Exploring math outside the "math textbook box" can make math interesting and different in charming ways for students and teachers. This is fairly easy to do in the elementary grades. There are a number of excellent books for younger students (two favorites come to mind immediately--Sir Cumference and the Round Table and Counting on Frank), and students love them. But obvious curriculum links with literature get slimmer in mathematics in later grades even though literature is still a good way to engage student interest and expand learning. Here we are highlighting books with mathematics that should be accessible to students who are studying either algebra or geometry--there is no higher math to scare students! Our goal is to offer ideas for teaching mathematics using books and stories that should interest young teens.I am all in favor of fun and making connections but I am afraid there is no substitute for hard work.
The fiction and nonfiction books we feature offer a different approach to thinking about mathematics. The books explore mathematics as part of today's world and as part of history. A literature approach can offer ways to look at current issues (see 200% of Nothing) or to explore a little math history (see the reprinted 1919 classic Number Stories of Long Ago).
We also suggest three literary works that may seem unusual for a math class, but they were selected for their easy-to-find mathematics and an enjoyable story to read. You can access them online--the latest format for these classic stories:
"The Priory School," The Return of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle--available in book form and on the web: http://www.bakerstreet221b.de/canon/prio.htm
"The Lottery," by Shirley Jackson--available in book form and on the web: http://mbhs.bergtraum.k12.ny.us/cybereng/shorts/lotry.html
Gulliver's Travels, by Jonathan Swift--available in book form and on the web: http://www.jaffebros.com/lee/gulliver/contents.html