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Great Mathematics Books September 16, 2012

Posted by stem4kidsinfo in Uncategorized.
This week I’m sharing some of my favorite books on math, appropriate for a wide variety of ages and grades.  I read many of these books between ages 7-12, and I won’t hesitate to cite them as sparking my interest in STEM.

The Number Devil

The Number Devil, by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, follows a mathophobic boy named Robert as he dreams of the titular Number Devil, who teaches him the joys of mathematics.  The book is broken up over 12 nights, during which Robert learns about many different areas of number theory, with awesomely redesigned names (why calculate 10 factorial when you can have 10 vroom?!).  The book also ventures into a bit of the history of mathematics towards the end, along with some mentions of topics like ‘impossible’ geometry and logic.  The Number Devil is one of my all-time favorite books, from its humorous scenarios and amusing illustrations to its bizarre sense of logic and charming plot.  I first read this book when I was 7, and I still remember the sense of amazement upon seeing the wonderful world of mathematics, from “prima donna” numbers to “rutabegas”.  While this book is probably more suited for budding elementary or middle school mathematicians, its quirky sense of humor is suited for almost any age.

The Adventures of Penrose, the Mathematical Cat

Penrose is a cat, but not just any cat- he belongs to the mathematician Theoni Pappas, and as such Penrose has the unique experience among cats of meeting all kinds of strange mathematical creatures.  The book is divided into short sections on different areas of mathematics, all of which are independent of each other- perfect for quick exercises with younger students (i.e., those with shorter attention spans).  Each section contains a brief story coupled with a lesson, where Penrose helps an oddity of the mathematical world in some way, from the Fibonacci Rabbit to the odd creatures called Tangramians.  After each lesson, Penrose thoughtfully supplies brief exercises and crafts to do related to the lesson, such as how to fold your own origami crane, or how to create a magic square with any odd-numbered length for a side.  While the book lacks a continuous plot as a result of the lesson-based system, the dialogue is often humorous, especially to younger children.  This book is probably best for grades 2-5 or so.

More books to come next week!



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