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Are there any interesting books on math for children? Let's break this into two questions: interesting books on math for children in elementary school and interesting books on math for children in middle school.

The only book I can think of that might work for kids is The Little Schemer by Friedman and Felleisen. To me, that seems almost as much a math book as a programming book.

And there's also Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll, which, although they don't really have any explicit math content in them, do have the sort of contradictory, paradoxical type of humor that many math people like.

Also Raymond Smullyan's books, but I think those might appeal mainly to older teens, but I'm not really sure.

Any ideas?

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I sure wonder if kids today can read Flatland... –  J. M. Sep 30 '11 at 21:38
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If you like Smullyan, get the collected Martin Gardner: amazon.com/Colossal-Book-Mathematics-Paradoxes-Problems/dp/… A much wider range and wonderful. –  Ross Millikan Oct 1 '11 at 4:50
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5 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

And there's also Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll, which, although they don't really have any explicit math content in them, do have the sort of contradictory, paradoxical type of humor that many math people like (not the Pillow Problems, these are just problems, for older kids).

Actually Lewis Carroll does have more mathematically inclined children books like "A Tangled Tale" and "Pillow Problems". And they share the humor we like (not Pillow Problems, these are just problems, for older children).

Especially I liked his own symbols for trigonometric functions. Detexify doesn't seem to be able to find there LaTeX versions, so I've made an image:

Notation of sine and cosine by Lewis Carroll

As Lewis Carroll explains, this notion came from the "old trigonometry", where sines and cosines were real lines. Seems it was not only Feynman who invented his own notion for them. I've read both books in Russian, where they were accompanied with his letters to children and his textbook "Symbolic Logic". That was indeed a nice collection, I failed to find an English equivalent, but sure it should be somewhere.

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I have not read it, but you could try "The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure", by Hans Magnus Enzensberger.

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Thanks, Hamlet. I noticed it has "Cantor dust" in the index, so it's probably good. I'm picking up a copy on my way home. –  Paul Reiners Sep 30 '11 at 20:38
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I have read it and was about to recommend it; it’s very clever. The author is Hans Magnus Enzensberger. –  Brian M. Scott Sep 30 '11 at 20:44
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I pored through this at least a couple times from 2nd to 5th grade:

Math for Smarty Pants

Lots of illustrations; it looks at recreational-type math puzzles using a loose narrative structure with a cast of characters. It gave me some basic exposure to concepts in number theory (amicable numbers, perfect numbers), geometry (polygonal numbers, Möbius strips), logic (classic puzzles, the barber paradox), and combinatorics (permutations, combinations). And they don't say so, but they do skirt around the Collatz conjecture, those jerks.

Use Amazon's "look inside" feature to make sure it's your style! This book is largely expository, rather than problem-solving, but it's likely to get kids to look at a few concepts they haven't encountered before.

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I just found this book on Amazon: "Math Puzzles and Games, Grades 6-8: Over 300 Reproducible Puzzles that Teach Math and Problem Solving" by Terry Stickels.

It has a blurb by Martin Gardner on the back, so it's probably quite good.

Also, Flatland. How could I forget Flatland?

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Is Flatland suitable for children? –  Hamlet D'Arcy Oct 21 '11 at 12:55
    
Why not? I would say it is. –  Paul Reiners Apr 13 '12 at 18:07
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Here is a link

http://mathcircle.berkeley.edu/

with lots to offer (not only) kids. There is a further link to a book section. Plus you might find a comparable endeavor near you, if it's of interest.

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