Using Children’s Literature to Reinforce Counting



Entering their formal years of school with an understanding of what numbers are and how they are used can help set the foundation for success in mathematics. One of the easiest ways to get our young kids comfortable with numbers is to simply count stuff with them. Count the number of stairs going up, count the number of forks at the dinner table, count the number of apple slices on each plate. But sometimes we get so busy that we forget to look for those opportunities during the day. So a great way to get in some counting is right before bed when you pull out those bedtime stories. And the good news is, there are a lot of great books that support a child’s beginning counting experiences. Here are four of my favorites:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle: True to his creative style, Carle has made this a fun book to read. Not simply because it has a good counting “plot”, but because the pages vary in size and there are even holes in some of them! Kids love to turn these pages as they count all the yummy things the very hungry caterpillar ate on his way to becoming a very beautiful butterfly. (Note: Carle writes that the caterpillar built a cocoon. And that would be fine if the caterpillar turned into a moth. But it turns into a butterfly and a butterfly emerges from a chrysalis.)

One is a Snail Ten is a Crab by April Pulley Sayre and Jeff Sayre: This fun book takes place at the beach and starts off counting feet using combinations of snails, people, dogs, insects and crabs. It’s a wonderful foundation for later addition with equations (4 dog feet + 2 people feet = 6 feet all together). And the fun illustrations provide great practice for counting on and skip counting by 10s.

Each Orange Has 8 Slices by Paul Giganti, Jr: This book is filled with colorful 2-page spreads that offer a variety of fun objects to count. Each spread prompts kids with three counting questions. Since many of the counting objects are grouped in equal sets, kids who are ready can begin skip counting by different numbers. The book ends with a fun riddle that requires some very careful counting…or maybe careful reading.

Ten Apples Up On Top by Theo. LeSieg: This is my absolute favorite counting book because it’s the one I grew up with! Tattered and torn, I still love to open it and see if the three friends can still balance all those apples. Filled with super simple, yet appealing illustrations, this book is set to rhyme making it a lot of fun to read.

Kids Money & Math

Karyn is co-founder of Math Unity LLC, an educational company specializing in elementary mathematics. She has a BA in Child Development, a Masters of Arts in Education with a Specialization in Elementary Mathematics and a multiple subjects teaching credential. Her passion is designing real-world lessons that resonate with kids and their interests. Karyn is the creator of Nifty Numbers, Math Medley, Gellin' with Geometry and Play and Take Family Math Night kits. These kits were designed to build strong family-school partnerships and get parents involved in fun and engaging math activities with their children. To find out more, visit