Some time ago we listed some books we not only like for their rich stories and pictures, but because they provide great opportunities to explore the beginnings of geometrical thinking in young children. And now here are more! For kids’ books, geometry doesn’t have to be just reciting shape names. Here are books that can begin rich discussions involving shapes, spatial sense, and the geometry found in the world around us.
Block City by Robert Louis Stevenson, illustrated by Daniel Kirk
This wonderful look at playtime takes the form of a classic poem by Stevenson and is accompanied by amazing illustrations by celebrated artist Daniel Kirk. Because the weather is rainy, a boy must entertain himself inside, and so he begins to construct a city with blocks. Sofas become mountains and carpets become the sea. It is a very relatable story that naturally encourages building block cities of your own.
Grandpa’s Quilt by Betsy Franco
Here is a story of grandpa and a terrible dilemma he is faced with when he is going to bed: his feet are cold! In the fun problem-solving that ensues, we find several attempts to fix his quilt so that it fits him just right and his toes can feel comfy when he sleeps. Cutting and reshaping the quilt is something that can be recreated and explored in multiple ways with paper and scissors, allowing for the story to leap out of the pages. And it allows children to think through the Big Idea that shapes can be combined and separated (composed and decomposed) to make new shapes.
Color Farm and Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert
These books explore similar concepts to Pat Hutchins’ Changes, Changes in a slightly different way and with one of children’s favorite topics: animals. Let the shapes build upon each other, with each page creating a rooster, a duck, a chicken, or some other colorful animal. Along the way questions can be posited to guess what animal could be next and how, or any number of other interesting ways of exploring the shapes. Children can create shape collages in the style of Ehlers’s art.
I Spy Shapes in Art by Lucy Micklethwait
There was Where’s Waldo? and then there was I Spy Shapes. Find shapes in famous pieces of art! With an interactive opportunity for children to explore paintings by such renowned artists as Henri Matisse, Georgia O’Keeffe, and M.C. Escher, it is a great way to make a game out of learning shapes as well as a first introduction to fine art.