Broadening Mathematics Curriculum: Linking Children’s Literature to Mathematics
Children’s literature provides connections across all content areas. When incorporated within mathematics, it provides an engaging, accessible, and authentic context for learning. The literary experience can lead to mathematical investigations that address communication and problem solving skills, which are highly encouraged and stressed by both the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics(2011) and the Common Core Standards(2010). Student motivations along with development of conceptual understandings are instrumental in leading to academic success (Bransford et al., 2000). The use of children’s literature connects with the needs of learners to create transferable understandings by way of multiple contexts and exposures. These contexts need to be motivating and encouraging of students to be active learners. Students can thrive as learners when these activities occur within a collaborative, supportive, and challenging classroom environment. Children’s literature provides a necessary addition to mathematics curriculum by addressing problem solving and communication skills. Investigations allow teachers the opportunity to assess students in these domains. Resources for teachers exist on how and why to use literature, as well as resources for teachers to use in making evaluations on the literary qualities and mathematical soundness of children’s books (Whitin & Whitin, 2004, Schiro, 1997). Teachers can access many resources that offer suggestions for quality children’s literature and effective, connected mathematical activities (Burns, 1992). However, in a growing standards based curriculum the propensity to follow the textbook exists. The growing body of research and resources should be more accessible to teachers in order to encourage the effective use of children’s literature to create deeper conceptual based understandings through the use of communication and problem solving.