Using Children’s Literature to Enrich Mathematics in the Elementary Classroom
Sallie Harper, Ph.D.; Lynn Kelley, Ed.D.; Linda Paparella, Ed.S. & Dana Rolison, Ph.D.

Abstract

Math and literacy integration supplement children’s experiences and increase the chances of being successful in the elementary classroom. Elementary-age students spend many hours daily building reading skills across the curriculum. Literacy skills that are emphasized in reading programs, including comprehension, making predictions, listening, and higher order thinking, are a valid fit with elementary mathematics. Through subject integration teachers and students dismiss the illusion that mathematics is a separate subject unrelated to other disciplines. Using children’s literature to connect literacy skills to mathematics, a subject that often produces misconceptions and anxiety in students, is an acceptable and constructive method. Educational arrangements such as state tests and instruction that exploit repetitive drill as evidence of standards mastery contribute to student anxiety. Integration of math and literature release students to use knowledge they already have in new concentrations. The use of children’s literature in mathematics can motivate students to understand that success in mathematics is possible. Significant children’s books also form connections between math and its application in the real world. This helps students to realize that math goes beyond what they see on a math worksheet or in a textbook.