Sharing number stories

Reading a story with your child can be an enjoyable and fun experience for you both. Sharing books for just 10 or 15 minutes a day will encourage a love of reading, and of mathematics.

Research confirms that listening to and/or reading stories can have a profound effect on your child's learning from a young age. Reading aloud helps to develop your child's vocabulary and imagination. Once at school, reading will also begin to have a very positive effect on your child's ability to develop a strong sense of number and to communicate mathematically. Being able to appreciate quantity supports pupils in their learning across the whole of the Jersey Curriculum.

How can you get involved in sharing number stories?

When reading a story, be on the lookout to see as many numbers as you can. Some storybooks are based on numbers, such as Ten Seeds by Ruth Brown. This is the beautifully illustrated story of ten planted seeds, and how many grow to become sunflowers. In other books, it may ask a question based on a size or an amount in an illustration.

We hope that you will enjoy looking at some of the books we suggest below, many of which can be found being read out loud on YouTube if you don't own a copy. Take a moment to also have a look at our hints and tips.

You can find more stories and activities, e.g. Numberblocks, on our 3 to 5 year olds learning resources page and our 5 to 11 year olds learning resources page

Ten simple tips for reading maths stories

Good numeracy goes hand in hand with good literacy. This is at the heart of lifelong successful learning, and is shown to improve mental health and wellbeing, as well as being a fun and enjoyable experience. By ensuring the right environment that supports reading at home, you will be providing your child with the essential tools for success in school and later life. The link below provides some simple tips.

10 tips for reading maths picture books to young children

Don't forget subitising. This is where we just see a small number of objects (up to five) without the need to count them. Larger groups are then made by combining small groups. "I see three and three. I see six". This is an important strategy.

"Enjoy the stories and enjoy the children enjoying the stories. Read often, smile and laugh." - Development and Research in Early Math Education

Help with different ages and stages

3 to 5 year olds

At this age children are curious about books and love listening to stories.

Schools will be focusing on developing a love of stories, developing vocabulary, and showing children how books work. You can help by:

  • reading with your child every day and making it fun
  • reading and re-reading picture books, and talking about the story and the pictures
  • encouraging and praising independent attempts to recognise quantities from part or all of a simple book (even when not technically accurate)
  • encouraging subitising (seeing an amount straight away without counting up from one)

Have a look at these YouTube video books to get you started:

5 to 7 year olds

At this age children are rapidly developing their number skills.

They are learning to use strategies to quantify amounts beyond counting up from 1. E.g. "I see three and ten, I see thirteen." Read for meaning, emphasising the context that the numbers are in. You can help by:

  • listening to your child reading every day
  • encouraging more independent reading (whilst still supporting when necessary)
  • asking a question such as "how many" or "is it big enough" followed by "how do you know? " to check they understand the context of what they read
  • appearing confident, even if you do not feel it (mistakes do not need to be immediately addressed)
  • having a discussion your child about their own understanding

Have a look at these YouTube video books to get you started:

7 to 11 year olds

At this age most children have developed increasingly complex strategies to quantify an amount. It is also important for them to estimate larger amounts, with reason, predicting how an amount may change over time.

You can help by:

  • discussing the book/text and asking questions
  • modelling how you see patterns, whilst taking time to listen how how your child sees a pattern. Is this the same or is it different? Which patterns do they find most interesting?
  • asking your child to give a mathematical summary of what they are reading

Have a look at these YouTube video books to get you started:

Age 11+

At this age most young people are independent readers and the focus in secondary school is for students to progress to more specialised techniques.

You can help by:

  • encouraging your teenager to continue to read regularly, both non-fiction (possibly biograpghies), and mathematical fiction
  • discussing the book/text and asking evaluative questions
  • talking about your experiences in reasoning and problem solving. Whatever the problem, this is talking mathematically

Have a look at these suggested books to get you started:

  • Hidden Figures - Margot Lee Shetterley
  • The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets - Simon Singh
  • Letters to a Young Mathematican - Ian Stewart
  • Uncle Petros and the Goldbach Conjecture - Apostolis Doxiadis

Further guidance for thinking mathematically is provided in the Numeracy guide below.

Numeracy guide for parents and carers (English)

Numeracy guide for parents and carers (Portuguese)

Numeracy guide for parents and carers (Polish)


Children who use English as an Additional Language

It is important to support your child where you can with learning the English language.

There are many ways that you can do this. These include:

  • learning some basic words to help, e.g. number and shape names, and mathematical terms 
  • watching films in your home language and English. Watch the same films, first in your home language and then in English. Encourage your children to say the words in the opposite language to the one on screen! Make a game of it where you have two or more children
  • meeting with families who speak other languages, when possible. Encourage the children to play together. Practise your English as well as theirs with other language speakers

We know many parents speak languages other than English at home, and as shown in the examples above, it is just as important to continue to use your child’s home language as it is for them to speak English.

Choosing books

With a multitude of brilliant new and established authors, it can be difficult for children (and the adults who buy for them) to choose an appropriate book.

In Jersey, we have an excellent library service, with personnel who are always passionate about reading and extremely knowledgeable regarding new authors for different age ranges. Any good bookshop with helpful staff will also guide and support you in choosing books for children. The link below allows you to browse through books in different categories, including age and text type. If friends or relatives are stuck for a birthday present, this is a great place to start!

Maths Through Stories

DREME Family Math

The School Run


Jersey Library

Jersey Library is a great place for finding new and interesting books.

Find out more about the services and events on offer at the Jersey Library