Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Boy Who Loved Math

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy. 
Every Wednesday, I'll review a non-fiction picture book. (It may not always be a picture book.) Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other non-fiction books are shared this week!

Title: The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos
Author: Deborah Heiligman 
Illustrator: LeUyen Pham 
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press 
Publication Date: June, 2013 
Genre/Format: Non-Fiction Biography/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: Most people think of mathematicians as solitary, working away in isolation. And, it's true, many of them do. But Paul Erdos never followed the usual path. At the age of four, he could ask you when you were born and then calculate the number of seconds you had been alive in his head. But he didn't learn to butter his own bread until he turned twenty. Instead, he traveled around the world, from one mathematician to the next, collaborating on an astonishing number of publications. With a simple, lyrical text and richly layered illustrations, this is a beautiful introduction to the world of math and a fascinating look at the unique character traits that made "Uncle Paul" a great man. 
What I Think: I know this is a non-fiction picture book that Aly really loves this year! Now that it's a Nerdy nominee, too, I finally had to get it. And I'm so glad that I did! I love picture book biographies, and especially of people I may not have known about otherwise. A picture book is just the right kind of way to tell an obscure biography if you ask me.
    What I enjoyed most about this book is that I felt like I connected more and more with Paul as the story went along. At first, he was just a kid who loved math and wanted to avoid school at all costs. But then Paul got a little older and quirkier and then adventurous and truly eccentric....and I loved him. What a fascinating guy.
     I really like this book for talking about being in tune with who you are and what you want. While students might not - and maybe should not - know exactly all their hopes and dreams and aspirations, I hope they do have some kind of inclination. There's nothing to say we can't change our hopes and dreams as we grow, but I think it's great to encourage students to have both personal and academic goals. One year, I worked with a sophomore in high school and he was really struggling to focus on all. I started talking to him about his interests outside of school and he was adamant about participating in Parkour. Usually, I'm pretty hip to what kids are interested in but Parkour was new to me. This student had to explain it to me and he seemed to know everything there was to know about Parkour. We wrote this down as his personal goal. I believe in balance in life though so we discussed how important it is to balance personal goals with academic goals. We had to be more specific and set very attainable goals so that he could reach them and we could celebrate a small success like writing his homework down in his planner.
     The Boy Who Loved Math would pair well with other non-fiction picture book biographies and also Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown as students think about their hopes and dreams and make plans for being true to themselves and achieving those goals. 
Read Together: Grades 2 - 12  
Read Alone: Grades 2 - 12 
Read With: Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown, Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People by Monica Brown, Here Comes the Girl Scouts by Shana Corey 
Snatch of Text:  
"Paul and his friends did math together all over Budapest.
But Paul was the best.
He loved being at the top in math
and at the top of towers
and mountains
and buildings, too.

He thought about math
whatever he was doing,
wherever he was."
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Visualizing 
Writing Strategies to Practice: Personal Narrative 
Writing Prompts: Write out your personal and academic goals and then outline steps to get you closer to achieving each of them. Explain why you feel strongly about working towards those goals. 
Topics Covered: Integration - Math, Hopes, Dreams, Passion, Determination 
I *heart* It:


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