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Have you ever stopped to think about a million? This gigantic number creeps into our everyday language (Gee, a million thanks … It took a million years to get there!). But what is it? And what do kids need to know about the notion of a million? Why should they care?

Frankly, I never thought about how much a million represented and am not sure I even cared. That is until I read a book called How Much is a Million? (opens in a new window) by David Schwartz, illustrated by Steven Kellogg (HarperCollins, 1985). With Marvelosissimo the Mathematical Magician in the lead, a group of kids learn about and demonstrate the astounding, amazing, and engaging scope of a million, making the unfathomable more concrete.

Schwartz and Kellogg will engage even the most mathematically indifferent among us. The way they conceptualize a number beyond us is placed firmly within a child’s grasp — and interests. For example, kids like to count but it would take 23 days to count to a million. A fishbowl big enough to hold a million goldfish would have room for a whale.

Engaging learners, allowing kids to solve problems creatively, making room for thinking outside of the proverbial box, this is what makes learning fun. And books can make that happen. In fact that’s just what student teachers at Glasgow University (opens in a new window) discovered as they worked with elementary students. You can find this and other related articles in Today’s Reading News.

I’ve got a million more ideas … well, lots at least. But I’ll share more thoughts on Millions some time in the future!

About the Author

Reading Rockets’ children’s literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids’ books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

Publication Date
January 11, 2007