I love concept books and constantly am on the hunt for new ones in my local library. My all time favorites are all written by Tana Hoban. I think she’s phenomenal and her books are well loved in my house. Let’s Count is a particular favorite. It’s 48 pages and covers the numbers 1-15, 20, 30, etc., to 100. She’s also written the book, Count and See. This book is 40 pages and follows the same format as Let’s Count but showcases the numbers as numerals, words, and dots. Along with the numbers, she presents the reader with visually stunning photographs (which is what she’s amazing at) in black and white of street scenes that represent the number.
As a parent, (and homeschooler) I look for counting books that are clear and themed. For example, in our house we have two great books that showcase both clarity and theme.
The first is George Lyon’s Counting on the Woods. It’s 32 pages and uses colored photos of plants and animals (all identified in captions) to represent the numbers 1-10. This book has sparked countless lessons in science, geography, history, math, art, language arts, etc.
The second is Arlene Alda’s 1 2 3: What Do You See? It’s also 32 pages and focuses attention on the shape of the number, captured in photos of natural and everyday objects. My personal favorite is the wisp of curly hair representing the number 6. This book has inspired a shift of thinking in my kids about the ordinary stuff that surrounds us. They’re constantly pointing out objects that represent numbers because of the influence of this wonderful book.
One more book I’d like to share is Lois Ehlert’s Fish Eyes: A Book You Can Count On. It is 40 pages and not a photography book-- that’s one reason why I love it. It takes the premise of the author being a fish and explores counting by describing what she’d see if she swam far into the ocean. What sets this book apart is that it introduces the concept (and language) of addition. On each page the author states that the number of fish seen, “plus me” makes___ (the next number). We have used this book to inspire art, science, language arts, cooking, and even physical education lessons.
I’m also fascinated by counting books that offer exotic themes like other languages or music. I LOVE the book by Muriel Feelings Moja Means One, Swahili Counting. It is 32 pages and full of amazing possibilities. This book has opened up conversations about African life, history, geography, art, and whole host of other activities. I also love the book Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss. It is also 32 pages and opens the door to music through counting. The style of this book is really what does it for me. It has this organic—almost breeze-like. Add in the stunning illustrations and the whole book jumps to life.