photo by Kirby Urner via flickr
photo by Kirby Urner via flickr
Do you want to enrich your mind with the great ideas of mathematics? Are you looking for a good book to whet your child’s appetite? Then the following pages of “living” math books are for you.

These book pages are a work in progress. Over the next several months, I will continue to add favorites from my own overflowing bookshelves and books I have enjoyed from my local library (and a few that I’ve only coveted online). If you know of a book I missed, please let me know. I would love to add it to my library loan reading list.

Learn with Living Books

I know you may bring a horse to the water, but you cannot make him drink. What I complain of is that we do not bring our horse to the water. We give him miserable little textbooks, mere compendiums of facts, which he is to learn off and say and produce at an examination; or we give him various knowledge in the form of warm diluents, prepared by his teacher with perhaps some grain of living thought to the gallon. And all the time we have books, books teeming with ideas fresh from the minds of thinkers upon every subject to which we can wish to introduce children.

Charlotte Mason
Schoolbooks and How They Make for Education

A child’s intercourse must always be with good books, the best that we can find. We must put into their hands the sources which we must needs use for ourselves, the best books of the best writers. For the mind is capable of dealing with only one kind of food; it lives, grows and is nourished upon ideas only; mere information is to it as a meal of sawdust to the body.

Charlotte Mason
Toward A Philosophy of Education

Browse and Enjoy

Within each subcategory, books are listed alphabetically by author. If you click on a book cover, the links take you to, where you can read reviews and other details (and where I earn a few cents of affiliate commission if you actually buy the book), but most of these books should be available through your public library or via inter-library loan. Ask a librarian to find you a copy — they love to help!

  • Picture Books and Early Readers
    From counting books to math history, picture books offer a gentle introduction to a variety of topics. Elementary and middle school students will also enjoy many of these.
  • Elementary and Middle School
    Patterns, puzzles, games, and activities — here are plenty of ideas to get your children playing around with math.
  • Problem Solving and Math Circles
    From the elementary puzzles to Olympiad-level stumpers, the problems in these books will intrigue and challenge your students.
  • High School and Beyond
    These histories, biographies, and explanations of mathematical concepts are written for an adult general audience, so most of them assume no mathematical knowledge beyond a vague memory of high school.

Our business is to give [our students] mind-stuff, and both quality and quantity are essential. Naturally, each of us possesses this mind-stuff only in limited measure, but we know where to procure it; for the best thought the world possesses is stored in books; we must open books to children, the best books; our own concern is abundant provision and orderly serving.

Charlotte Mason
Toward A Philosophy of Education

Other Lists of Living Math Books

My bookshelves are limited to what I’ve read myself or seen online, but there are so many books in the world that I can’t possibly list them all. Round out your math education with: