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Mathical Book Prize

Math + Literature = 2018 Mathical Book Awards for Ages 2-18!

2018 Mathical Book Prize Winners

What do a sneaky baby, a smelly room full of sheep, alpacas, llamas, and yaks, and a hundred billion trillion stars have in common? They are all Mathical Award Winners – or more accurately put, they are the subjects of award-winning children’s books inspiring a love of mathematics in the world around us.

The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) announced the 2018 winners today of the Mathical Book Prize, which recognizes outstanding fiction and literary nonfiction for youth ages 2-18. “We are trying to engage kids in the power and beauty of mathematics – power in that we want to give them confidence to consider and solve arithmetic, spatial, logical, structural, algebraic problems; beauty in that math can be employed to better understand and appreciate the wonders of nature and also human artistic expression, for example in fine art and music,” said Roger Strauch, MSRI board chair and chair of the Roda Group, a Berkeley venture capital firm.

The prize, now in its fourth year, is selected annually by a committee of PreK-12 teachers, librarians, mathematicians, early childhood experts, and others. This year’s honorees include the following:

For Grades 3-5, the Mathical Award Winner is A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars by Seth Fishman (HarperCollins Children's Books).

A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars is a dizzy whirl through numerical reaches kids rarely get to see — a delight!” said Jordan Ellenberg, co-chair of the Mathical Selection Committee, professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin, and author of How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking.

“Watch a crowded room of numbers completely unravel...” hinted Mike Shaughnessy, former president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and member of the Mathical committee.

  • For Pre-Kindergarten, the Mathical Award Winner is Baby Goes to Market by Atinuke (Candlewick Press).

“Children will learn about adding and subtracting when they watch people give Baby food at the market. Baby is very sneaky and puts different foods in Mama’s basket!” reported two second-grade students of Fran Wilson, a teacher at Madeira City Schools outside of Cincinnati, Ohio and Mathical committee member. 

The Mathical Book Prize is awarded by the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI), in partnership with the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), and in coordination with the Children’s Book Council (CBC).

The prize spans ages 2-18, with honors awarded for Grades 9-12, Grades 6-8, Grades 3-5, Grades K-2, and PreKindergarten titles. The Mathical list is intended as a resource for educators, parents, librarians, children, and teens.

Selected winning titles are distributed to children in need in the Bay Area with the support of First Book and the Firedoll Foundation, who also underwrite the creation of reading guides for families.

More information:

Mathical Honor Books

Mathical Award Winners and Honor Books, 2015-2018

Grades 9-12

  • 2017 winner: Genius: The Game, by Leopoldo Gout
  • 2015 winner: Nearly Gone, by Elle Cosimano

Honor titles: Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, by Margot Lee Shetterly; Meanwhile, by Jason Shiga; The Unknowns, by Benedict Carey; What Is Relativity?: An Intuitive Introduction to Einstein’s Ideas, and Why They Matter, by Jeffrey Bennett

Grades 6-8

  • 2017 winner: Mind-Boggling Numbers, by Michael J. Rosen
  • 2015 winner: Really Big Numbers, by Richard Evan Schwartz

Honor titles: Giant Pumpkin Suite, by Melanie Heuiser Hill; The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel, by Deborah Hopkinson; The Ice Castle: An Adventure in Music, by Pendred Noyce; Leonardo da Vinci Gets A Do-Over, by Mark P. Friedlander, Jr.; Mathemagic! Number Tricks,by Lynda Colgan; Navigating Early, by Clare Vanderpool; Ruby Redfort: Feel the Fear, by Lauren Child; Secrets, Lies, and Algebra (Do the Math #1), by Wendy Lichtman

Grades 3-5

  • 2018 winner: A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars, by Seth Fishman
  • 2017 winner: Which One Doesn’t Belong? A Shapes Book, by Christopher Danielson
  • 2016 winner: Secret Coders: Volume 1, by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes
  • 2015 winner: Really Big Numbers, by Richard Evan Schwartz

Honor titles: Bedtime Math: This Time It’s Personal, by Laura Overdeck; Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci, by Joseph D’Agnese; By The Numbers 3.14: 110.01 Cool Infographics Packed with STATS and Figures, by National Geographic Kids; Eat Your Math Homework: Recipes for Hungry Minds, by Ann McCallum; Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie: Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems, by J. Patrick Lewis; Just the Right Size: Why Big Animals are Big and Little Animals are Little, by Nicola Davies; Numbed!, by David Lubar; The Rookie Bookie, by L. Jon Wertheim and Tobias Moskowitz; Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer, by Kelly Jones

Grades K-2

  • 2018 winner: Sheep Won’t Sleep: Counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s, by Judy Cox
  • 2017 winner: Absolutely One Thing: Featuring Charlie and Lola, by Lauren Child
  • 2016 winner: Max’s Math, by Kate Banks
  • 2015 winner: One Big Pair of Underwear, by Laura Gehl

Honor titles: The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdős, by Deborah Heiligman; Cao Chong Weighs an Elephant, by Songju Ma Daemicke; How Many Jelly Beans? A Giant Book of Giant Numbers!, by Andrea Menotti; Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives, by Lola M. Schaefer; Shapes, Reshape!, by Silvia Borando; Zero the Hero, by Joan Holub


  • 2018 winner: Baby Goes to Market, by Atinuke
  • 2017 winner: ONE Very Big Bear, by Alice Brière-Haquet
  • 2016 winner: 8: An Animal Alphabet, by Elisha Cooper
  • 2015 winner: Have You Seen My Dragon?, by Steve Light

Honor titles: Count the Monkeys, by Mac Barnett; Count with Maisy, Cheep, Cheep, Cheep!, by Lucy Cousins; Goodnight, Numbers, by Danica McKellar; I Know Numbers, by Taro Gomi; A Mousy Mess, by Laura Driscoll; Over in a River: Flowing Out to the Sea, by Marianne Berkes

Hall of Fame titles (classic titles, across all ages): Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, by Lewis Carroll; The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster; The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle; A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle

Download Mathical flyers & more

Download the 2015-2018 Mathical Book Prize flyers to share the fun!


Mathical Book Prize Organizers

Mathematical Sciences Research Institute
National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE)
National Council for Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)
In cooperation with the Children's Book Council
Children's Book Council
Educator Reading Guides by First Book

View free Educator Resource Guides for select Mathical titles created by First Book

First Book
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