A Guide to Math Picture Books in the Classroom

I Hate Mathematics book, Imagine This blog, Big Brainz, math factsIf you’re an elementary teacher, you’ve probably seen these two kinds of students in your classroom:

  1. Students who understand and enjoy math.
  2. Students who are frustrated by math because they don’t understand it.

It’s your job to help those in the second group find their way into the first group. Luckily, picture books about math can really help.

The ‘Why’ of Math Picture Books

It’s human nature to enjoy stories. By relating to a character who feels the way they do, students can gain the confidence to move through their own challenges–both in and outside the classroom.

Even more importantly, there’s a tangible link between reading and math. It stands to reason that doing one can help the other.

When teachers use picture books containing math themes (either implicit or explicit), they offer students a contextualized experience with mathematics generally.

Plus, a good story can comfort the heart of any student who’s afraid of math. Read more »


Best books for summer reading

On the final day of summer break last year, my daughter devoured Caddie Woodlawn.

Last week I wrote about the techniques I use to encourage my children to read. This week, I am sharing a list of our favorite books. Some of them are award-winners—but even better—all of them win the approval of my three unforgiving children. So pull out the hammock, spread out a blanket, or puff up a beanbag. These books are sure to draw you in!

0–2 years

  • Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
  • Drummer Hoff, Barbara Emberly and Ed Emberly
  • The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See, Bill Martin Jr.
  • Guess How Much I Love You, Sam McBratney
  • The Little Engine That Could, Watty Piper
  • Good Night, Gorilla, Peggy Rathmann
  • Quick as a Cricket, Audrey Wood
  • Piggies, Audrey and Don Wood Read more »

Jump into summer reading

One afternoon in June, I found my girls just like this. They had abandoned their water party for front porch reading.

While summer is a perfect time for children to relax and enjoy travel and other activities, it can also be a time for young minds to become idle. This period of learning loss has been referred to as the “summer slide.” But the only summer slide we want Imagine Learning students to experience is having fun on a slip-n-slide. So let’s talk about summer reading!

I have fond memories of childhood summertime reading. My sisters and I would read on a blanket under our large backyard tree, sprawled out on wet towels poolside, or in our gently swinging hammock. Since I recently inherited most of my mom’s large children’s book collection, my children are now reading the same books as I did. And many of the pages are spotted with evidence of summers past—greasy sunscreen fingerprints, dog-eared pages, and the occasional water spot.

So how do you create a summer of reading? The first step to encouraging a summer full of reading is to get kids to make a summer reading goal. Children can decide how many books, pages, or minutes they want to read. Involve children in this process so they begin with excitement. Most libraries offer a summer reading challenge and often include an incentive for completing the challenge. But if your local library doesn’t offer a summer reading program, you can always create your own. Read more »


10 tips to help kids develop a love of reading

When I was six, I learned to read. The first book I remember reading was about a detective who loved pancakes. I haven’t stopped reading since. My family is a reading family. I remember first reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to my mom. That wizardly series quickly expanded and bonded my immediate and extended family. We had Halloween parties themed after Harry Potter, we went to the midnight releases of new books, and we cried together through the final book. When my family goes on a road trip, we each take a bag of books. I remember one long drive where my grandmother was listening to a Clive Cussler novel while I read my own book. I became quite practiced at tuning out outside distraction on that drive! When I was thirteen, I converted my best friend to reading simply because that was one of my favorite pastimes; now I’ve converted my husband as well. He recently told his mother how he has read thirteen books in the past thirteen months (she was very impressed).

However, with the growth of technology in our daily lives, our younger generation has many options for entertainment. With so many demands on their attention and so little time in the day, recreational reading seems to fall to the wayside. As a hobby that offers more than just a way to pass the time, here are some tips to get your kids to read. If you would like some tips specifically for teens, this article is a good source for ideas.

Read more »