Used Any Numbers Lately? by Susan Allen and Jane Lindaman

Used Any Numbers Lately? is a math-readiness book, emphasizing awareness of numbers in the everyday world. It’s got a fun little twist, in that it’s arranged as an alphabet book as well – each letter of the alphabet showing one place you can find a number. For example,

A  Apartment number

B  Bus number

And so on. Each of the items is well-chosen to be familiar to most children, with the exception of X. How many preschoolers are going to have seen an algebraic equation?

I like the concept behind the book. Pointing out to children all the ways in which we use numbers builds a fundamental awareness necessary for later success in math. Hopefully, Used Any Numbers Lately? will inspire you and your and child to notice and talk about the numbers you see throughout the day.

I suggest this book is most appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers. To extend it for older children, the illustrator has included “other” numbers in each picture – so the picture of the “bus number” also includes a number on a sports jersey – for an “I Spy” sort of game.

The illustrations are nice enough, if perhaps a touch too detailed. There is not much text, so cadence isn’t an issue at all. It’s probably not a book your children will beg to read again, but it is one you can pull out again and again, to reinforce the concepts.

Available on Amazon

Used Any Numbers Lately? by Susan Allen and Jane Lindaman, illustrated by Vicky Enright. Millbrook Press, 2008.


Earth Day – Hooray! by Stuart J. Murphy

It almost feels like a cheat to call this book “about” Earth Day, because that’s really just a cover for something sneaky… a math lesson!

The kids at Maple Street School are cleaning up the park for Earth Day, and they’d sure like to plant some flowers to make it look pretty. But where to get the money? How about they collect and recycle some aluminum cans? Their teacher thinks 5,000 cans should about do the job.

The math lesson taught is place value – ones, tens, hundreds, and thousands – making this a book for older preschoolers who are curious about numbers (the published suggests ages 7 and up, but I think that’s too high).  Beyond that, Earth Day – Hooray! offers some good lessons on team work, civic action, promoting a cause, and overcoming a disappointment. Oh, yeah, there’s quite a bit about recycling, too, but it’s tucked away in little signs and balloons in the illustrations. You almost have to search out the Earth Day message.

The illustrations are colorful and done in a cartoon style. The last two pages of the book offer ideas for grownups to extend the lessons – both math and environmental – and offers suggestions of additional books on the topics.

Overall, I have to say I like getting two different lessons in one book. Lots here to talk about; expect to have to repeat it several times while your child gets a firm grasp of the material.

Available on Amazon

Earth Day – Hooray! by Stuart J. Murphy, illustrated by Renee Andriani. HarperCollins Publishers 2004.