Math has a reputation for being closed minded. It’s true that math is not open to multiple perspectives or interpretation, such as English or history, but it does involve studying relationships, scrutinizing symbols and shapes, and, of course, solving problems. These are three areas in which girls can excel!
Educational studies report a gender gap between girls and the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). However, researchers are finding that “improving girls’ beliefs about their abilities could alter their choices and performance.” So a good way to build mathematical confidence in your daughter, niece, or granddaughter would be to give her an opportunity to read about girls and boys who love math. Who knows – maybe she’ll be a little more hopeful and confident when she enters the math classroom next fall.
Heroes and Heroines Who Live for Math
“Hannah, Divided”, by Adele Griffin, is an historical fiction novel set in a rural farm town circa 1934. It invites the reader to attend Hannah Bennett’s one-room schoolhouse where she shares her math obsession with fellow students. Sadly, Hannah is not celebrated for her gift in math, but is viewed as mentally challenged because she can’t read. As the story progresses, a wonderful opportunity arrives for Hannah. This is an uplifting story about believing in yourself and finding your strengths.
“Do the Math” is a two-book series by Wendy Lichtman. Lichtman’s first book, “Secrets, Lies, and Algebra“, introduces the reader to Tess, an eighth grade math whiz. Tess is a normal girl with friends, crushes and a love for math. She examines her teenage experiences through the lens of math, which makes this a unique read. Lichtman is even creative with the chapter titles by naming them after math concepts, such as chapter 1: Inequalities.
“Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture: A Novel of Mathematical Obsession” is an international bestseller written by Greek author Apostolos Doxiadi. This mystery novel earned high acclaim from the Mathematical Association of America:
“The book is really the story of two generations of obsession: One, a quest for the solution to a mathematical problem; the other, a young man’s search for the truth about the uncle his family shuns.”
This novel is a recommended teen or adult read and is written in a simple format for anyone who enjoys the mystery genre.
“The Phantom Tollbooth”, by Norton Juster is a modern classic. As Maurice Sendak, author of ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’ wrote: “Tollbooth is a product of time, and a place that fills me with fierce nostalgia. Tollbooth is pure gold.” Discover for yourself the story of Milo and his adventures.
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time“, by Mark Haddon, is a captivating story about a 15-year-old autistic savant named Christopher John Francis Boon. Christopher has a love for knowledge and facts, especially an obsession with prime numbers, but lacks understanding of human emotion. In this tale, he uses his intellectual abilities to defend himself and his innocence to neighbors who suspect him of killing a local dog. This is an ALA Alex Award winner.
Renee Lienhard is a Collection Development Analyst with OverDrive.