Engaging Middle School Math Students Through Literature
Tess loves math because it’s the one subject she can trust—there’s always just one right answer, and it never changes. But then she starts algebra and is introduced to those pesky and mysterious variables, which seem to be everywhere in eighth grade.
In Do the Math: Secrets, Lies, and Algebra by Wendy Lichtman, Tess
grapples with algebra, variables and middle school issues like boyfriends, cheating on tests and friendship. This is an engaging book for middle school students…. with a mathematically themed twist. For all the people in the world who asked “when will I ever use this in ‘real life’ when in math class… this book has the answers! Charming, connected, and a middle-schooler’s ideal book!
Middle School Math
Apparently, math can be fun! Not something all middle school students can appreciate at the time.
In math class, many students concentrate not on math but on avoiding eye contact with the teacher so as to limit the chances of being called upon. Books with math concepts woven into the storylines help promote both mathematical thinking and math confidence….. that all-important realization that You.Are.Not.Alone.
Mathical Book Prizes
The Mathical Book Prize is an annual award for fiction and nonfiction books that inspire children of all ages to see math in the world around them. Mathical titles are promoted nationally among librarians, K-12 teachers, parents, mathematicians, early childhood educators and science museums.
This blog post is the third of four highlighting quality mathematical literature for children. The books featured in this post are of interest to middle school students (grades 6 – 8).
The final blog post will feature literature of interest for students in grades 9 – 12.
A list and poster of winning and honor books for Grades Pre-K through 12 can be found at
Do you have a favorite math-themed book? Please share!
Three More Mathical Books for Grades 6 – 8
All of the Above by Shelley Pearsall
Based on a true story, All of the Above is the delightful and suspenseful story of four inner city students and their quest to build the world’s largest tetrahedron. Weaving
together the different personal stories of the kids, their teacher, and the community that surrounds them,
award-winning author Shelley Pearsall has written a vividly engaging story about the math, life and good-tasting barbecue. Filled with unexpected humor, poignant characters and quiet brilliance, All of the Above is a surprising gem.
Mathemagic! Number Tricks by Lynda Colgan
An introduction to the magic of math that will engage even the most math-reluctant kid. Mathakazam! With this book, math becomes magic for kids! The secrets revealed in Mathemagic will have kids outwitting everyone with their superior computational skills, mystifying friends by plucking secret numbers from their minds and learning the mathematical secrets of the ancients. The book includes step-by-step instructions and explanations of how and why these number tricks work. As kids work their way through each trick, they will learn math concepts including calculation, multiplication, prime factors, the Nine Principal, the Binary Number System and more.
Ruby Redfort: Feel the Fear by Lauren Child
Ruby Redfort is a 13-year-old undercover agent, genius code-cracker, and brilliant detective who works for Spectrum, a secret crime-busting organization. Actual puzzles and codes created by a noted mathematician make this novel a good choice! Notes on Braille, Parkour, and the ability to move around one’s environment without limitations are an added touch and help create a story of great interest for students!