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Counting Books

One Mole Digging a Hole
by Julia Donaldson and Nick Sharratt
Essentially this is a rhyming counting book, but it’s so much more than that. All the creatures are busy working in the garden, digging, raking, gathering fruit, flowers and vegetables until the final spread where we see them all, sporting sunglasses and enjoying a well-earned rest and a glass of juice in the sunshine – gardening’s thirsty work after all. There’s a wealth of humorous detail to explore and enjoy in Nick Sharratt’s highly patterned, glowingly garish pictures: his bees wielding shears are just bee-a-u-tiful!
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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We All Went on Safari
by Laurie Krebs, illustrated by Julia Cairns
(Barefoot Books)
Subtitled A Counting Journey through Tanzania, this glorious picture book is so much more than a counting book. We share a day, from sunrise to sunset with Arusha, Mosi, Tumpe and their Maasai friends walking in the exquisitely painted East African landscapes, encountering en route a leopard, ostriches, giraffes, lions, hippos, wildebeests, zebras, warthogs, monkeys and elephants before gathering round a goodnight campfire in the dusky purple glow of early evening. The patterned rhyming text is a delight to read aloud and Julia Cairns’illustrations exude her love and respect for the peoples, flora and fauna of Africa. Her choice of colours, particularly the red of the children’s dress, is very powerful
As well as appropriate numerals, the Swahili number names are given and at the end of the book is a spread giving the Swahili name and interesting information for each animal featured. There is also a page about the Maasai people, one giving the meanings of the friends’ names, a double spread with facts and a map of Tanzania, and a final ‘Counting in Swahili’ page.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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Handa’s Hen
by Eileen Browne
(Walker Books)
One morning when Handa goes to feed Grandma’s black hen Mondi she doesn’t come, so, together with her friend Akeyo, Handa sets out to find her. As they search the village, fields and bush they come upon ‘two fluttery butterflies, ‘three stripy mice,’… nine shiny starlings,’. Then finally as they walk sadly back from the water hole, Handa hears, ‘cheep cheep, cheep cheep…’ and when they peep into the undergrowth there is Mondi with ten fluffy chicks.
An absorbing hide and seek counting story with glowing water colour paintings of the flora and fauna of a south-west Kenyan village and its environs. Explore the beautiful landscape and see how many animals you can spot altogether in this highly welcome sequel to Handa’s Surprise.
Number range 1-10
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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So Many Babies
by Martian Selway
(Red Fox - Random House)
Mrs Badger didn't know what to do with all her extra rooms until she read the newspaper. "So many babies, she read, needed care and she'd so much to offer, so much to share." She starts with just one baby but one by one more children arrive until she has so many that she needs to build an extension. The delightful rhyming text combines beautifully with the pictures of her growing multi-species family to produce a book full of love, affection and fun which any child will enjoy. The counting element adds an extra bonus and the whole book is ideal for use with children who are adopted or fostered.
Number range 1-10, 20
Ages 2-6 and older children with special needs
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Mimi's Book of Counting
by Emma Chichester Clark
(Andersen Press)
Grandma is looking after Mimi, a little monkey who is her one and only dumpling. Together they find things to count as Mimi helps in the kitchen, eats tea in the garden, has a bath and finally goes to bed. The reassuring familiarity of events appeals to very young children, making this a good introduction to counting. (Mimi looks 2 or 3.) Our two year old tester wanted it read again straight away so it's good that the pages are sturdy enough to withstand small fingers. Ages 1-4
Number range 1-10
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Pirates at Sea
by Sally Hewitt and Serena Feneziani
(Belitha Press)
It's not just pirates you count in this book. The large light-hearted pictures are packed with other countable objecs too. They go from 0 to 10, then from 10 back to 0 again with a few extra puzzle pictures in between. Fun for practising counting and not at all babyish so it's suitable for older children with special needs.
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Ten Seeds
by Ruth Brown
Minimal text and outstanding pictures tell the story of ten seeds planted in the ground. One by one, as they germinate and grow, they fall victim to problems ranging from pigeons to greenfly until finally the only plant left flowers and produces ten seeds to start the cycle again. A delightful book which introduces counting backwards from ten, subtracting one and the life cycle of plants. Its thick, sturdy pages are excellent for tiny hands.
Ages 1-5
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Rocket Countdown
by Nick Sharratt
10, 9, 8 ... There are plenty of flaps to lift and tabs to pull as the reader helps an astronaut get ready to blast off into space. The bright bold pictures and simple text combine well to produce enjoyable practice at counting backwards for children from 2-6 and older children with special needs. Sturdy enough to withstand plenty of use.
Number range 10-1
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Click for Writing for ChildrenLittle Miss Muffet Counts to Ten
by Emma Chichester Clark (Andersen Press)
In this story, Little Miss Muffet isn't scared away by the spider and keeps eating while she is visited by an increasing number of other animals. They all stay around and can be spotted and counted again in subsequent pictures until the crocodiles arrive and frighten everyone away. But the crocs turn out to be friendly and everyone comes back to enjoy Miss Muffet's birthday party. The rhyming text uses the familiar rhythm of the nursery rhyme and is a delight to read aloud while the lovely illustrations provide plenty to talk about and count. This book is fun to use at home and excellent for use in school as it offers a wealth of possible discussion and extension work in literacy and numeracy.  Highly recommended for 3-7 year olds and rated a must for Key Stage 1 by the teacher who tested it.

Number range 1-10 (with thanks to Jan)
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Click for Writing for ChildrenNine Naughty Kittens 
by Linda Jennings and Caroline Jayne Church
(Little Tiger Press)
This excellent book uses cleverly designed half-page flaps to show the connection between counting and adding one (something not all children spot without a bit of a nudge). The maths is sound, the pictures are funny and the rhyming text is good to read aloud. A good choice for 2-6 year olds and could be used with slightly older children with special needs
Number range 1-10
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Click for Writing for ChildrenEmeka's Gift by Ifeoma Onyefulu
(Frances Lincoln)
Emeka is a young Nigerian boy who goes in search of a present for his grandmother. The objects he looks at provide the counting element in this book while the simple story and excellent colour photographs give a realistic idea of life in a Nigerian village. A useful multicultural book for linking numeracy, literacy and geography. Especially good for children with African ancestry.
Number range 1-10    Ages 3-7
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Click for Writing for ChildrenFun with Numbers by Peter Patilla and Brigitte McDonald
(Belitha Press)
This imaginative book is a series of puzzle pictures which offer a wide range of counting activities. Each puzzle is enough of a challenge to make children think, easy enough to avoid frustration and hard enough to make this a book to tackle a bit at a time rather than all at once. Good for 4-6 year olds who can already count a little and sufficiently unbabyish to suit older children with special needs.
Number range 1-10
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Click for Writing for ChildrenOut for the Count by Kathryn Cave and Chris Riddell
Frances Lincoln
When Tom can't sleep, he tries counting sheep but the sheep come and take him through the bedroom cupboard to another world where he meets tigers, pirates and other hazards in large numbers. The illustrations are wonderful - huge spreads with gorgeous animals and an inset picture with shadow creatures which are grouped in tens to make counting easier. A marvelous book which practices place value in a rhyming text which is a delight to read aloud. Children will love it. Ages 4-8
Number range 12, 23, 36, 45, 54, 61, 70, 88 and 97
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