By Herbert P. Ginsburg
Reading is an opportunity for you to learn about your child’s world. Young children (roughly ages 2–6) are often described as egocentric. They see the world from a limited perspective. But adults can be equally egocentric. They often do not understand what the world looks like from a child’s point of view. As you read with — and not just to — your child, you may learn that she interprets events differently from you, that she sees things in the story that you did not, and that she learns from the story in ways you did not expect. Reading with can provide a window into your child’s mind as well as clues to nurturing her thinking.
It is important for you to read storybooks that have math learning as their primary goal. Counting books and shape books are of this type. Of course, goals are different from quality. "Anno’s Counting Book" uses beautiful illustrations to pose the challenge of finding different numbers of objects. Other counting books are conventional and tedious.
Another type of storybook does not aim to teach math explicitly, but contains important mathematical ideas embedded within the story. Goldilocks sees that the Baby Bear’s bed is the smallest, and that Mama’s bed is bigger than Baby’s but smaller than Papa’s. Also, Baby Bear is smaller than Mama, who is in turn smaller than Papa. The beds are in increasing order of size, and so are the bears. The order is more complex than it initially appears: Mama is both bigger than Baby Bear and smaller than Papa Bear. Also, there is a simple correlation between the size of the bears and the size of the beds: the bigger the bear, the bigger the bed.
So, the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears contains some fundamentally important math ideas, some of which children find difficult, about relative size, order and the relations between two sequences.