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Math Books

We've been searching the library for fun math books for Jay. Since the only Math curriculum he's currently using is Key to Measurement & Metric Measurement, we wanted to make sure he had something else to fill out the subject. So, I have put several math books on hold each week at the library.

The Great Pyramid of Giza: Measuring Length, Area, Volume, and Angles
by: Janey Levy   Age 10+

This is a short book, only 30 pages. A mathy child, or a child with prior experience with the concepts of area, volume, & measuring angles, could feasibly go through the whole book in one sitting. Others may prefer to take a few days, covering one concept at a time. The book includes some history & interesting facts about the pyramids. This would actually be a good book to add to a unit study about Ancient Egypt or the pyramids. It is not a fun book. It provides information and shows you how to work through the problems. There is no fun story or entertaining characters. If your child is not interested in Math or Ancient Egypt, they quite possibly won't be interested in this book.
The book gives all the measurements in both standard & metric. It also shows you how to convert from standard to metric & asks for each answer in both. While I appreciate that it shows almost all the problems worked out completely, I wish they were worked out on a page separate from the question. By asking the question, then working it out right there, it removes the opportunity for the child to try it before seeing the answer. The info I found said the book was for ages 10 and up, but it could easily be understood by advanced younger students.
This could be an interesting introduction to Geometry or a mild review after a break. It does not provide answers to the last few questions, about the pyramids of Khafre & Mankaure, but does reference what pages to look at if you're having trouble remembering how to solve them.

Manga Math Mysteries Series
by Melinda Thielbar  grade 3-4

My first though was that these aren't really Manga. My understanding is that Manga are supposed to be read back to front, whereas these are read front to back. Regardless, they are fun comic books that involve Math. The books revolve around a group of kids who like to solve mysteries & puzzles. These mysteries & puzzles, of course, require Math to solve. In each book, the mystery requires a specific concept (money, fractions, probability, etc.). They cover typical 3rd - 5th grade concepts, though the kids in the books appear to be a little older than that. The books are short, which makes them a quick read. After reading two of the books, my son specifically requested that I put the rest on hold.

What's Your Angle Pythagoras? A Math Adventure
by Julie Ellis  grades 3-5

This is a story of Pythagoras as a curious young boy. In this adventure, he meets a builder who uses a knotted rope to find right angles to help cut stones evenly. Pythagoras creates his own knotted rope & finds its secrets. Through his investigations, he is able to help some local builders build a temple & help his father find a quicker route to Crete.
Topics introduced include right triangles, square numbers, and (of course) the Pythagorean Theorem. It would be a fun introduction to the topics for young children. There is enough solid information there to be a decent starting point for a Math-loving child, especially with a parent to help them find more information & some practice with the concepts.

Pythagoras & the Ratios: A Math Adventure
by Julie Ellis   age 8+

This is the sequel to What's Your Angle Pythagoras? In this story, he uses Math to help his cousins fix their lyres & pipes so they can play them together. In return, they help him with his chores. The math in this one is rather light. It gives a quick explanation of GCF & simplifying fractions. It also explains that a ratio is a relationship between two items. This might make a fun read for a math-phobic or math-hating child. There simply isn't enough Math there to serve as anything more than a very light introduction to a few concepts, though.

The Grapes of Math
by Greg Tang   ages 7-10

We mainly picked up this one because my son found the reference to The Grapes of Wrath hilarious. This book is full of short poems, each one asking "how many?" Each also has a hint at the bottom to help the reader find a way to the answer that is faster than counting. While the book is supposed to be for ages 7-10, the puzzles seem rather easy for the upper part of that range. Though, it could be a fun way to introduce young kids to the idea that there is often more than one way to find the solution.

Mystery Math: A First Book of Algebra
by David A. Adler   Age 6-10 or grade 3-6

A first book of Algebra is right, with the emphasis on first. First, as in "I wish we had picked up this book when my son was in kindergarten or first grade, because it is far too young & easy for him now, in third grade." Depending on where you look, this book is either for kids age 6-10 or grades 3-6. Personally, I would recommend it for grade 1-3 (at the oldest). There isn't really much of a story to this one. It explains a few basic algebra terms (equation & variable) & provides a few very simple examples (Y+1=7). Then, it walks you through 4 easy problems. In the back, there is an activity you can do with things easily found around the house. That is the entirety of the book.
The book is quite short & extremely easy. If your math program is just introducing simple algebraic concepts (such as when they introduce problems like 3+?=5), this book might help a child understand how those problems will be used later in more advanced mathematics. Each of the 4 problems it walks you through uses one of the 4 basic operations. Even if your child is not yet comfortable or familiar with all of the operations, it should not pose a problem, as it works it all out for you. The problems are introduced as word problems. Then, they are worked out on the next page. This gives the reader an opportunity to try to solve it before they see it worked out.

Edgar Allan Poe's Pie: Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems
by J. Patrick Lewis   age 8-12

This is a book of poems (each inspired by a popular poem by a well-known poet) with math puzzles in them. In addition to the four basic operations, the puzzles also involve concepts such as percent, area, perimeter, and fractions. The poems are fun, especially if the child is familiar with the originals. If they aren't familiar with the original poems, you could read the originals after the mathy version & compare the two or discuss the style of poem.
I wouldn't use this as an introduction to any of the concepts, but instead as fun practice. It includes a decent amount of math. My son loves this book & enjoyed solving all of the puzzles.