Thursday, February 16, 2012

Math Books for Cats

I don't know for sure, but I suspect that every kid holds in his or her heart a metaphor or identity that can open the door to learning.

With my kid, you don't have to dig too deeply.  If it's a narrative that includes cats, she's interested (except with the Clan series -- too many kitties getting hurt make her crazy).  She is a cat, you know.  She started out a kitten at the age of two and now she's a cheetah (to account for the size of her six year old self).  Maybe you know a kid or two like her?

It's amazing how much you can learn through cats.  Interested in pioneer life?  No problem, there's the short chapter book called Pioneer Cat.  For a cat-led adventure through gripping transitional moments in world history, try Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander.  Flying cats?  The Catwings series by Ursula K. Le Guin is just the ticket.  Cookie's Week is perfect when you're learning to read.  Cross-species communication is covered in Jean Craighead George's How to Talk to Your Cat.  And, the cat book lover's ultimate cat book, Dewey: There's a Cat in the Library by Vicki Myron.

So, it probably comes as no surprise that I love any chance to work math into the cat obsession lifestyle.  Here are three books that have a special place in my heart. 

My very favorite cat and math book is Five Creatures, by Emily Jenkins.  It's about the similarities and differences (attributes!) between the members of a lovely little family. 

"Five creatures live in our house," it begins, "Three humans and two cats.  Three short, and two tall....Three with orange hair, and two with gray."  We read this book when my daughter was in preschool and it was fun for both of us to look at the pictures to see who matched each description.  The categories of family attributes are not always straightforward, which makes this a wonderfully interactive read.  I am planning to bring it out again and see how it looks through my daughter's now six-year-old eyes.

The tag line for One Hungry Cat by Joann Rocklin is "A greedy cat learns division."  When we first found it we read it over and over and over, giggling every time.  I'm going to go back to the library and get it again since we're heavy into arithmetic these days; it's got an introduction by Marilyn Burns, and a bunch of activities created by her to go with the story.  We play (and love) another Marylin Burns-created math activity using Cuisenaire rods called "Build What I Have" so I have a feeling there are some rich resources there.
So Many Cats! is also a favorite.  It's a straightforward story of a growing family of cats, but the rhyming text is musical and fun to read.  If you're a cat lover or, indeed, a real cat, you will read this with great affection for every new cat that joins the story.

If you have suggestions for more cat and math books to add to our list, both the kid and I would be thrilled to hear them! 


  1. How about James Herriot's Treasury for Children. The stories are all about farm animals and there are several about cats such as The Christmas Day Kitten and Moses the Kitten.

    I have been following your blog by email and I have to say it is one of my favorites. - Thank You

  2. Oh, yeah! We love "Oscar, Cat About Town" but have never read the others. Time for a trip to the library, lol!

    And, gee, thanks! Thanks for your comments and for reading! :)

  3. We are all about cats here too, and Anna's "Indian name" in school is "Fast Cheetah". Did you read Jenny Linsky series? We especially liked Jenny Goes to Sea. I will look for the books you recommend, and you are welcome to link to my reading round-up here -

  4. Oh, we love (LOVE) Jenny Linsky! I read most of the books to my daughter when she was 3 1/2 to four, and then we revisted them a few years later. I have some very fond memories for the Cat Club... ;-)


Thanks for reading. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments!


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