Family Math is a PBS SoCal initiative offering insights, tools, and support so parents and caregivers can confidently, joyfully and authentically explore math with children ages 2 to 5.
‘Tis the season for colder temperatures, sledding, hot cocoa (*and lemonade) and cozy reading sessions to learn math. You read right! With a few choice book selections, math comes alive and is a joy to read about together. Don’t think it’s possible? Here’s a carefully curated book list of wintry-mathematical board and picture books to assist learning at home in a seriously fun way.
“Ten On The Sled” (ages birth-4)
Written by Kim Norman and illustrated Liza Woodruff
Animals embark on a snowy adventure in this sing-along-friendly, silly board book by award-winning author Kim Norman. Little readers will learn how to count down from 10 to one as animals fall off an overcrowded sled.
“The Last Marshmallow” (ages birth-4)
Written and illustrated Grace Lin
Friends Oliva and Mei have three large marshmallows to share over their two cups of hot cocoa. With diverse, modern and minimalistic illustrations, this board book highlights the foundations of simple math while championing the message of sharing.
“Ten Sparkly Snowflakes” (ages birth-4)
Written by Tiger Tales and illustrated by Russell Julian
With the most precious of illustrations and some exploratory cut-outs, little readers will enjoy learning to count to 10 in this wintry woodland picture book centered around sparkly snowflakes.
“Snowman-Cold = Puddle: Spring Equations” (ages 4-8)
by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Micha Archer
A play on language and math, this picture book teaches the reader that the seasons and all of their wonders occur due to simple equations. For example, a snowman minus the cold temperature equals a puddle of water, and a stream plus snowmelt equals a racing river. Not only is this a smart, engaging picture book on math in nature, but it’s a work of art with stunning illustrations.
“365 Penguins” (ages 5-8)
Written by Jean-Luc Fromental and illustrated by Joëlle Jolivet
A delivery man delivers a single box to a family’s front door at 9 a.m. on New Year’s Day. Inside is Penguin number one with no explanation or information as to who the sender is, leaving a very confused family. Penguins begin to show up in boxes every day, adding to the confusion and also to the humor of what life is like taking care of such creatures. By the end of the year, there are 365 penguins accounted for. This playful picture book teaches addition and multiplication with the use of penguins and a charming storyline, while also introducing the topic of climate change. It’s utterly fantastic.
*“Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money” (ages 5-8)
Written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Pauline sees the snow falling from her front window and decides it’s a perfect day for a lemonade stand. To prepare, Pauline and her younger brother, John-John, sort their money from their piggy banks and head to the market to pick up all the necessary ingredients. Once the lemonade is made and the stand is set up, neighbors begin to walk by and purchase varying numbers of cups of lemonade at 50 cents a piece. As the day progresses and business slows down, Pauline and John-John decide to slash the cost to 25 cents per cup. This attracts more neighbors and requires them to adjust their money-math skills. By the end of the story they have enough money to purchase treats for one another (popsicles, no less) and the reader has had fun learning about counting quarters and dollars. A win-win all around.
“Sizing Up Winter” (ages 6-8)
Written by Lizann Flatt and illustrated by Ashley Barron
In this clever picture book about winter and the importance of measurement, animals of all sorts help teach mathematical terms including capacity, mass and measuring the length of time. There’s also a wonderful glossary in the back that provides fascinating details on each animal highlighted in the story, including the snowy owl, snow fleas, polar bears and a musk oxen.
More from PBS SoCal
- Beyond Christmas: A December Holiday Book List for Little Ones
- Alternative Ways for Kids to Connect with Loved Ones Over the Holidays
- Ask the Expert: How Do I Manage My Kids’ Holiday Expectations this Year?
- 5 Winter Activities to Warm up Kids’ Math Skills
Meg Raby is a speech language pathologist, children’s book author and reviewer of children’s books published by many well-known publishing houses including Chronicle Books, HarperCollins and Gibbs Smith. She runs two Instagram accounts, @bedtime.stories.forevermore, where she highlights only the best in children’s literature, and @mybrotherotto, where she advocates for autistic children and adults while championing the message that everyone should be included.