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Mathematics Awareness Month: Math Is All Around

2014 April 22
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As we wind our way through April, many of us take the time to celebrate poetry, but how many of us pause for Mathematics Awareness Month? It seems like the perfect time to dust off and update my second Hub post ever, Fiction + Math = <3.

Fiction math screenshot

In that post, I looked at math-related books in several categories, among them making money, sci-fi/fantasy, making sense of the world, puzzle books, amateur detectives/solving crimes, and nonfiction. Since then, protagonists Colin Fischer and Don from The Rosie Project have both lent their logical worldviews (each is on the autism spectrum) to making sense of the world. Danica McKellar has added Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape to her series of magazine-style math instruction books. And fiction books that simply put math themes front-and-center are still around, as with The Absolute Value of Mike, in which Mike’s dyscalculia prevents him from connecting with his math-professor father.

I’ve also been keeping an eye peeled for new categories. Chess fiction definitely seems up-and-coming, with 2009 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers selection Chess Rumble starting us off recently, and David Klass’s Grandmaster and Gary Blackwood’s Curiosity appearing this year. Infographics may be more of an internet trend, but it’s reached at least a couple books: Information Everywhere: The World Explained in Facts, Stats, and Graphics and Lonely Planet’s Book of Everythingyou could even say that the “visual counting books” like DK’s series One Million Things: A Visual Encyclopedia is riding the infographic wave.

And what about Makerspaces and STEM/STEAM? I would point the maker-types to the explosion of nonfiction in their area, such as The Art of Tinkering and Make Magazine. Cory Doctorow’s Makers is an adult science fiction book with themes that may interest teens who have outgrown his Little Brother.

Last but not least, when is a book truly Gamified? Does it have to be a fully transmedia, multiplatform blowout, a la Scholastic’s The Infinity Ring series, with books, posters, passcodes, and online game components to the story? Or can it be cleverly tucked within the print book, with codes and puzzles for readers who are diligent — readers who are devouring Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library and House of Secrets, #1?

I’ll leave you with the final thought that if you’re a fan of using picture books with older readers, don’t miss the biographies The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos, and On A Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein. Enjoy the rest of Mathematics Awareness Month! <3

–Becky O’Neil, currently reading Dept. of Speculation, by Jenny Offill

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