Fractions can be one of the most difficult concepts for kids to understand. Often there is a disconnect between the fraction activities that we do in school, and how fractions are used in real life. If we want students to understand how important fractions are in everyday life, then we must give them opportunities to see how we use them everyday. Picture books are a fantastic way to do that.
Luckily, there are a lot of math read alouds available to teachers. However, without flipping through the book, it can be difficult to know which one will be relevant to our students. That’s where I come in! I recently purchased seven of the top fraction read alouds that showed up for me on Amazon. In this post, I will provide a review of each one, so that you can make an educated decision before you do any ordering.
Give Me Half by Stuart J. Murphy
Give Me Half is a good book for kids who are just learning about equal sharing. This book focuses on halves only and includes situations that most kids will be able to relate to in real life.
Extension Idea: Talk about how other things in your classroom could be divided in half.
Most Useful For: This book is best-suited to very young children who are ready to learn about halves.
A Fraction's Goal - Parts of A Whole
This is a great book to introduce students to lots of different, relevant scenarios where we see fractions. Fractions are shown to readers in many different ways, and the author also touches briefly on the equivalent fractions 2/4 and 1/2 and the terms numerator and denominator.
Extension Ideas: Extend the part in the book about baking by bringing out some measuring cups and having students investigate with them! Provide rice or something else for students to measure. Ask questions such as, “How many thirds will it take to make one whole cup?” or “Is 5/8 less than one-half or greater than one-half?”
Most Useful For: This book is a cute way to introduce fractions, but could definitely also be used as reinforcement once students have already learned the basics.
Ready to Take Fractions to the Next Level?
Sir Cumference and the Fraction Faire by Cindy Neushwander
Sir Cumference and the Fraction Faire is an excellent book to demonstrate equivalent fractions and comparing fractions. A main theme that is reinforced is that the bigger the denominator is, the smaller the piece is. This book provides many opportunities to pause and chat with your students about which fraction is bigger.
Extension Ideas: In the story, the earl asks the crowd to hold their slip of paper (with a fraction on it) and line up by number size. Try this activity with your class! Give them each a piece of paper with a fraction written on it. Without talking, have them line up in order from least to greatest. If you want to add a competitive component, time them to do it, and then switch fraction cards and see if they can beat their time when they try again.
Most Useful For: This book is definitely written for students who are beyond the simple basics of fractions. If your students are comparing fractions and learning about equivalence, this book will work well in your classroom.
Fractions in Disguise by Edward Einhorn
I love this book by Edward Einhorn. It is the story of George Cornelius Factor, who has created an ingenius “reducer” which can find fractions that are in disguise. For example, the fraction 3/21 is no match for the reducer, which instantly reveals that it is actually a 1/7 in disguise.
There is SO much math in this fun picture book, that you could easily spend 20-30 minutes reading and testing the “fractions in disguise” with your students. Try giving each student a mini whiteboard that they can use while you read this book. Pause after each fraction that George finds, and see if your students can predict what the reducer will discover!
Extension Idea: Have kids create three other “fractions in disguise.” Or give students a fraction such as 1/4 and ask them to each come up with a different way that it could be disguised.
Most Useful For: This book is definitely not suited for students who are just beginning to learn about fractions, but it is fantastic for upper elementary students who understand equivalent fractions. The students who will get the most out of it are those who have already been introduced to simplifying or reducing fractions. This will help them understand and be entertained by the storyline of this book.
Full House by Dayle Ann Dodds
Full House is a beautifully illustrated picture book that shows exactly how fractions are relevant to us in real life. Throughout the book, we follow Miss Bloom who runs the Strawberry Inn. As she welcomes each new guest, her inn slowly fills up one-sixth at a time until it is completely full.
The author has included the fractions in number form to help kids make connections between the situation and what it looks like as a fraction.
Extension Idea: Talk about other places that you might see sixths. In this book we see sixths in the rooms that are being filled and the cake that is eaten, but where else could we see them?
Most Useful For: This book is most useful to introduce beginning fraction concepts.
Whole-Y Cow! Fractions are Fun by Taryn Souders
Whole-Y Cow is the story of an adventurous cow who encounters fractions throughout her day. This book has lots of opportunity for student interaction with the questions that appear on each page. For example, students will use the butterflies, spots on the cow, and hurt legs to create fraction statements.
This book is not limited to halves and fourths, but also includes thirds, fifths, sixths, and eighths.
Extension Idea: Have students create another page that could be added to this book! Your students can create their own fraction adventure for the cow, write it in the same rhyming format as the rest of the book, and then incorporate fractions!
Most Useful For: This picture book is most useful for students who are learning what the numerator and denominator means, and how to write and say these fractions.
Emma's Fractions by JL Cornish
Emma’s Fractions is a cute, quick read. It would be great for an introductory lesson on fractions who have not learned fraction concepts before. Students will see that the parts of a whole must be equal. They will also see that halves, fourths, and eighths can be created using repeated halving. Cornish has also included two pages of discussion questions and learning activities for your students to do after reading.
Extension Idea: In one part of the book, Emma cuts a cake into halves, fourths, and eighths. Give students a circular paper and have them decorate it as Emma’s cake. Then cut it into halves. Then cut it into halves again to make quarters. Then cut those pieces in half to make eighths.
Most Useful For: This book is most useful for students who have no prior knowledge of fractions, or with those who are struggling to understand what they mean.