The Best Picture Books for Second Grade Math
Did you know that reading picture books can help your child excel in math?! You can use books to introduce a new concept in a comfortable way or to review something they’ve learned already. Picture books can help deepen your child’s understanding of important math concepts and help connect them to the real world. Reading also makes math more fun and accessible for some kids. Here’s a list of books that are perfect for math concepts that are usually covered in second grade. All of these books are suggested in H4RL’s second grade math curriculum. If you’re looking for excellent math resources, visit our elementary curriculum page to learn more. I’m a licensed teacher and I designed our math curriculum to help you love teaching your kids math and ensure they have a solid foundation of mathematical understanding. It’s fun and effective! Check it out, and then go enjoy one of these books with your child!
The Grapes of Math by Greg Tang
Bold pictures present math as visual puzzles with real world objects. Readers are asked to look at the quantities in a way that makes it easier to find the total rather than counting by ones. Examining how the objects are arranged, one discovers that grouping them in different ways makes it easy to count by fives or tens or to make a quick multiplication problem. This is a great one to look at and discuss together, giving time for your child to think before you talk.
Even Steven and Odd Todd by Kathryn Kristaldi
Sometimes it isn’t easy to get along with people who approach things differently than we do. Steven enjoys keeping everything nice, neat, and even. In his life, things are in pairs or sets of four, six, etc. When his cousin Todd comes to visit, though, Steven is very uncomfortable with the odd numbers that arise everywhere. This book manages to make the mathematical concepts of odd and even into a cute story about differences in people.
Each Orange Had Eight Slices by Paul Giganti
Math in the real world on every page! Repeated addition and multiplication are illustrated with bright colors. Each example has two math steps to it. For example, there are four trees, that each have three nests, which each contain two eggs. I think it’s brilliant how much math they’ve packed very simply into just a few pages.
Arctic Fives Arrive by Elinor Pinzces
A cute way to practice counting by fives. In this rhyming story, five of each type of animal arrive and pile onto an iceberg. It gets rather crowded! The text guides the reader through skip counting up, and then the animals enjoy a view of the northern lights. We count back down by fives as the animals leave at the end.
Shark Swimathon by Stuart J. Murphy
The shark swim team wants to go to camp, but in order to get to go they must swim 75 laps. Throughout the book, their coach subtracts the number of laps they swim each day from the amount of laps remaining, until they reach zero – and their goal! Read the directions here to play a similar game.
The Good Neighbors Store an Award by Mark Ramsay
This book is designed to teach addition with regrouping. It’s written about mice, so their cheesy reward even looks like base ten blocks! The good neighbors work together to figure out how to store all of the cheese they have been awarded.
The Good Neighbors’ Cheese Feast by Dan Harper
Oh, no! Some of the neighbors don’t have enough cheese to make their recipes for the cheese feast. Subtraction with regrouping comes to the rescue as they figure out how to prepare all of the dishes for their celebration.
If the Shoe Fits by Jennifer Dussling
This cute story about mice turning a shoe into a clubhouse introduces some simple measurement concepts. First, the two mice try to measure with their feet, but their feet are different sizes so their measurements are not the same. Then, they try a cheese stick (they are mice, after all). That works fine, until someone takes a bite of the cheese stick. Finally, they use paperclips, and they’re able to determine that the shoe will fit in their playroom.
How Big is a Foot by Rolf Myller
The king decides to have a bed made for the queen in this story. Unfortunately, when he uses his foot to measure the queen and the builder uses his own foot to measure the materials, it doesn’t end up being a good fit. It’s easy to see the need for standard units of measurement in this book. Since it’s about a king and queen, you may want to enjoy listening to it read with an English accent by Cindy Cartwright. She does a wonderful job.
Keep Your Distance by Gail Herman
The sisters in this story aren’t getting along very well, but don’t worry, at the end they realize that they wouldn’t want to be separated! Along the way, they talk about measurements in inches, feet, yards, and miles. Readers will gain an appreciation for the sizes of these measurements and see a list of conversions at the end of the book.
Inch Worm and a Half by Elinor Pinzces
An adorable inch worm happily measures things around her, until she runs into a problem. What if something can’t exactly be measured in full inches? Some shorter little friends join in the measuring fun, using half, third, and quarter inch lengths. What a fun way to introduce simple fractions of a whole in the context of measurement!
Twelve Snails to One Lizard by Susan Hightower
This is a funny one! The beaver and the frog try to measure with different animals as their units, until they finally realize that it’s a lot easier to use a yardstick. Inches, feet, and yards are introduced.
How Tall? Wacky Ways to Compare Height by Mark Weakland
Rhyming text makes this book a lot of fun. Compare the height of various objects by lining smaller objects up as units until they equal the larger object. Children will relate as the book uses familiar things such as giraffes, dolls, and penguins.
How Tall, How Short, How Far Away by David Adler
How did they measure in Ancient Egypt? What about in Rome? Find out and try it yourself in this book. Readers will also learn about the two systems of measurement used in the United States today, the metric system and the customary system. Choosing appropriate units for measurements of various sizes is explored as well.
Eating Fractions by Bruce McMillan
This book introduces fractions in a very simple way. There are few words, and the photos are from a couple decades ago! It’s still great for demonstrating halves, thirds, and fourths of a whole. The fractions are shown as numbers, words, drawings, and as parts adding up to a whole.
The Lion’s Share by Matthew McElligott
With the feel of a folk tale, this story is both a lesson in fractions and sharing. Each animals takes half of the lion’s cake as it is passed around the table, so the first animal gets half, the second gets a fourth, and so on. This helps to illustrate that one half can mean different amounts depending on the size of the whole from which it is cut. At the end of the book, each fraction is shown as a part of the whole cake.
Jump, Kangaroo, Jump! by Stuart J. Murphy
Fractions aren’t always parts of one whole object. They can also be one big group divided into smaller, equal groups. That’s what happens in this book as the animals are divided into teams for various competitions. Readers see one half, one fourth, and other fractions in a different way in this cute story. Suggested math activities to go along with the book can be found on the author’s page here.
Whole-y Cow! Fractions are Fun by Taryn Souders
What fraction of the spots on the cow are red? This book presents sets and asks the reader to identify what fractions meet certain criteria. It’s important that kids understand that fractions are a part of the whole set, so while in this case our numerator would be the number of red spots, our denominator would be the total number of spots, not just the number of blue spots. There are plenty of opportunities to practice naming fractional amounts in this book.
Game Time by Stuart J. Murphy
Centered around a soccer game, this story incorporates units of time. The game is one week away, then one day away, then an hour away. During the game, time is counted in minutes. Throughout the book, the illustrations represent these times on calendars and clocks. The author has listed a few related activities on his site.
Just a Second by Steve Jenkins
This book is packed full of nature facts while helping kids understand more about just how long units of time really are. Readers will learn how many times different types of birds beat their wings in a second, how far various animals can travel in one second, what happens in one minute or one hour, a day, week, month, or year. A brief history of these units is also shared. The book even explores what can happen in less than a second. It’s a fascinating look at time!
I.Q, It’s Time by Mary Ann Fraser
A little mouse lives in the classroom, but really wants to be a student, not a pet. As the school day progresses, times to the quarter hour are mentioned and shown on clocks. The mouse constructs his own clock that shows the hours and minutes around the edges. Children will enjoy this cute story and will learn a lot by constructing their own clock just like I.Q.’s!
The Great Graph Contest by Loreen Leedy
This book explores various types of graphs and the questions they can be used to answer. Colorful, busy illustrations place them right into the action of the story.
Looking for math curriculum that you and your child will love? Feel confident that your child has a solid understanding of math concepts with H4RL’s resources!
At H4RL, you’ll find educational resources to add wonder and delight to your homeschooling journey. Jill, a homeschool mom and licensed teacher, has created Enhanced Read-alouds that provide mini unit studies based on high-quality children’s books. Related activities for reading, writing, math, science, art, and more are woven into learning journeys that your family will love. Jill has also created a full math curriculum (kindergarten, first, and second grades are available as of June, 2023) that shows you how to teach your child all essential math concepts in fun, hands-on ways. Learn more on our elementary curriculum page!