Storytelling Math

TERC is collaborating with Charlesbridge Publishing to develop picture books that meld story, racial diversity, and math and are written by “ownvoices” authors.

Lead Staff:
Marlene Kliman
Project Staff:
Valerie Martin
Audrey Martínez-Gudapakkam
Nuria Jaumot-Pascual


Storytelling Math is centered on two interrelated goals:

  • Expand the mathematical content in trade storybooks for ages 0–5 to include often-overlooked topics that are critical to building mathematical understanding, including patterns, spatial relationships, measurement, and sorting;
  • Expand images and contexts of characters in such books, to reflect families from traditionally under-represented groups and give all readers an inclusive vision of mathematical thinkers.

To address these goals, TERC is collaborating with Charlesbridge Publishing to develop picture books that meld story, racial diversity, and math and are written by “ownvoices” authors (authors whose characters reflect their own racial background). We anticipate publication of approximately 25 books in English and Spanish by project end. Signed contributors include nationally-known, award-winning authors and illustrators reflecting varied racial backgrounds. In a related pilot effort, TERC collaborated with publisher Star Bright Books to develop board books that combine math, story, and racial diversity, with editions in Chinese, English, Hindi, Hmong, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Research Activity

TERC is investigating impacts of distributing these books to low-income, low-literacy families via partnerships with Reach Out and Read and Too Small To Fail/The Clinton Foundation. Preliminary results suggest that the books can serve to spark productive adult-child math interactions, demonstrate developmentally appropriate mathematical thinking, and help children recognize organic and genuine uses of math in everyday life.


With anticipated substantial commercial sales conducted in conjunction with Charlesbridge’s distribution partner Penguin Random House, we anticipate that this project will help re-shape national conceptions of what constitutes math for ages 0-5, who can do math, and ways in which parents and caregivers can organically support children’s math learning as part of story reading at home.

Future Book Publications

Charlesbridge will be publishing the Storytelling Math Series (English, Spanish)

  • Four board books for ages 0-2 (2020)
  • Eight picture books for ages 3-5 (2020 and 2021)

Star Bright Books, publishing Small Talk math board books (English, Spanish, with some titles also in Chinese, Hindi, Hmong, Somali, and Vietnamese) Yellow, Red, Green — GO! (2020, tentative title)

Books Currently Available

Project: Storytelling Math Book Available Banana for Two (2018)   Project: Storytelling Math Book 2 Available Clean Up Up Up! (2018)

Animals Would Not Sleep Book Cover The Animals Would Not Sleep (2020)