Books You Can Count On

Colorful spotted dog created by Claire

Colorful spotted dog created by Claire

Last night we read stories about numbers and counting.

I’m embarrassed to say that I originally chose this theme because of the book Five Little Monkeys Play Hide and Seek by Eileen Christelow, which my daughter absolutely loved.  It’s my favorite of the Five Little Monkeys series (with Don’t Wake Up Mama as a close second), and it features the five monkeys tricking their babysitter by hiding in the one place she would never think to look–in bed.  It also has lots of counting to different numbers, even 104 (I probably wouldn’t go that high for storytime, unless the group seemed really into it).  Anyway, in the end I went off to work and left the book beside my daughter’s bed–one of the perils of being both a children’s librarian and a mom.

Luckily, there are lots of other great counting books.  Here are the ones we read:


Doggies by Sandra Boynton

This simple board book involves counting dogs from 1 to 10, adding in a new doggie sound each time.  Even though it’s meant for toddlers, it works well for almost any age because the kids love joining in on the various barks and whines.  It made for a great opening book tonight.


Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin and James Dean

My second favorite Pete the Cat book (after I Love My White Shoes).  In this one Pete keeps losing his groovy buttons, but does he cry?  Goodness no!  The kids liked the clever twist at the end, when Pete discovers he still has a button, even after all the ones on his shirt have rolled away.  Always a hit.


Hippos Go Berserk by Sandra Boynton

Another book by Sandra Boynton.  This one’s a counting and rhyming book about a lonely hippo who invites forty-four friends to her house for a party.  The best page is where “All the hippos go berserk!”


Zero by Kathryn Otoshi

I was glad I had this book in the mix because there were several elementary school aged kids in the group, and the other books I had were primarily for younger children.  This is the sequel to Otoshi’s One, a powerful but remarkably simple picture book about bullying, with the message that everyone counts.  In Zero, the number zero worries that she has no value, until she realizes that if she works together with her friends, they can count to much higher numbers than they ever had before.  Like One, this book works on multiple levels.


Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd

A simple, vibrant counting story about a dog who gets covered in spots of different colors (orange juice, jam, mud) etc., throughout the day.  The kids get lots of opportunities to count and name the colors.  This one works really well as a flannel board.


B-I-N-G-O: To go along with the book Doggies, we barked the missing letters instead of clapping them.  I asked the kids to suggest different types of dogs for each verse, which got interesting.  We had a poodle (“oui, oui! woof woof!”), a puppy, a big dog, and a cat dog (meowff?!).

The Hippopotamus (I learned this one years ago from my friend Barbara B.)

The hip, the hip, the hippopotamus (clap or pat rhythm)
Got on, got on, got on the city bus
And all, and all, and all the people said
You’re squishing us! (squeeze cheeks together with your hands)

INSTRUMENT PLAY WITH A CD: Down Down Baby by Laurie Berkner from her Whaddaya Think of That album.

CRAFT: Colorful dog

To go along with Dog’s Colorful Day, I printed out a dog picture from Coloring Pages for Kids (in the process, I found this wonderful storytime web site called Public Library Program Ideas, which had suggested this activity as part of a Spots and Stripes theme.  The kids colored in the dog with crayons and then glued dots of different colors on it.


A new book I just discovered and absolutely LOVE is The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah Heiligman and LeUyen Pham.  It describes the life of Paul Erdos, a Hungarian mathematician, who from early childhood had an astounding talent for and interest in math.  Like many geniuses, he was a bit eccentric.  For instance, until he was 21, he had never buttered his own bread (his mother and his nurse had always done everything for him).  The book briefly touches on prime numbers and negative numbers, not in depth, but enough to pique the interest of young math enthusiasts.  It’s an exuberant, fun, fascinating story, and it’s clear that the author loves math as much as Erdos did.  An excellent biography, especially for elementary school kids.   I’m looking forward to using it for class visits.

Any other favorite counting and number books?


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