Sneaky picture books about maths concepts

Basic maths concepts form a natural part of many entertaining picture books without young readers even realising that they’re learning. Here, we’ve collected some of our favourite picture books that delve into geometry, counting, arithmetic, volume, measurement and more.

For even more recommendations, check out our picture books about maths concepts collection below.


For tackling shapes and geometry…

Circle Rolls by Barbara Kanninen & Serge Bloch

The characters in this chaotic romp are all anthropomorphic shapes – triangles, rectangles, stars, circles, ovals, diamonds and squares – that jump, dance, frolic and roll around the pages with aplomb. Young readers will love listening to Kanninen’s rhyming text, looking at Bloch’s colourful, kinetic cartoons, and learning basic and more unusual shapes.

For ages 1 and up.


For tackling counting…

Ten Little Pirates by Mike Brownlow

This ultra-colourful picture book starts with 10 pirates and counts down to one pirate with rhyming text and onomatopoeia on each page. Whales, storms, giant squids and mermaids all reduce the pirates on the ship, until there’s only a lonely solo pirate shipwrecked on an island. Learning numbers and practising counting are rendered fun by the busy illustrations and jaunty words. And there is a happy ending when all the pirates end up on the island for a proper pirate party!

For ages 1 and up.


For tackling division and fractions…

The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins

Two siblings are given a plate of Grandma’s home-baked cookies, and work out that they can eat six cookies each. But when the doorbell rings and two more kids enter, the cookies have to be divided again. Each time the doorbell rings, the growing group of kids realise their cookie share is dwindling… This classic picture book features Hutchins’s sublime 70s-style illustrations, and is a gentle introduction to concepts that will later lead to division and fractions.

For ages 2 and up.


For tackling counting, arrays and multiplication…

Stack the Cats by Susie Ghahremani

Adorable cats get stacked and grouped in various numbers in this playful book. Count the cartoon cats, then watch as three cats get stacked comfortably, but stacks of five teeter and totter. Six cats are best stacked as two groups of three, and of course the cats also sleep, play and sit in boxes. The cuteness factor is high with this one, and kids will love counting cats as they learn about arrays and grouping to boot.

For ages 3 and up.


For tackling volume…

Mr Archimede’s Bath by Pamela Allen

Mr Archimedes’s bath always overflows, perhaps not that surprisingly, given he shares it with a kangaroo, a goat and a wombat. By adding and removing animals from the bath – and finally himself – Mr Archimedes observes that the water level goes up and down. This is a very basic introduction to volume; eagle-eyed and inquisitive readers will note that the larger animals make the water rise more than the smaller. Simple, funny and effective, this charming picture book could lead to some fun water experiments around the home.

For ages 3 and up.


For tackling measurement…

Counting on Frank by Rod Clement

Frank the dog’s owner loves to measure the things around his house and the world around him in the most unconventional ways. Length is measured in pen ink, volume by how many Franks or Dads would fit inside, height and rate of growth against the gum tree in the yard, and distance by how far the toaster flings toast. All sort of arithmetic equations are thrown around in this quirky and surreal picture book, where the emphasis is on lateral thinking and silliness, rather than precision.

For ages 4 and up.


For tackling addition and multiplication…

365 Penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental & Joelle Jolivet

A family receive a delivery of one penguin on New Year’s Day, then another the next day. By the end of January they have 31 penguins to house, and by the end of February, they have 31 plus 28 penguins. The family struggle to feed and take care of their growing penguin colony, using simple arithmetic to calculate storage space, feed and monetary costs, until the source of their problem is revealed on the last day of the year. This comical over-sized picture book contains fun calculations, as well as a nice ecological message.

For ages 5 and up.

Leanne Hall is a children’s and YA specialist at Readings Kids. She also writes books for children and young adults.

Stack the Cats

Stack the Cats

Susie Ghahremani

$12.99Buy now

Finding stock availability...