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Books That Count

If there's one school subject that kids complain about most, it's math. Here's the good news: New studies say kids can eliminate their fears and nurture their math quotient by reading books that integrate simple math into the storyline.

According to researchers, reading out loud with your child can jumpstart your grade schooler's mathematical thinking and help eliminate the math doldrums. Even children who can't read yet can benefit when their parents read fun and interesting material like the counting and simple numbers books that are published for young children.

According to Donna Maxim, a teacher at the Center for Teaching and Learning in Edgecomb, Maine, "[This kind of ] children's writing plays an important role in confirming the idea that math is more than computation on paper." She adds, "The stories introduce and reinforce simple math concepts, cause children to think mathematically, and help them make connections to their everyday world." For example, the book Money Monster tells the story of monsters going to the pet store to buy a pet. Kids learn about the worth of different coins, counting money, and how much things cost.

To make the most of math-related stories, try these strategies:

? Examine the book's cover and title for hints about the story's theme.

? If your child can read, read the book to him, then ask him to read it to you.

? Refer back to what your child knows about the characters and help her to recall other information.

? Discuss new math words such as add, subtract, multiply, and divide, and post them on the fridge or bulletin board.

The Number Game

Books like these help children discover the ways math comes in handy in everyday life:

Money Monster by Grace Maccaroni and Marilyn Burns (Scholastic). Ten smiling monsters make a trip to the pet store to buy a pet. In this story children learn to recognize and count different combinations of pennies, nickels, and dimes. Ages 4-6

Amanda Bean's Amazing Dream by Cindy Neuschwander and Marilyn Burns (Scholastic). Amanda Bean counts everything from the books in the library to popcorn in her bowl, but she discovers she can count faster if she learns to multiply. Ages 5-8

How Big is a Foot? by Rolf Myller (Dell). How big should the Queen's new bed be? No one knows! In this book children learn about measurement. Ages 4-8

Even Steven and Odd Todd by Kathryn Cristaldi (Scholastic). Children learn basic number concepts in the story of a mismatched pair of cousins with different number preferences. Ages 6-8

How Much is a Million? by David M. Schwartz (Scholastic). The author explains large numbers to children by comparing numbers to familiar concepts. For instance, if you want to count to a million, it will take you about 23 days. Ages 5-8

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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