Posted by: degarcia | April 17, 2009

Integrating Math and Literature

Literature can be a great resource when teaching mathematics. Integrating literature and math can both teach students literacy and motivate them to stay engaged during math time.

“Some suggest that the literature connection motivates students (Usnick & McCarthy, 1998), provokes interest (Welchman-Tischler, 1992), helps students connect mathematical ideas to their personal experiences (Murphy, 2000), accommodates children with different learning styles (Murphy, 2000), promotes critical thinking (Murphy, 2000), or provides a context for using mathematics to solve problems (Jacobs & Rak, 1997; Melser & Leitze, 1999).”

Ways to use Children’s Literature in Teaching Mathematics

  1. “To provide a context or model for an activity with mathematical content.
  2. To introduce manipulatives that will be used in varied ways (not necessarily as in the story).
  3. To inspire a creative mathematics experience for children.
  4. To pose an interesting problem.
  5. To prepare for a mathematics concept or skill.
  6. To develop or explain a mathematics concept or skill.
  7. To review a mathematics concept or skill.”

List by Welchman-Tischler (1992)

Integration Ideas

Many types of literature can be used to integrate with math such as picture books, short stories, novels, folktales, poetry, songs, news articles, and more! Some books explicitly present problems in the context of the reading but others are implicit and will require some creativity. Here are some compiled lists:

Picture Books

· Anno’s Counting Book by Mitsumasa Anno

· Anno’s Counting House by Mitsumasa Anno

· Anno’s Mysterious Multiplying Jar by Mitsumasa Anno

· The Napping House by Audrey and Don Wood

· One Monkey Too Many by Jackie French Koller and Lynn Munsinger

· How Much is A Million? by David M. Schwartz

· A Million Dots by Andrew Clements

· The Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar Fractions Book by Jerry Pallotta

· The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns

· Sir Cumference and the Great Knight of Angleland by Cindy Neuschwander

· Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Crone by Cindy Neuschwander

· Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi by Cindy Neuschwander

· The Grapes of Math by Gregory Tang – and other books by Greg Tang

· Round Trip by Ann Jonas

· Eight Hands Round by Ann Whitford Paul



· Goldilocks and the Three Bears

· The Three Little Pigs

· Three Billy Goats Gruff

· Rapunzel  (hair length, time for hair growth)


· Marvelous Math: A Book of Poems by Lee Bennett Hopkins

· Math Poetry Book: Linking Language and Math in a Fresh Way by Betsy Franco


A list of songs that can be integrated with math can be found at the following website:

More Information:

Education World




Bahr L. Damon & de Garcia A. Lisa, Elementary Mathematics Is Anything but Elementary 2010



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