Best counting books for children
Counting and sequencing numbers correctly is a big part of early maths. We've picked some brilliant mathematical story books to help support your child's learning at home with vibrant illustrations, memorable characters and great narratives.
One is a Snail, Ten is a Crab by April Pulley Sayre and Jeff Sayre(£5.99, Walker Books)
A fast and funny counting-by-feet tale, packed with the legs of snails (one), people (two), dogs (four), insects (six), spiders (eight) and crabs (ten). We love the crazy combinations of feet and numbers.
Ten Little Pirates / Ten Little Princesses by Mike Brownlow(£6.99, Orchard Books)
Master the art of counting backwards (and basic subtraction) with the illustration-packed and very entertaining Ten Little... books. Whether your child prefers fairytale characters or "gruesome" pirates, these counting rhymes are catchy and captivating.
Handa's Hen by Eileen Browne(£5.99, Walker Books)
As Handa and her friend Akeyo search for Mondi the black hen they come across two fluttering butterflies, three stripy mice, four little lizards, sunbirds, crickets, spoonbills, bullfrogs and starlings. A wonderfully-illustrated counting tale set in beautiful Africa.
A Place for Zero by Angeline Sparagna LoPresti(£5.25, Charlesbridge Publishing)
Zero has nothing to add, but he's determined to find his place in the world of numbers. A funny, heartfelt story about belonging – and place value! – with a real numerical message about how we use the digit 0 to represent numbers larger than 9. Reception children will enjoy the story; KS2 children will be amused by the mathematical 'in jokes'. Recommended!
Richard Scarry's Best Counting Book Ever by Richard Scarry(£6.99, Sterling)
Richard Scarry's wonderfully detailed (and funny) illustrations offer loads of things to count on every page and the text explains numbers (from 1 to 20, and then ten by ten to 100) to kids in a very simple way. Addition and subtraction are introduced ("One bunny and one bunny make two bunnies." or "Four bunnies go home. That leaves just one bunny."). A classic for the ages!
How Big is a Million? by Anna Milbourne(£9.99, Usborne)
It's hard to imagine really big numbers, so here they're illustrated: 10 fish, 100 penguins, 1000 snowflakes and an amazing one million stars, printed on a special 1 x 1.5m fold-out poster at the end of the book. A lovely story that makes it much easier to visualise large numbers.
The Real Princess by Brenda Williams(£6.99, Barefoot Books)
A beautifully-told traditional tale with a mathematical flavour, The Real Princess is the story of the princess and the pea, populated with multiple princes, princesses and peas! After listening to the story your child can complete the counting challenge at the back of the book, poring over the beautiful illustrations to find the correct answers. The book comes with a narration CD read by actress Juliet Stevenson.
Henry the Fourth by Stuart J Murphy(£3.99, William Morrow)
As well as learning cardinal numbers (one, two, three...), Reception children are taught ordinal numbers (first, second, third...) to help them organise items in a list. In this neighbourhood dog show a playful pack of pooches compete and show off their skills while reinforcing the concept of ordinal numbers.
Great Estimations by Bruce Goldstone(£4.61, Square Fish)
If someone handed you a big bowl of jelly beans, how would you work out how many there are? You could count them one by one (could take a while, though) or you could estimate. Introduce your child to the mathematical skill of estimating with this book, which aims to show you how to train your eyes and your mind by making estimating into a game.
Sir Cumference and All the King's Tens by Cindy Neuschwander(£5.99, Charlesbridge Publishing)
Children learn to count in tens as early as Reception. Use this funny maths storybook about a very well-attended party to explain why it can be useful for us to do that, as well as introducing the concept of place value as a "Number Neighbourhood".
How many legs? by Kes Gray and Jim Field(£5.99, Hodder Children's Books)
A chaotic and wonderfully silly rhyming counting story packed with legs – polar bear legs, duck legs, hippo legs, dog and chimp and seagull and frog and squid and buffalo legs. Oh, and table legs... Brilliant fun, with beautiful, detailed illustrations to pore over.
Alison Hubble by Allan Ahlberg(£6.99, Puffin Books)
Mathematical mayhem ensues when Alison Hubble goes to bed and then wakes up double... and then doubles again and again and again, to her parents' and teachers' dismay and her classmates' delight! A new (multiplication) classic from master story-teller Allan Ahlerg.
One Thing by Lauren Child(£6.99, Orchard Books)
On a trip to the shops with Mum, Charlie and Lola are allowed to choose one thing... but what will it be? And will they even manage to make it to the shops when Lola is busy counting the dots on her dress, the ladybirds on the path (do they need socks?) and the birds and the leaves on the way? A counting book in Lauren Child's inimitable style, brilliant for reading out loud.