Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Recommended Reading

From the always entertaining Speed Bump cartoon.

I'm trying to develop a recommended reading list for my students. Not comprehensive, like for a library, but the place to start, first books to buy, etc. I thought with the carnival coming up, it might be a good time to beg suggestions, either for categories or books. Links lead to the best previews I could find, mostly Google Books.

Please leave your suggestions in the comments and I'll incorporate them and make note in the post. Books I've read I'll add to the main list, and the others I'll list below. Sue VanHattum (Math Mama Writes...) immediately added a bunch, and has a post on this topic, too.

The List
updated April 2010

Picture Books
Math Curse, Lane and Scieska: just the best math book ever written.
Anno's Mysterious Multiplying Jar, or anything by Mitsumasa Anno. Just charming books, and lovely besides.
Spaghetti and Meatballs For All, Marilyn Burns: my favorite of the eplicitly mathematical genre. Tang and Murphy have their place but Burns is the queen of the genre. Princess - Elinor Pinczes.

Of course there are many possible for this category. See a School Library Journal article about this. My colleague Char Beckmann has (co-)written several neat articles in Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School on using these. And Teaching Children Mathematics frequently has articles on the topic.

Math Fiction
The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norman Juster
The Man Who Counted, by Malba Tahan
Flatland, by Edwin Abbott (full text!)
The Number Devil, by Hans Magnus Enzensberger
Dec 2010: Zachary Shiner at Irrational Cube has a nice list going for these.

Elementary Math Teaching
Making Sense: Teaching and Learning Mathematics with Understanding, Fennema, Carpenter, Hiebert, Fuson, et al.
Young Mathematicians at Work: Constructing Number Sense, Addition, and Subtraction, Fosnot and Dolk

Secondary Math Teaching
The Teaching Gap, Stigler and Hiebert

Math Teaching, General
What’s Math Got to Do With It? by Jo Boaler, motivates teaching significant mathematics and advises on teaching methodology, relating it to research.
A Mathematician's Lament: How School Cheats Us Out of Our Most Fascinating and Imaginitive Life Form, Paul Lockhart.  Original essay available from Keith Devlin at the MAA.

Math Ed Research
Knowing and teaching elementary mathematics,
Liping Ma
Experiencing school mathematics: traditional and reform approaches
, Jo Boaler
Adding it up: helping children learn mathematics
, Kilpatrick, Swafford, Findell
Mathematical Problem Solving by Alan Schoenfeld. Quite the academic tome, it's best to get from libraries. However Schoenfeld has a lot of the relevant materials available at his website.

Literacy Learning
Mosaic of Thought, 2nd ed., Keene and Zimmerman
To Understand, Keene
Teaching with Intention, Miller
The Whole Story, Brian Cambourne (out of print but still available used). If not reading the book, please at least read my favorite article on teaching. (Generously made freely available by The Reading Teacher.)

Thanks for any ideas you have. And I hope you maybe found one new book in the bunch, at least!

Reader Additions
Picture/Young Reader
Quack and Count by Keith Baker:board book
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, by Jean Lee Latham: fictionalized account of the 19th century life of Nathaniel Bowditch, actual author of the American Practical Navigator
How Hungry Are You?, by Donna Jo Napoli and Richard Tchen: sharing division context
Number Stories of Long Ago by David Eugene Smith (full text!)

Hannah, Divided by Adele Griffin: story of a twice exceptional student
The Art and Craft of Problem-Solving, by Paul Zeitz 
Math Power: How to Help Your Child Love Math, Even If You Don't, by Patricia Kenschaft
Math: An American Phobia, by Marilyn Burns
The Art of Problem Posing, by Stephen Brown
What's Happening in Math Class? (2 volumes) edited by Deb Schifter
Math for Smarty Pants and The I Hate Math Book by Marilyn Burns
Reconstructing Mathematics Education by Schifter and Fosnot (immediately on my wishlist!)

About Math 
Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture by Apostolos Doxiadis:lots of (slightly twisted) history of math.
The Cat in Numberland by Ivar Ekeland: story of the cat who lives in the Hotel Infinity
Mathematics: A Human Endeavor by Harold Jacobs: delightful textbook
The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan by Robert Kanigel: biography
Chances Are: Adventures in Probability by Michael and Ellen Kaplan: History, philosophy, science, and statistics all come together
Surreal Numbers by Donald Knuth: higher math based on a Conway problem
Euclid in the Rainforest by Joseph Mazur: Logic, infinity and probability
Powers of Ten, by Philip and Phylis Morrison: famous series of photographs/images

Mindstorms, by Seymour Papert
Out of the Labyrinth: Setting Mathematics Free by Robert and Ellen Kaplan
Anything by Martin Gardner


  1. I've mentioned lots of books I love over at my blog. I wrote 'A Dozen Delectable Math Books' back in June. That overlaps your list some. I'll send you a longer list by email.

  2. John, that full text pdf button isn't working for me. I'd love to read the article you mention (from The Reading Teacher). Can you email me?


  3. A Mathematician's Lament! A must read for all. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/07/rock-groups/
    I'm actually hoping to read the other one soon too.

  4. Great suggestion, teachingninja. We read that as a department and it started a pretty good discussion. Keith Devlin posted Lockhart's original essay, for those who want to try it: http://www.maa.org/devlin/LockhartsLament.pdf.

  5. I've very much enjoyed the Brown Paper School Books The I Hate Mathematics Book and Math for Smarty Pants. Also, Martin Gardner's books are a good source of enrichment material for kids who love puzzles.