The Best Picture Books for First 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 first grade. All of these books are suggested in H4RL’s first 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!

Penguin Place Value by Kathleen Stone

Fish that the penguins catch is stored in boxes of ten and on platters of ones. Using manipulatives with this story such as paper fish and small boxes or base ten blocks can help kinesthetic learners connect with the concept of place value. Practice writing the numbers for various amounts of fish.

Subtraction Action by Loreen Leedy

The animals in this book introduce the concept of subtraction, related math terms, and real life situations in which subtraction is used.

A Fair Bear Share by Stuart J. Murphy

In this adorable story about a family of bears, two-digit numbers are displayed as tens and ones. Ten ones are regrouped as a ten, and the numbers are added together. There is a lot of math to be explored here! Some suggested activities from the author can be found here.

How Long? Wacky Ways to Compare Length by Jessica Gunderson

Great illustrations make this book a lot of fun. It demonstrates lining objects up end-to-end along another, larger object, in order to see how many of the smaller object are needed to equal one of the larger object. This is a fantastic introduction to nonstandard measurement (not using units such as inches or centimeters, but instead using fingers, pretzel sticks, etc.). On a simpler level, it will get kids thinking about the concepts of longer and shorter, comparing lengths and thinking proportionately (how many of these do I need to make one or more of those?).

Super Sand Castle Saturday by Stuart J. Murphy

Tallest, longest, and deepest – it’s a contest at the beach! This book uses both nonstandard (shovels) and standard (inches) measurements to compare sand castles. It addresses the error of using units of different sizes; if you’re shovel is longer than mine, then we can’t really compare our castles by measuring with the two different shovels. While objects vary in size, though, inches are always the same, so we can use a ruler to measure and compare various objects. A great real-world, practical look at measurement. The author has included a few related activity suggestions on his site.

The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle

The story of this ladybug unfolds on the hour as each hour of the day goes by. In the book, the times are shown on an analog clock. You can make the connection between this and a digital clock by writing each time as the hour and minutes with a colon between them as well.

Telling Time with Big Mama Cat by Dan Harper

In this charming book, a cat tells us about her day. I like that on each page, the time is shown on a clock in the home, as part of the illustration, rather than just a clock face drawn on the page. Most of the times are on the hour, but some are at the half hour or even at 5- or 15-minute increments. As mentioned with the previous book, writing the times as they would be seen on a digital clock would be a good extension.

A Second is a Hiccup by Hazel Hutchins and Kady MacDonald Denton

The sweet, rhyming text in this book gives real life, relatable examples of things that take a second, a minute, an hour, a day, a week, a month, and a year. This is an excellent way to help children become more familiar with these abstract concepts.

The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins

The cookies are ready, and two kids divide them equally. Then the doorbell rings, and they redistribute them among four children. Then the doorbell rings again! Have some cookies ready and divide them between the same number of plates as there are children at the table in the book as you read the story. Everyone is disappointed when the doorbell rings and each child already has only one cookie. What should they do? Luckily, it’s grandma with more cookies!

Looking for a math curriculum that you and your child will love? H4RL’s math lessons use a variety of fun activities to build a solid foundation of mathematical understanding.

In addition to math, you’ll find resources for poetry, reading, calendar time, and more. Enhanced read-alouds provide ideas for making excellent picture books even more fun and educational. You can access it all with a membership, and if you order printed math books you get a discount every month. Visit our elementary curriculum page to learn more!

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