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Engagement,  Math

How to Use Math Stories to Improve Your Daily Instruction

Do you use math stories in your instruction?

We all know the importance of reading for our students. Obviously, teachers spend a lot of time reading in subjects like language arts, and even social studies – but math is probably the most challenging subject when it comes to integrating reading. However, it isn’t impossible! One of my favorite ways to integrate reading with math is through the use of math stories.

There are so many amazing math story books out there already, or you can always write your own! (Or have your students write some). If this is something that interests you, keep reading for some ideas for using math stories in your instruction, as well as a list of some of my favorites!

Ideas for Using Math Stories in your Classroom

1. Read them aloud to introduce a new unit.

One way I like to pique my students’ interest when we start on a new math concept is to read them a related math story! For example, when I taught third grade, I would kick off our multiplication unit with a read-aloud of Amanda Bean’s Amazing Dream. This story was a great intro to the unit because it explains why multiplication is important. It immediately helps students make real-world connections, creating a personal buy-in for them as we start a new unit.

math stories for kids

You can find a great book that will work for just about any math unit! I’m sharing a few of my favorites at the end of this post, but you can also just do a quick Google search to help you find what you’re looking for. Or, hop on over to the Make Math Meaningful Facebook group and ask for some suggestions!

2. Use as a math center.

If you regularly do math centers, a reading center is a great option! This can simply be a center where students independently read a math book, or it can be an activity center where students complete an activity as they read a book!

math stories

One book that makes a great math center is Grandfather Tang’s Story. This book tells a fun story using tangrams to make various pictures as the story is told. Put the book in a center along with some tangrams, and let your students have some fun with shapes!

3. Add them to your class library.

So simple, yet so effective! Any of these math stories can be added into your class library for students to read in their free time or check out for reading at home. Having a variety of topics in your class library is ideal so that you can reach all your students, and expose them to many different subjects!

If you organize your library by topic, create a section specifically for math books! This way, students can easily find them, and you can, too, for when you are planning a read-aloud for the class.

How to Expand Your Collection of Math Stories

If you’re just starting out with adding math books to your classroom library, then here are a few ideas for building your collection without breaking the bank:

  • Create an Amazon wish list with the books you want, and share with friends, family, and your students’ parents. Many teachers share a wish list on social media at the beginning of the school year so others can help buy them materials. Add a few books to yours to help you build that library! Don’t be afraid to share with your students’ parents, too, if they ask for it!
  • Set up a Donor’s Choose project. You can start a Donor’s Choose dedicated solely to stocking your classroom library! Categorize it as both literacy and math, so you double your chances of getting a match offer.
  • Shop secondhand bookstores and teacher buy/sell groups. Secondhand bookstores may have a limited selection, but if you can find what you’re looking for, you’ll typically get it for a great price! In addition, teacher buy/sell groups is another great way to get gently used supplies for a great price. Oftentimes, if teachers are retiring, they will sell all their classroom supplies in one of these groups (or advertise a garage sale there). Keep an eye out!
  • Check with your school’s math coach. If your school or district has a math specialist, check with them before you go out and buy anything! They may already have a stash of books you can check out that you didn’t know about!

Must-Have Books for Every Math Class

Here is a list of some of my personal favorite math stories! This list is not exhaustive – there are so many more out there, so make sure you do your own research so that you don’t miss out on the perfect addition to your classroom!

favorite math stories

What are your favorite math stories? Share in the comments!


Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. This means that, at no extra cost to you, I receive a small commission when you click through and make a purchase using one of my links.

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