It is very difficult to find living math books that present complex topics in an accessible way. One math author whose books we have learned to love is Mitsumasa Anno. Anno believes “that mathematics is more than merely manipulating numbers, it is a way of thinking, and that it has bearing on all scholastic subjects, indeed on all forms of creative thought.” Children throughout the world have enjoyed his award-winning picture books.
We regularly borrow Anno’s books from the library and indulge ourselves. When very young, my children enjoyed the whimsical illustrations while the older children are intrigued by the puzzles and concepts. As a math-loving mom, I’m delighted at the way advanced concepts such functions or factorials are presented. Children comprehend much more than they are given credit for; having enjoyed a concept with Anno, they will be able to understand it so much better when it is introduced in math lessons.
Anno’s many math books include:
Anno’s Math Games
In four pictorial chapters of games and puzzles, Anno presents the ideas of
- same and different
- combining and assembling
- numbers, ordering and coordinate systems
- more and less.
In an afterword, Anno discusses the concepts presented in each chapter. Our children have always loved tall Kriss and tubby Kross as they work, ponder, and experiment.
Anno’s Math Games 2
Full of mathematical ideas, this is a fascinating book of games for children. Anno’s whimsical drawings illustrate ideas such as
- cause and effect (functions)
- differences and similarities
- dots and pixels
- counting and tabulation
- volume and units.
Anno’s Math Games 3
This book was every bit as good as the others, but I cannot tell you the details since it is no longer available in our library.
Anno’s Magic Seeds
An old man gave Jack 2 large golden seeds. “These are magic,” he said. “Bake one seed in the oven until it is red and then eat it. You will not be hungry again for a whole year.” The other seed was to be planted and would produce two more seeds. How Jack fared with his seeds, the big decision he made, and what happened next is a fascinating story driven by math, but representing much of history as well. While children can understand it, adults can continue to ponder it for a long time.
Anno’s Counting Book
With a growing column of cubes on the left side of the page, and a large number on the right, Anno shows the development of a small village. On each successive page, spread throughout the year, the village increases by one child, one building, and one tree. Each picture is full of small stories such as building a railroad, photographing a wedding, or fishing, as well as many examples of the number. There are opportunities for adding, such as when three of the geese on the number 4 page lag far behind the other one, and for thinking about sets, and other concepts. Though it is a counting book, it is also much more.
Anno’s Mysterious Multiplying Jar
Inside the jar there was water, and there seemed to be just enough wind to set the water rippling…and suddenly we are inside the jar, on a sea, sailing toward 1 island. On it there are 2 countries. Fascinating pictures tell the story of factorials in the first half of the book, and Anno explains them explicitly in the second half.
Besides math books, Anno has also created many other amazing volumes, and we’ve enjoyed each one we’ve seen.
Disclosure: As always, I am not compensated for my reviews and I give my own honest opinions.