Teaching Addition
with great children's books

If you're teaching addition to your children, check out these creative, educational picture books that make learning addition so much fun! These books make learning addition so fun! Memorizing addition facts is the easy part of teaching addition. What is often more difficult for children is formulating the math problem from a real world scenario and/or seeing how addition is used in everyday life.

That's where addition children's books come in handy. Teachers can use the books from this list to add a fun literacy component to their math addition lessons and parents can read these books with their kids to help reinforce what's taught in the classroom. We hope the following list is helpful to you, and if we've left off one of your favorite books for teaching addition, please let us know. We love book suggestions.

What's New at the Zoo? An Animal Adding Adventure

What's New at the Zoo addition picture book

A visit to the zoo provides lots of opportunities to practice simple addition! Each spread presents a detailed zoo scene paired with a rhyme and number equation that leads the reader to solve an addition problem. When we read it to the class, we put post it notes over the equations and have the kids try to formulate it on their own (using whiteboards), then remove the post its to reveal the answer.

Interest Level: Kindergarten - 1st Grade

One Is a Snail, Ten is a Crab

One Is a Snail Ten is a Crab addition picture book

This very cute book is based on the simple but clever premise of adding the number of feet different animals have, alone or together. Starting with a snail (1 foot), the text moves to a boy (2 feet), a boy and a snail (3 feet), a dog (4 feet)... Then, after 10, the numbers move up in 10s (up to 100). It's great for teaching counting (even skip counting) and teaching addition -- both +1 (different animals plus a snail) and +10 (different animals plus a crab). We agree with School Library Journal, who ended their review by saying "whether with those just beginning to count or children starting to multiply, this original and clever book will have wide appeal."  We LOVE it!  :)

Interest Level: Preschool - 2nd grade

Animals on Board
by Stuart Murphy

Animals on Board

A truck driver keeps seeing cars drive past with all sorts of animals on board and wonders where they are going. As they pass, she adds up the animals on each truck. Finally, the mystery destination is revealed...they're part of a carousel!  The story incorporates five single digit math problems, (3+2, 6+1, 9+0...), presented clearly enough for early addition lessons. This book is part of the spectacular MathStart series.  We love these books!

Interest Level:  Preschool - 2nd grade

The Mission of Addition
by Brian Cleary

The Mission of Addition

Kids love this cartoonish approach to teaching addition--full of playful rhymes and super silly illustrations. After defining what addition is, this book provides lots of different addition story problems. Aesthetically, we don't love the over-packed, cartoonish illustrations, but kids definitely do. And that's a great thing, this book is one of dozens in the popular Math is Categorical series.

Interest LevelKindergarten - 2nd grade

Quack and Count
by Keith Baker

Quack and Count adding story

A mama duck and her little ducklings experiences various little adventures in this picture book designed to teach simple early addition. On each spread, the seven siblings are grouped in different ways, showing the many ways to make seven. This is a "deceptively simple" book is great for teaching addition to young ones since "introduces youngsters to addition in such an organic and merry way that they may not even notice how much they are learning." (Publ. Weekly) Named a National Council of Teachers of English Notable Children's Book!

Interest Level: Preschool - 1st Grade

Mission Addition by Loreen Leedy

Miss Prime and her class are learning addition facts via a variety of scenarios, like taking a survey, figuring out the total on a lunch bill, and pretending to be detectives and adding up clues. In their review of the book, School Library Journal promises that "under Leedy's sure hand, Mission: Addition will not be Mission: Impossible." Indeed, this book makes learning addition facts fun! This format is full of great educational content on addition for kids, but is more appropriate for individual browsing than read-alouds, given all the little details in the book.

Interest Level: 1st grade - 3rd grade

Domino Addition by Lynette Long

This book works!  Domino Addition is a great resource for teaching addition for kids because it's packed full of visual representations and little tasks that get the reader engaged (ie: find all the dominoes with a given total; add the dots to find the total...) It isn't super creative, but it is a math workhorse!  Kirkus Reviews called it "a math game and counting book that takes advantage of the intuitive understanding of addition that children gain from a set of dominoes ... a well-designed book."

The 512 Ants on Sullivan Street by Carol Losi

Just as a little girl and an adult lay out a picnic, one ant sees them through a telescope and heads over for a bite to eat. Before long, two ants are on the scene, then four, then eight, and so on and so on. The number of ants keeps doubling and doubling until finally there are 512 ants at the feast. Readers will be amazed how quickly the number grows!  This Level 4 Hello Math Reader is great for teaching basic lessons in addition for kids, AND it's also helpful for teaching doubling (it clearly demonstrates how huge a number can get when it's doubled just nine times) AND multiplication (it's a great pick for early lessons on multiplication!) Be sure to check out the suggested math activities (more on that below). Here's a sample from the back:

Interest Level:  1st grade - 3rd grade

1+1=5 and Other Unlikely Additions by David LaRochelle

When does 1+1=3? When you add 1 unicorn and 1 goat, you get 3 horns. Cheerful, bright illustrations are paired with fun math riddles in this book that encourages children to creatively approach learning addition. We like this book, but we also TOTALLY agree with Booklist who said this book is "for students with a grasp of basic math [important caveat!]...the engaging situations will make kids count and think."  Kids who are just learning addition will find this book very confusing.  For this reason, this isn't one of our favorites for teaching early addition lessons.

Interest Level:  1st grade - 3rd grade

Five Silly Fishermen by Roberta Edwards

In this math early reader about addition for kids, five fishermen set off for a daily on the water. When they return to shore, a simple addition mistake leads them to believe they have lost one of their mates! Panic ensues until a little girl explains their addition error (they weren't counting themselves.)  Part of the popular Step Into Reading Math Reader series.The math lesson is understated and takes a backseat to the humor of the story, but your kids will get the lesson. Below are sample spreads. It's a simple story but so effective in illustrating this commonly made mistake that young kids often make!

Interest Level:  Preschool - 1st grade

365 Penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental

A family is baffled when their uncle, an ecologist, keeps sending them a penguin a day. They quickly become overwhelmed trying to care for the increasing penguins and finally use multiplication to organize, feed and care for them. It's a silly storyline, but the math lesson is a lot of fun and the retro-style, black-orange- and-blue illustrations are really unique! In their reviews of this book, School Library Journal points out that "the text provides endless opportunities for word problems" and Booklist says "this is a lively romp from the beginning to the end-- when the first polar bear arrives."

Interest Level:  1st grade - 3rd grade

Mall Mania by Stuart Murphy

The Parkside Mall is holding a "Mall Mania" day, and to celebrate, the 100th person to enter the mall will win a prize. It's the job of a group of friends to add up shoppers as they enter one of the four doors of the mall. Throughout the day, they share their numbers via walkie talkies, with each update using a range of addition strategies. As with all Math Start books, the last few pages of the book include ideas for extending the learning. 

Interest Level:  1st grade - 3rd grade

Math-terpieces: The Art of Problem Solving by Greg Tang

In this creative mix of art and math, Tang uses 12 famous works of art to help kids see the benefits of grouping. Each spread features a painting from a famous artist and a poem that poses a related math problem. For example, Degas' Dance Rehearsal is shown next to a page showing a number of ballet shoes. Readers are asked to find the sum by grouping by seven first ("Can you make 7 with these shoes? / Three clever ways earn rave reviews.")   Through the illustrations, readers can see that there are three distinct ways to logically, quickly group the shoes, rather than simple counting.

Interest Level:  1st grade - 3rd grade

Math for All Seasons: Mind-Stretching Math Riddles by Greg Tang

This title show the power of thinking creatively when solving addition problems. Illustrations and riddles depict the seasons and ask the reader to determine 'how many' using clues that encourage creative problem solving. Through these math puzzles, your class will 'get' that here's more than one way to solve a problem, making this title ideal to use early on when teaching addition-- early enough that students get used to thinking 'outside the box' rather than always falling back on memorization and formulas. Publisher's Weekly called it "a powerful path to math learning."

Interest Level:  1st grade - 3rd grade

The Sundae Scoop by Stuart Murphy

In this MathStart series book, readers see how many different combinations of ice-cream sundaes can be made with 6 different ingredients to choose from. In the story, a group of kids are putting on an ice-cream booth at their school picnic. In their booth, they have two types ice cream, two kinds of sauce, and two choices of toppings. The math lesson on combinations is solid, but what we really like about this book are the adorable illustrations by Cynthia Jabar. We love her style!

Interest Level:  1st grade - 3rd grade

Enjoy the books!

Betsy, Cindy, and Virginia
(the teachers/sisters behind this website)

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books for teaching addition