The Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge is a celebration of children’s informational texts hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy.
When I was in eighth grade, my math teacher matter-of-factly informed me that I had absolutely no talent for math, and that I should consider dropping the subject as soon as possible. Add to this the fact that girls already typically lack self-confidence in math, and you can begin to understand where my longstanding fear of the subject stems from. To this day, I cannot calculate the tip on a restaurant bill without breaking out in a cold sweat.
The Big Fat Notebook – Math Edition attempts to combat math-phobia at the source by creating a clearly laid out, visually attractive, kid-friendly guide to middle school math.
Will this one book turn a math-averse grade schooler into a mathlete? I don’t know about that – it is a book and not a miracle worker after all. But this is definitely the most appealing, attractive, accessible kids math book I’ve come across in quite a while.
Look at that colour-coding! Every concept is clearly and carefully explained in accessible, reader-friendly language, and is accompanied by practical, relatable examples to reinforce the concept. At the same time, the writing doesn’t ever feel condescending or patronizing – the reader is never made to feel like a dummy, which is a refreshing sensation for math failures like me…
The use of colours, illustrations and diagrams is perfect for visual learners, and for those of us who struggle to reconcile ourselves with abstract concepts (as far as I’m concerned, all numbers are irrational…).
Again, do I think this is the only book a middle school math student will ever need? Nope – for one thing, this is an American title, and is designed to align with the American Common Core curriculum, which differs from curriculums in Canada and elsewhere. Also – the more a student reads, the more they learn, and different students learn in different ways and will connect with different teaching approaches. Learning isn’t a one-size-fits-all process, and no one book will work for all learners.
Still, this is an exciting, engaging approach to math education that takes some of the terror out of the subject, and uses visual cues to help make complex concepts relatable and demystified. Definitely worth taking a look at if you work with young learners, or are a long-time mathphobe like yours truly…