Connecting Math and Reading

All parents understand the importance of reading, but have you ever combined math and reading at the same time? It’s possible to put math and reading together in a meaningful way and have fun doing it.

Reading books with math themes will enhance your children’s enjoyment and pique their interest of both subjects simultaneously. Reading a math-focused children’s book is especially effective when you take the time to encourage your child to think about the math in the story. This means you may need to modify your approach to reading together when you choose a book with a math theme. For example, The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins is a delightful story about sharing cookies. You and your child will enjoy reading it from cover to cover, but you can also use it as an opportunity to do mathematics together in a comfortable, relaxed setting. Take advantage of the math situations embedded in the story by following these suggestions.

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California Mathematics Council, the Sonoma County Office of Education, and the California Math Project: North Coast 

Before beginning the book, it might be fun to bake some cookies or have a plate of store-bought cookies nearby to help your child visualize the math problems you’ll be reading about—just don’t eat them until the end of the story

Read a few pages, then pause when you come to the first math situation in the book. Ask a math-related question that anticipates what happens next. For example, “How many children have to share the cookies now?”

Once your child solves the problem, continue reading. Stop and ask other math-related questions as long as your child stays interested. (Don’t stop too often or your child may lose the story line.

Sometimes it’s wise to skip over information that’s in the book. For instance, the first math situation in The Doorbell Rang occurs when two children must share 12 cookies. The book reads, “That’s six each ….” Instead of immediately reading this line, you might say, “If there are 12 cookies to begin with, how many cookies will each child get?”

Let your child do the math (or sort the cookies you have on hand) and answer the question. Be patient and allow time to solve the problem before continuing to read. “You’re right! That’s six each ….”