In honor of Theodor Seuss Geisel’s 104th birthday today, I thought I’d do a post on (fiction) books that have some math in them. But when I started to think about what I’d write, I quickly became overwhelmed. Should I mention The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster? What about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon, a novel written from the perspective of a mathematical 15-year old who is also autistic? And then there is The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, which I haven’t actually read but which came highly recommended. I started collecting titles of books with a-little-to-a-lot of math in them about two years ago, and the list could be a web site in and of itself.
But other people who have done exactly that, and much better than I could, so I’ll just link to a few on-line collections that I found while I was collecting titles.
- Alex Kasman maintains a site of Mathematical Fiction with over 650 entries. These include books for adults, and he gives a paragraph or so commentary on each one.
- Literature Links from Connect (“A Magazine of Teachers’ Innovations in K-8 Science, Math and Technology”) has nearly 250 book reviews available on-line.
- The California Department of Education has an online searchable index of Recommended Literature for Math & Science, with over 1400 titles. That main page is an overview, and you can select Search List (Search for Literature) to do the actual search. If you fill in one of the boxes (say, Calculus under Mathematics Subject Area:) and submit it, you’ll get a list of books that have some calculus in them; clicking on an individual title will give more information about the book.
OK, I lied. I’m also going to do a plug for some of my favorite children’s science books: The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library™. They’re non-fiction books for kids (grades K-4 maybe?) written in Dr. Seuss-style rhyme, and they seem to be scientifically accurate. (The plant one got approval from our local plant biologist!) You can find them at Seussville, but I’m not sure how often that list is updated. (The first book was published in 1998 and one or two new ones are released each year.) As far as I know, this is the list so far.
- Clam-I-Am! All About the Beach
- Fine Feathered Friends: All About Birds
- A Great Day for Pup! All About Wild Babies
- Hurray for Today! All About Holidays
- I Can Name 50 Trees Today! All About Trees
- If I Ran the Rain Forest: All About Tropical Rain Forests
- Inside Your Outside: All About the Human Body
- Is a Camel a Mammal?
- My, Oh My–A Butterfly! All About Butterflies
- Oh, Say Can You Say DI-NO-SAUR? All about Dinosaurs
- Oh Say Can You Say What’s the Weather Today? All About Weather
- Oh Say Can You Seed? All about Flowering Plants
- Oh, the Pets You Can Get! All About Our Animal Friends
- Oh the Things You Can Do That Are Good for You! All About Staying Healthy
- On Beyond Bugs: All About Insects
- One Cent, Two Cents, Old Cent, New Cent: All About Money
- There’s a Map on My Lap! All About Maps
- There’s No Place Like Space: All About Our Solar System
- A Whale of a Tale: All About Porpoises, Dolphins, and Whales
- Wish for a Fish: All about Sea Creatures
(I linked to Amazon only because that’s an easy way to find out more about each book. We don’t get anything from them, or from anyone else we link to.)
The photo of Ted Geisel was taken by Al Ravenna, World Telegram staff photographer, and was released into the public domain by the New York World-Telegram and the Sun.