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Math Histories? Or Fiction? Or Inspiring Biographies?

Spy Car

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I'm wondering about books (any age level) that would inspire children with a love of math by learning the history of math discoveries, or a biography of a mathematician, or even a fictionalized (or semi-fictionalized) tale that sparks the imagination.


Perhaps something like, Archimedes and the Door of Science? I've seen the Sir Cumference books (but not read any yet) for young ones.


Are there books you think might inspire the imaginations of any age person (adults included) , and/or help provide an understanding of how math developed in various civilizations through history?




Edited by Spy Car
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Hey Bill,


Do you happen to be on the LivingMath Yahoo group? They have a TON of books listed..and we've had fun reading through some of them. Some are about real people and math...some more like the Neuschwander books (Sir Cumference and others she wrote...)


I'm not on that group. Never heard of it before. Sounds right on topic though, thank you for that. :001_smile:



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Hi, Bill--


I have littles, but so far our favorites have been


Mathematicians Are People, Too (2 vols.)

What's Your Angle, Pythagorus?

The Librarian Who Measured the Earth

The Warlord series by Pilegard


All of these and more were inspired by Julie Brennan, who created Living Math (the website and Yahoo group others have posted about). She rocks. She has also created an entire curriculum of "living" math, focusing on math history, biographies, and concepts presented in nontraditional ways. You can read more about it at her website. :001_smile:

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I agree about LivingMath - it will have just what you are looking for.


Here is some of the math literature my dd has enjoyed -


Anno's Mysterious Multiplying Jar - she loved this book.

One Grain of Rice -

A Fly on the Ceiling

Ben Franklin and the Magic Squares

How Big is a Foot

Actual Size

A million fish More or Less

Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest

Biggest, Strongest, Fastest


As far as history or biographies for the parent, I like Great Moments in Math by Howard Eves. There are two volumes the first is the easiest - it starts with the earliest recorded forms of counting from all over the world and works its way up to the 1600s. It also isn't completely euro-centric.

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These are fantastic suggestions!


Hathersage, Leila, Diane and Karen thank you all so much!!!


I don't know why I just didn't say "living math books" in the first place (clearly someone hasn't been paying attention) :lol:


But these are a treasure-trove.



Edited by Spy Car
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I'd also add-


How Did Numbers Begin? (Mindel and Harry Sitomer)

Math Talk -Mathematical ideas in poems for Two Voices (Theoni Pappas)

The Number Devil (Hans Magnus Enzensberger)


A complete side note, but those are three (or should I say four?) of the best authors names I've ever seen. I'd read them on that basis alone :D


Can you see yourself at a cock-tail party saying: You know I was reading Hans Magnus Enzensberger the other day and.... :lol:



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You might like Greg Tang's books. Scholastic has the best price...if you order the set. Our library has many of them as well.





I ditto livingmath.net. I also ditto Greg Tang's book. I just got done reading the Grapes of Math with my son. We had fun with this book.




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For adults (or high school + aged students), I'd recommend


Godel, Escher, and Bach (Hofstadter)

Men of Mathematics (Bell)

Five Equations that Changed the World (Guillen)

The Golden Ratio (Livio)

Fermat's Enigma (Singh)

The Music of the Primes (du Sautoy)

The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdos... (Hoffman)

To Infinity and Beyond (Naor)

The Mathematical Experience (Davis and Hersh)

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