There are zero purple polka-dotted elephants in this post.

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Betsy Franco does a fantastic job here of explaining a math concept in a way that feels like poetry. Zero is not necessarily an easy concept for young children. You can’t count to zero. Franco here demonstrates zero in ways children can easily understand: zero is the leaves on the tree in autumn, zero is the bikes in the bike rack on the last day of school, zero is the sound snowflakes make on your mittens. The simple watercolor illustrations and spare text make for a book that is beautiful to read and  that enhances a mathematical concept.

We were reading about zero because David and I have started using Life of Fred for a math supplement. If you don’t know Fred, it’s a funny quirky approach to math. David adores it. The concepts presented are sometimes deceptively simple and the elementary books can be read through very fast. However, one of the things I’ve liked about Fred is that it’s opened the door to talking about math and playing with math on our own. One of the concepts presented in Life of Fred:Apples was the idea that sets of zero are the most common sets. One exercise was to play a game where one person thought of a set of one and the other had to think of three sets of zero to go with it. Set of one: Mommy has one nose. Sets of zero: Mommy has zero purple polka-dotted noses. Mommy has zero elephants sitting on her nose. Mommy has zero roses growing out of her nose. You get the idea. Much hilarity for a five year old.

For more great juvenile nonfiction check out Nonfiction Monday at Rasco from RIF.

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