I am a nerd. I admit it. Now I am definitely more of an English nerd than any other kind, but at one time in my life I was a well-rounded nerd. Ask anyone with whom I went to high school. (See–I still can’t end a sentence with a preposition!) I discovered the author Michael Dahl back several months ago, and upon closer scrutiny, I have come to realize that his books are great, fun learning tools. (Books can be that, you know. Just don’t tell the kids.) He has a whole series of books called Know Your Numbers which do just what they proclaim to do: teach counting and number skills.
Some of the books are written about a theme. For example, One Big Building: A Counting Book About Construction is just what its title indicates. The illustrations in this story are bright, cheerful, and graphic–perfect for any Bob the Builder fan. Another example is my own favorite, From the Garden: A Counting Book About Growing Food. Brightly colored illustrations and an abundance of alliteration make this one a feast for the eyes and the ears. (Get it? Feast!) Dahl explores many kid-friendly themes in his Know Your Numbers books. From seasons to the ocean to racing to rockets, there’s something for just about everyone.
The other component of this Know Your Numbers collection is the skip-counting collection. I understand that skip-counting is a new way to introduce multiplication to children; when I was a child, we just called it counting by twos, five, tens, etc. Whatever it’s called, it’s an important skill to acquire. Titles like Speed, Speed, Centipede: Counting by Tens and Footprints in the Snow: Counting by Twos illustrate this important principle through fun pictures, repetition, and rhyme.
There are a few features common to each of the Know Your Numbers books. Each book demonstrates the number on each page through the use of a rectangle with the appropriate number of dots on it (I’m sure there’s a technical term for this, but it looks like a domino to me) and the Arabic number. The Arabic numeral is also hidden on the page somewhere as a part of the illustration. Each book also ends with extras which might include “Fun Facts” about the theme, a glossary, a web link, etc. Know Your Numbers would make a great addition (Get it? Addition!) to any home or school library for preschoolers or early elementary aged children.
Little did I know when I first began checking Michael Dahl’s books out from the library that he also writes books that make my English nerd heart pitter-pat. This series is the Word Fun series, and it includes such titles as If You Were a Synonym, If You Were a Palindrome, If You Were a Noun, etc. Although these books are a little over my preschoolers’ heads, they still enjoyed hearing the palindromes, etc. This would be a fun way to introduce or review parts of speech and types of words to elementary aged children.
It looks like Michael Dahl also writes a series of middle grade mystery/adventure novels. Does anyone know anything about the Finnegan Zwake mysteries? The name’s the same, and given his ability to write about so many different subjects effectively, I would not be surprised if this is the same Michael Dahl.
While in general here at the House of Hope we like our numbers (and our parts of speech, for that matter) to be introduced in a natural way, I think these books are just fun enough to counter balance that we’re actually reading a book about numbers. Highly recommended!