A review of maths based picture books

It’s often the case that we learn more when we feel relaxed so why not add some picture books to your maths lessons? This review, compiled by ELS librarian Sarah Merison, highlights some gems that can be shared with your class whilst at the same time teaching about counting, shapes and operations such as multiplying. Who says maths can’t be fun?

Count on me by Miguel Tanco

ISBN: 9781849767347, published by Tate Publishing

This quirky picture book is an ode to maths. The girl narrator explains how her passion is maths and she loves to look for it all around her; in the patterns in the park, the shapes in the playground and the groups or sets on the dinner table. Lots of mathematical language is included, and at the back of the book an explanation of mathematical concepts such as concentric circles, solid figures, trajectories, fractals and polygons.

The Huey’s in None the Number by Oliver Jeffers

ISBN: 9780007420704, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books.

Distinctive Jeffers illustrations and humour feature in this simple counting book that includes the concept of ‘none’ and counting on from 0 to ten. Great aid in explaining the concept of zero.

How many legs? by Kes Gray and Jim Field (illustrator)

ISBN: 9781444910964, published by Hodder Children’s Books.

Great mathematical themed fun in this picture book as you are invited to count how many legs there would be if yet another animal came for tea, from a polar bear to a chimpanzee, a buffalo to a bumble bee. But what about a slug or snail? And how would the number ‘multiply if a centipede came wiggling by?’

Great to practice adding, or counting up in two’s, the rather long sum is written out at the end of the story and the answer given – 174. The mad cap illustrations are a delight!

This is the story of Alison Hubble who went to bed single and woke up double by Allan Ahlberg and Bruce Ingman (illustrator)

ISBN: 9780141359243, published by Puffin Books.

This rhyming story features a title character who doubles not just once, but through the story so many times that the ‘Alisons’ fill the whole town of Stoke on Trent!

Great to introduce the concept of doubling and the two times table. Once the story gets to 32 Alisons they stop counting, but could your children carry on?

One moose, twenty mice by Clare Beaton.

ISBN: 9781902283388, published by Barefoot Books.

Beaton uses her felt stitched collages to form the illustrations for this counting book that features animals and the corresponding number on every page. Bright, colourful, fun and counts up to twenty – perfect!

The sheep won’t sleep! by Curtis Jobling and Tom McLaughlin

ISBN: 9781405267113, published by Egmont UK Ltd.

Farmyard mayhem ensues in this story as sheepdog’s efforts to get 100 sheep to sleep fails miserably and they escape in groups of ten to cause mischief around the farmyard.

The rhyming text and wacky illustrations are great fun, and children will love counting up in tens through the pages as gradually all the sheep are found.

Crash! Boom! A maths tale by Robie H. Harris and Chris Chatterton (illustrator)

ISBN: 9781406380514, published by Walker Books

A lively picture book, ideal for EYFS who will love the simple story and relate to the activity of tower building with blocks and the fun that can be had knocking your tower down afterwards!

Lots of maths concepts and language are used – counting, measuring, predicting, balancing and more. Great fun!

Hands Down – counting in fives by Michael Dahl and Todd Ouren (illustrator)

ISBN: 9781474791205, published by Raintree.

One of a series of ‘Know your numbers’ books published by Raintree, this book does what it says in the title by inviting readers to count up in fives as hand prints are used to create a variety of pictures, from a crab to a spring garden.

Each double page spread includes ‘tiles’ illustrating the number sequence in dots and figures so that the five times table is easy to refer to. Children are also invited to look for a number hidden on each page from 5 to 50.

Other titles in the series include ‘From the garden – a counting book about growing food’, ‘Toasty toes – counting in tens’ and ‘Eggs and legs – counting in twos’.

The Real Princess – a mathemagical tale by Brenda Williams and Sophie Fatus (illustrator)

ISBN: 9781846863929, published by Barefoot Books.

An alternative fairy tale, the story of the princess and the pea is rewritten here, with three princes trying to find their real princess. Lots of opportunities for counting, addition, subtraction and some multiplication too as each prince meets and marries his princess. Only one princess proves ‘real’ having suffered a terrible night’s sleep as she felt the golden pea through 9 mattresses and 10 feather beds!

Quirky colourful illustrations and an array of ‘mathemagical’ opportunities make this a book worth sharing.


Browse more great fiction on our online catalogue. If you need any further book recommendations, or would like to find out more about the service we offer to subscribing schools, please get in touch.


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