Books You Can Count On


Photo of child with counting book by John.For storytime last week, I read books about numbers and counting. I chose the theme because of the book Five Little Monkeys Play Hide and Seek by Eileen Christelow, which my three-year-old daughter absolutely loved. It’s my favorite of the Five Little Monkeys series (with Don’t Wake Up Mama as a close second), and it features the five monkeys tricking their babysitter by hiding in the one place she would never think to look–in bed. It also has lots of counting to different numbers, even up to 104. It could easily segue into a game of hide-and-seek, giving kids a chance to practice counting as high as they can.

Doggies by Sandra Boynton is a simple board book that involves counting dogs from 1 to 10, adding in a new doggie sound each time. Even though it’s meant for toddlers, it works well for almost any age because the kids love joining in on the various barks and whines.

My second favorite Pete the Cat book (after I Love My White Shoes) is Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin and James Dean. In this one Pete keeps losing his groovy buttons, but does he cry? Goodness no! The kids in my storytime liked the clever twist at the end, when Pete discovers he still has a button, even after all the ones on his shirt have rolled away. Always a hit.

Another book by Sandra Boynton, Hippos Go Berserk is a counting and rhyming book about a lonely hippo who invites forty-four friends to her house for a party. The best page is where “All the hippos go berserk!” This one could work both for counting and addition (adding up the different groups of hippos to find out how many are packed in the house).

Zero by Kathryn Otoshi is the sequel to Otoshi’s One, a powerful yet remarkably simple picture book about bullying, with the message that everyone counts. In Zero, the number zero worries that she has no value, until she realizes that if she works together with her friends, they can count to much higher numbers than they ever had before. This book would work well for a lesson on place value, but it's also a wonderful story about friendship and finding your place in a community.

Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd is a simple, vibrant counting story about a dog who gets covered in spots of different colors (orange juice, jam, mud) etc., throughout the day. The kids get lots of opportunities to count the dogs and name the colors. We ended the storytime with a craft in which the kids got to glue colored dots on a paper dog.

What are your favorite picture books about counting and numbers?

Photo credit: John


Author Bio:

Ashley Larsen is a children's librarian at the Pacifica-Sharp Park and Pacifica-Sanchez Libraries. To read more of her book recommendations and storytime ideas, visit her blog, The Loudest Librarian.

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