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March Madness: Basketball Books

by Miriam Downey 25. March 2014 07:13

It is March Madness, and it is especially mad in Michigan where both major basketball teams (Michigan and Michigan State) have advanced to the Sweet 16. My 14-year-old grandson is a rabid Michigan State fan, and we have been speculating about the odds of both Michigan teams advancing to the final four. What if they played each other at the finals? Aah, the sweetness of that!

If you follow this blog, you know that my family is very large, and one of our best collective memories was the Final Four in 2010 when three of the four teams were important to our family. One son went to Butler; several had gone to Michigan State; and two were teaching at West Virginia. We all gathered on the night of the games, and the grandchildren had t-shirts for all three teams that they kept changing as the evening wore on. Our Butler son came out on top that night only to lose to Duke in the finals. So much fun!

Well, enough of my family stories. Here is a list of great basketball books for the sports fans in your family--both girls and boys. I have grouped them by picture books, chapter books, and non-fiction. All are available at the library or bookstore.

Picture Books

Hoops by Robert Burleigh. Captures the game with poetry and great illustrations. (K-6)

Swish! by bill Martin Jr. A girls' basketball tournament in words and pictures. (k-6)

Think Big by Nancy Carlson. Frog Vinny wants to be a basketball player. (k-2)

Cinder-Elly by Frances Minters. A rap fairy tale about a basketball game. (k-2)

Arthur and the Pen-Pal Playoff by Stephen Krensky. Arthur brags about his basketball ability. (k-2)

Around the World by John Coy. Street basketball around the world. (k-8)

Chapter Books and Novels

The Sabbath Garden by Patricia Greene. A young basketball star struggles to overcome her tough African-American neighborhood. (grades 7-12)

The Million-Dollar Shot by Dan Gutman. Eddie gets a chance to throw a basket at the NBA finals. (grades 4-6)

Jester at the Back Court by Tommy Hallowell. Part of the Alden All-Stars series of sports novels. (grades 4-6)

Angel Park Hoop Stars series by Dean Hughes. Basketball buffs will love this series. (grades 3-6)

Slam! by Walter Dean Myers. A star basketball player faces challenges at a new high school. (grades 7-12)


The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons. Everything you wanted to know about basketball. (grades 4-12)

Basketball: Startling Stories behind the Records by Jim Benagh.  Lots of basketball trivia. (grades 4-12)

Basketball: A Slammin' Jammin' Guide to Super Hoops! by Richard Brenner. A guide to playing basketball, with lots of basic skills for both girls and boys. (grades 4-6)

Fundamental Basketball by Jim Klingzing. Lots of photographs to explain basketball. (grades 2-6)

Michael Jordan by Sean Dolan. No list of basketball books is complete without a book about Michael Jordan. (grades 4-6)

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Fun with Math

by Miriam Downey 13. March 2014 13:16

The children in my family decided to play a trick on me while I was on vacation in February. They found a box of little ducks I had put away--about 70 ducks in all. They hid the ducks all over the house. I have been finding them ever since I got home. I found one today on top of the door bell. Well, the games have continued because my three-year-old granddaughter thinks it is really funny to hide them again and again. So, we have played all kinds of counting games with them. The ducks have three kinds of necklaces on them, and her favorite game is to find four ducks that have the same necklaces and then find one that has a different necklace. Then we sing: "One of these things is not like the other. One of these things doesn't belong. Can you guess which one is not like the other? By the time I finish this song."


Additionally (no pun intended), I brought home a lot of shells from the beach. She has spent a lot of time sorting the shells into categories: big shells; little shells; shells with holes in them; big, bigger, biggest; small, smaller, smallest; groups of three; groups of four. You get the idea.

The point of all this is that mathematics is all around us, and children love math games. From simple sorting games, like those I have just described, to carpentry, grocery shopping, and cookie baking, children are learning math.

I came upon a list of mathematically-themed books that children love, and I picked out about 20 of my favorites to include in today's blog posting. The rest can be found here. All are available at the library or bookstore. I have also included some great elementary school math websites at the end of the book list. Happy counting.

Preschool and Kindergarten Books

The Button Box by Reid. Grandma's button box contains treasures and activities.

A Caribbean Counting Book by Charles and Arenson. Counting rhymes from the Caribbean.

The Doorbell Rang by Hutchins. A common problem about fair sharing.

From One to One Hunderd by Sloat. Counts to ten and then counts by ten.

Grandfather Tang's Story: A Tale Told with Tangrams by Tompert. Geometric shapes and patterns.

The Icky Bug Counting Book by Pallotta. Bugs, numbers, and alphabet combined.

Grades 1-3

Math Curse by Scieszka and Smith. The main character in the book thinks of everything in life as a math problem.

The M & M Counting Book by McGrath. What could be better? M & Ms and counting

How Big is a Foot? by Myller. How does measurement relate to the real world?

The Eleventh Hour by Base. Lots of visual clues and hidden messages.

A Chair for My Mother by Williams. Saving money to buy a new chair.

Math in the Bath by Atherly. Mathematics as part of daily experience.

Mojo Means One: Swahili Counting Book by Feelings. Besides counting the book includes lots of East African Culture.

Grades 4-6

Mathematics by Adler. Teaches children about interesting aspects of math.

If You Made a Million by Schwartz. Explores the use of different coins to equal sums of money.

The I Hate Mathematics Book by Burns. Games and tricks to show readers how to be a mathematical heavyweight.

G is for Googol by Schwartz. Full of interesting mathematics vocabulary.

Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi by Neuschwander. Diameter and circumference.

Websites with good mathematics games and activities.

Math Playground

Hooda Math

Math Play


Read Across America 2014

by Miriam Downey 4. March 2014 07:59

This week is Read Across America week with yesterday, March 3, as Read Across America Day. The Cat in the Hat is the official deliverer of the good news of books to children all over the country. I laugh now when I think about how much my children loved Dr. Seuss books and how much I groaned when one of the children picked up their favorite Dr. Seuss story for bedtime reading. Now, I rejoice every time my youngest grandchild picks up One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish--his current favorite--and brings it to me to read to him. We cuddle on the couch and are soon caught up in silliness.

Many of Dr. Seuss's books can be found on the Internet, and there are entire websites dedicated to his books. Many of them include lesson plans, coloring pages, puzzles and other activities to go with the books. Additionally, there are a lot of YouTube videos that read Dr. Seuss books to children. I've included a list of websites with Dr Seuss activities at the end of the post.

Dr. Seuss's real name was Theodore Seuss Geisel. He was an advertising and political cartoonist who stumbled into writing children's books when he was hired to illustrate a book. Although the book was not successful, the illustrations received a lot of praise. So, Geisel decided to write a book on his own. His first published book was And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. After that success, a book editor bet him that he couldn't write a book using 225 basic vocabulary words that all new readers would know. The Cat in the Hat did just that. It used all 225 words and only those 225 words.

And thus the magic of Dr. Seuss books. The earliest readers can read them, and they are loved because of the rhymes, quirky characters, and the life lessons that they teach. So, even though parents can groan (like I did) when a child brings Green Eggs and Ham to read for the 100th time, you can be happy that you are helping your child learn language and reading.

Here is a list of a dozen Dr. Seuss books that every child should read at least once. But believe me, for most children, once is not enough.

Green Eggs and Ham

On! The Places You'll Go

The Cat in the Hat

The Lorax

Horton Hears a Who

Horton Hatches the Egg

The Sneetches

Hop on Pop

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

Ten Apples Up on Top

Fox in Socks

How the Grinch Stole Christmas




The official Dr. Seuss website

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot about That from PBS

A list of quotes from Dr. Seuss books

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