Can anyone suggest pre algebra book for beginner. Would like to see something more than the worksheets offered online. I would prefer a book which would teach strong fundamentals concepts about beginning algebra. I would like to add it is for my kid who started middle school.

  • $\begingroup$ By pre-algebra, do you mean arithmetic? Or a beginning algebra book? $\endgroup$
    – David P
    Dec 22 '14 at 21:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The artofproblemsolving.com has a good book on prealgebra geared towards competition mathematics, so the problems should be nice and challenging, rather than just mechanical/plug 'n chug. $\endgroup$ Dec 22 '14 at 21:37
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks everyone for your suggestions. In reply to David Peterson's post, I was looking for beginning algebra book. $\endgroup$ Dec 23 '14 at 2:48
  • $\begingroup$ See also: Good Pre-Calculus book? $\endgroup$ Jul 18 '21 at 6:52

From the Chicago Undergraduate Mathematics Bibliography:

Gelfand/Shen, Algebra
Gelfand/Glagoleva/Shnol, Functions and graphs
Gelfand/Glagoleva/Kirillov, The method of coordinates

These three little white books come from the Soviet correspondence school in mathematics, run by I. M. Gelfand for interested people of all ages in the further reaches of the USSR. Rather than trying to be artificially "down-to-earth" in the way Americans do, Gelfand simply assumes that you can understand the mathematics as it's done (and avoids the formal complexities mathematicians are inured to). YSP and SESAME give these out by the carload to their students, who mostly love them. TMoC is notable for its intriguing four-axis scheme for making flat graphs of $\Bbb R^4$. Overall a fresh, inspiring look at topics we take for granted, and a good thing to recommend to bright younger students or friends (or parents!)

Cohen, Precalculus with unit circle trigonometry

[Rebecca Virnig] I used this book in high school and absolutely loved it. It's very skimpy on proofs, and really should not be used for that sort of insight. However, in terms of understanding how to apply various mathematical concepts it's wonderful. It has a large number of graphs, examples, and easy reference tables. It covers all the algebra, trig, and cartesian geometry that any good high school math sequence should deal with. I have used it for years as a reference book (e.g., what exactly is Cramer's rule again...) Solutions to a number of the problems are in the back, and the problems are not entirely applications.


The University of Chicago School Mathematics Project's translation series includes Japanese textbooks edited by Kunihiko Kodaira. The exposition in these books is clear and the problems are challenging. I recommend them highly.

The book Japanese Grade 7 Mathematics covers integers (operations with signed numbers, greatest common divisor, least common multiple), variables, linear equations, direct and inverse variation, plane figures (lines, angles, circles, sectors), and figures in space (polyhedra, prisms, cylinders, cones, spheres). As the list of topics indicates, the book prepares you to learn both algebra and geometry.

The book Japanese Grade 8 Mathematics delves into both algebra and geometry. It covers operations on polynomials, linear inequalities in one variable, systems of linear equations in two variables, linear functions, parallel lines, properties of triangles including congruence, properties of parallelograms, similar figures, and methods of organizing data.

The book Japanese Grade 9 Mathematics continues the study of algebra and geometry. It covers square roots, polynomials (including factoring), quadratic equations, functions, circles, figures and measurement (including the Pythagorean Theorem), and some basic probability and statistics.

Since your child just started middle school, I would start with the seventh grade book.

The books by Gelfand suggested by user201168 are excellent, as is Gelfand's trigonometry text, but they are intended as supplements to the high school mathematics curriculum. Gelfand's Algebra would provide a nice supplement to the ninth grade text mentioned above. Gelfand's Functions and Graphs, Trigonometry, and The Method of Coordinates would provide good supplements to the tenth and eleventh grade books in the Japanese mathematics series.


I suggest the book: Pre-algebra by Tobey and Blair by Pearson. The authors are experienced college educators and you will feel as if you are being guided through the journey. There are theoretical and applications problems that are blended nicely to help you enjoy learning and grasping the concepts at the same time. Its a must-have book on your shelf. This is the book for self-taught folks like you or near-clueless-adventurist who wants to get a fresh taste of ..math after having gone through changes..


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