STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books

Math Before Bedtime


Reading a story at bedtime is a wonderful nightly ritual that helps children get ready for sleep. The rhythm of language and the sound of a parent’s voice help calm and soothe even the most rambunctious child (OK – some may require a second story…) and, according to literacy experts, reading aloud helps your child learn to read.

bedtime math a

Bedtime Math
by Laura Overdeck, Illus by Jim Paillot
ages 3-8
Feiwel & Friends, 2013

If it works for language literacy, why not math literacy? That’s what Laura Overdeck wondered a few years ago, so she began telling her children math stories each night. The stories ended with a problem that they could figure out as they snuggled beneath their blankies. After all, says Laura, we count sheep when we can’t sleep. Why not count something else?

Laura collected some of her best math stories and put them into her new book, Bedtime Math appropriately subtitled A Fun Excuse to Stay Up Late. She pairs kid-friendly stories with three levels of age-appropriate math problems. There are problems for wee ones, problems for little kids, and problems for big kids – with no age levels attached because, as Laura points out, everyone has different math abilities.

There are math problems about tossing spaghetti at the wall and walking dogs. There are problems about the weather and roller coasters and popcorn. There are more than 100 problems in all… and (very important for some of us) an answer key at the back with equations used to solve the problems!

Laura begins the book with a wonderful introduction that explains how bedtime math got started and why math literacy is every bit as important as language literacy. “We never hear educated adults announce, ‘You know, I’m just not that good at reading’,” she write. “And yet, it’s considered perfectly reasonable for those same educated adults to say, ‘I’m just not good at math.’ Why?”

If reading to our kids can increase their reading ability, then playing around with math before bedtime should increase their math literacy. And doing math does not get kids all wound up – because this math is not required! Numbers are soothing and predictable, says Laura, and math problems give kids a reason to settle down and focus.

The best thing about this book: you don’t have to do math at bedtime! You can do it at breakfast, or in the car driving. And you don’t have to think up a problem – you can open the book to a story and voila! there’s a problem ready-made (with handy dandy answers at the bottom of the page).

Best thing #2 – Laura has an awesome website where she posts nightly bedtime math problems. You can even sign up to get daily math problems delivered into your email box so you can keep doing bedtime math while waiting for her second book to come out. Can’t wait for the book? Go to Bedtime Math.

Check out my interview with Laura Overdeck over at Archimedes Notebook. And check the comments for this blog to see what books and STEM resources other bloggers are reviewing for STEM Friday.

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Author: Sue Heavenrich

I write about science and nature for children and their families. Represented by Heather Cashman at Storm Literary Agency.

2 thoughts on “Math Before Bedtime

  1. It’s too early for snow (midwest blizzards aside) – but never too early to read about penguins! Today, a review of “About Penguins” by Cathryn & John Sill over at Sally’s Bookshelf.

  2. Oh my, Bedtime Math sounds wonderful! Obviously a lot of thought went into it. I’m off to your interview and the website as soon as I finish here.

    I have Show Me Space by Steve Kortenkamp (Capstone) today at It is organized as an encyclopedia, just packed with cool pictures.