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I don't review books I don't like!
*****= An all-time favorite
****The Best of Times
Math Strategies That Multiply
by Greg Tang
Illustrated by Harry Briggs
Reviewed December 21, 2002.
A Sonderbooks' Best Book of 2002 (#1, Children's Nonfiction)
Scholastic Press, New York, 2002. 32 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (J 513.213 TAN)
Here’s a book I wish I had thought of writing. The author’s note in the front of the book says it well: “I wrote The Best of Times to help kids master their times tables. But instead of taking a short-term approach based on repetition and memorization, my focus is on the longer-term and helping children develop a sounder, more intuitive understanding of multiplication. I use poems and pictures to convey and clarify concepts, and throughout the book, I challenge readers to apply what they’ve learned so they see firsthand how fun and rewarding problem-solving can be.”
Greg Tang beautifully, simply and clearly demonstrates not tricks but concepts to easily help you multiply (in your head) numbers of any size times factors from zero to ten. For multiplying times five, for example, just multiply times ten, then cut it in half. To multiply times eight, simply double three times. To multiply times nine, multiply times ten, then subtract the original number.
He presents these ideas starting with zero and working up in a way that is not overwhelming. My own eight-year-old, who hasn’t studied multiplication formally yet, was right with me up to times 7, then said it was too hard for him, but was willing to read the book and watch me do it. I think this book would be great as a child learns his or her times tables, making all of those numbers make sense, not just using rote memory.
As for those who already know their times tables, it was fun even for me to use these techniques and see how quickly I could come up with the answer to the challenge questions. Quick, what’s 9 x 34?
I’ve read about these techniques in books for adults. Here’s a nice simple presentation of the ideas for kids. Bravo!
Other books by Greg Tang:
Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund. All