The Missouri Reader Vol. 43, Issue 2 - Page 22

Classroom Close-up


\The Magical Kingdom of Mathical Books: An Introduction for Teachers


B. J. Boulware and Eula Monroe

The magical kingdom of Mathical Award Prize books features fiction and nonfiction trade books. For fiction choices, the characters, often seen as role models, encounter problems and work toward solutions, typically using mathematics in some way. The nonfiction award-winning texts may be informational and include engaging situations and contexts that yield mathematical knowledge, thus helping readers better understand the world around them. Mathical books also help readers understand literacy-mathematics connections in their lives.

The diverse award-winning titles are chosen annually in age-appropriate categories for PreK, K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12 students. Many of the books selected contain themes that can be used in multiple age ranges. Various genres offer opportunities for readers to gain mathematical knowledge within purposeful situations. Mathical books can be connected to the grade levels and the strands from the Missouri Learning Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics.

Mathical booklists are a repository of texts that can be used by teachers to enable their students to make connections between mathematics and real-life situations. Using literature and math side-by-side can empower students with new vocabulary and an understanding of how math is often a part of adventurous and exciting circumstances. For example, there may be episodes within a chapter book or a picture book where hidden treasures are found, payments are made, goods are sold or stolen, measuring occurs, calendars are studied, mileage is calculated, and the time needed to complete a task is estimated. Seeing math transactions in children’s literature provides students practice in unlocking meaning from print (Monroe & Young, 2018).

Disciplinary literacy is a concern of literacy educators. Using age-appropriate print materials in classrooms motivates learners to engage in thinking and reasoning that enables them to make meaning of texts and thus enhance their comprehension. These books of various genres are excellent choices for teachers to read aloud to their classes, for literature circle groups, or for independent study. Students can participate in discussion and examination of problems of many kinds embedded in story settings and informational passages, thus developing strategies for persevering in problem solving, a central goal in mathematics (and in life). Structure can be provided for the development of vocabulary through bridging to real-world connections. Mathical picture books or chapter books can support students’ confidence in understanding and applying Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) concepts in their daily lives (Furner, 2018). Readers are able to merge their thoughts with the facts presented, events that occurred, or actions and expressions of memorable characters in the context of meaningful settings (Tunnell, Jacobs, Young, & Bryan, 2016; Butera, Friesen, Palmer, et al., 2014; Young, McDuffie, & Ward, 2011).

The Mathical Book Prize is supported by the Mathematical Science Research Institute located in Berkeley, CA and was initiated in 2015. This nonprofit organization is registered as a 501(c) (3). In addition, the award is supported by the National Science Foundation, the Firedoll Foundation, the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, and the Simons Foundation. Other partners include the Children’s Book Council (CBC), National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). Publishers are eligible to submit up to three titles for consideration for a Mathical Book Prize yearly using the Google Form on the Mathical website. The group that selects the annual winners is not affiliated with specific book companies and includes preschool teachers, elementary educators, middle grades and high school mathematics instructors, college professors, media specialists, and others who are able to make unbiased recommendations for the awards.

Because of space limitations, we provide a listing and descriptions of award-winning books (2015-2019) designated for grades K-2 (ages 5-7) and grades 3-5 (ages 8-10). Other listings are available on the Mathical online site, including Mathical Prize Winners for students for grades PreK, 6-8 and 9-12; Honor Books; and Hall of Fame selections.

The brief descriptions for books for ages 5-7 are from WORLDCAT and the covers are from the Mathical online site. The brief description for titles designated for ages 8-10 are from Amazon or WORLDCAT.


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