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Mathematics: An Illustrated History of Numbers Review by Jennifer King

Ponderables Series: 100 Breakthroughs That Changed History
EditedEdited by Tom Jackson
Shelter Harbor Press
603 W 115th Street, Suite 163
New York, NY 10025

Mathematics is one of those things we really struggle to find a fondness for.  At the same time, I know the great value within. It’s important to be able to encourage curiosity within our children; how fun it is to learn when we are loving what we are learning. So we are always on the lookout for materials that will make learning this subject more enjoyable. Mathematics: An Illustrated History of Numbers, is one of those things.

This is a hardcover book full of information regarding measuring, calculating, counting and so much more.  All showing the amazing history of numbers and what it means to us today! This contains 100 Ponderables and includes a sturdy fold out timeline which is twelve pages long, showing 1000+ historical facts! It’s a fun walk through history and full of things that really make you think.

Since we love to read this was an exciting arrival at our house. We also happen to really love timelines! The very first pages drew us in as they asked, “Is math a science? Is it an art?” My oldest being an artist and my younger son being a little scientist, they were both intrigued and excited to find the answer to this question. Needless to say, we think it’s a bit of both. The more we saw and the more we read the more curious my boys became. And the more excited I was to see them, seeing mathematics, in a fun new way.

Each page is full of beautiful, high quality art work; this makes this book a wonderful tool for a visual learner. The images on each page also really helps to bring each topic to life. We studied images of computer code as well as digits of Babylonian numbers.  We learned about math in music, the Fibonacci sequence, magic squares and so much more! This was even a fun way to go around the world, as we learned about the different places that some of these famous men were from.

These are great stories to help our children to learn all about various mathematical theories and tools while also introducing them to historical figures who discovered and changed the way we see and do many things today. Learn about how logic was invented; ponder chaos theory and learn more about the Leaning Tower.

There is also a wonderful section at the end of the book which introduces a number of famous mathematicians to our children with a brief biography, and basic overview of their important discovery. I love the words on this page which remind us all: “They are in many ways ordinary people, but they all have an extraordinary story to tell.”

This is a wonderful tool to help encourage older kids to explore mathematics for themselves. As you read each Ponderable within these pages, you see a puzzle as well as the steps that were taken to discover the solution that we have today. I am so grateful for this book because the more we read in the book, the more excited everyone is getting about this topic that has been anything but exciting to them for so long. If you need to get your kids inspired, this is definitely a great way to do it!

-Product review by Jennifer King, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March, 2017