Once a week, I am going to share a picturebook to explore early mathematics. Let’s start Anno’s Counting Book.
I am picking this book because 1) it is wordless i.e. readers have to engage in discussing the book with their audience, as they cannot read through a story, and 2) the focus on mathematics is obvious. With time, we will move towards picturebooks with a more general focus.
The book starts with an empty landscape, with the numeral 0. The next page, numeral 1, includes a house, a cloud, a bridge. One child, one grown-up. On the next page, a second house can be seen, two trucks. And so one until the page with the numeral 12.
The drawings are quite appealing. Page after page, you can see the landscape changing with the seasons, filling up with all kind of items, full of little details that young children love exploring.
There is a neat connection, on the left, to the counting blocks children use often have at school (e.g. 3 blocks on the left) completing the other representation of 3 ( drawing of groups of 3 items in the middle, and the numeral 3 on the right).
Similar items are not always all together, providing support to discuss not only counting, but also adding. For instance, on page “4”, there are 3 birds on one corner, and one more on another corner.
I would encourage you to start with discussing the cover — what do you notice/see? what do you think this book is about? Then, discuss the first picture, focusing on Zero, often left out when counting with young children. Move to the next page. What is different on this page? What do you notice/see? Do you see a group of one? What story can you tell me that would match that picture? What do you think the child is doing? Thinking? And so on.