Not long ago I heard about the book, You Can Count on Monsters by Richard Evan Schwartz, on NPR. Schwartz is a Brown University math professor. The NPR story drew me to it, because the book was described as showing numbers the way good mathematicians might see them. I’ve been aware that mathematicians see, feel, or understand numbers in a way that I don’t and that this is at least part of the reason that they are so good with numbers. I thought, when hearing about this book, if any of this sense could be given to a child how different math might be, even if they weren’t born with this sense. Schwartz, it seems has written such a book. It covers numbers 1-100, with each number represented by a monster and a number tree. Children (and adults… I’m picking up a lot, as I’m rather “number blind”) can learn about counting, multiplication, and prime numbers. Katie will be four tomorrow and she’s had the book for about a week. Already she can open the book and instantly identify a prime number. I don’t think she knows what prime means, exactly, but she can identify them. I don’t know about you, but I find that impressive. I don’t know if she’s doing it from the monster, the lack of number tree, or what, but she’s doing it and I think it’s pretty cool. I highly recommend this book. Amazon.com recommends You Can Count on Monsters for children in grades 4-8. Personally, I think it’s appropriate for anyone quite a bit younger or older. The book is awesome!
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