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Reading Counts: Exposing Your Little One to Numbers through Books

March 21, 2017

Reading aloud to your young child is a great way to promote early literacy skills. But, did you know that it’s also an amazing opportunity to expose your little one to numbers and counting? In this article, we’ll talk about how children developmentally prepare to become mathematicians, and how you as a parent and/or caregiver can help facilitate their learning. One, two, three, let’s begin!

Reading aloud to your young child is a great way to promote early literacy skills. You’re exposing them to lots of new vocabulary, teaching them how a book works, and getting them excited about one day reading on their own. But the benefits of reading aloud don’t stop there. It's also an amazing opportunity to introduce your little one to numbers and counting! As children grow and develop, they become increasingly aware of the presence of numbers in the world around us, and more interested in learning just what exactly they mean!

In Susan Jindrich’s article, "How Do Children Develop?" she lists the developmental stages leading up to a child becoming a veteran counter. In the beginning stages, a child begins to count for fun, not quantity. This is called rote counting. They’ve overheard their parents and/or caregivers counting, they hear people counting at school or in the store, and they want in on the action (That’s currently where my 2 year old is--he can be overheard “counting” all kinds of things!). In the second stage, children begin to realize the purpose for counting, called meaningful counting. Kids begin to associate that numbers have meaning and can be attached to an object or a group of objects to identify their quantity.



So, how can books help your child learn about numbers and counting? The possibilities are endless! There are plenty of books specifically dedicated to teaching numeracy, but if you don’t have any, there are lots of other ways you can incorporate counting into your child’s favorite books. For example, you could count the number of animals/bugs/stars/you name it that you and your child see on any given page. Or see if your child can help you count the pages in the book (if it’s a short one!). Be sure to check with your local children’s librarian about books they recommend for exposing little ones to numbers and counting. One of my son and mine’s favorite books right now is Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light. In this delightful story, a little boy goes hunting for his dragon among the busy city streets. Each page is devoted to a number, from 1-20, and only the object to be counted is colored on the page (Emmett’s favorite page is the 17 yellow taxi cabs!).

No matter how you count with your child, your investment in their numeracy is one that is invaluable. So cuddle up, grab a favorite book, and count away! One, two, three, GO!

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Sammie is an outreach assistant with the Bringing Books to Life! program. When she’s not busy reading childrens' books to preschoolers all across Davidson County, you can find her curled up on her couch with a good book and a cup of coffee, or chasing her toddler Emmett around the backyard.