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May 15, 2018 BOOKLIST
Find more Classroom Connections
How do we tell a cheetah from a tiger, a zebra from a horse, or even the next number after two, four, six, eight? Patterns! Much like learning letters, shapes, or opposites, recognizing patterns and how they form is a concept that can be introduced to young children. The books presented here define patterns, giving fun and beautiful examples both in everyday objects and the natural world; they also provide opportunities for children to identify and make their own patterns. Other titles reveal the intricacies and mysteries of patterns, from fractals and the Fibonacci sequence to symmetry and tessellations. Throughout them all, readers will begin to see connections among science, mathematics, and art.
A-B-A-B-A: A Book of Pattern Play. By Brian P. Cleary. Illus. by Brian Gable. 2010. Lerner/Millbrook, $16.95 (9780822578802). PreS–Gr. 2.
As in his other Math Is CATegorial titles, Cleary pairs peppy rhyming verse with silly cartoon cats to introduce the concept of patterns. After showing how colors, shapes, and things can repeat to make patterns, he then focuses on numbers and explains how skip counting (counting by twos, fives, tens, etc.) is also a type of pattern. Several concluding pages let readers identify some of these patterns.
Bees, Snails, and Peacock Tails: Patterns and Shapes . . . Naturally. By Betsy Franco. Illus. by Steve Jenkins. 2008. Simon & Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry, $16.99 (9781416903864). PreS–Gr. 2.
Franco’s spirited poems combine with Jenkins’ textured collage work to introduce patterns and shapes found in the natural world. Double-page spreads focus on one kind of animal and its attributes, from worker bees building a hexagonal-patterned hive to the repeating diamond shapes on a rattlesnake. An appended section explains the scientific facts behind each animal poem.
Hockey Patterns. By Mark Weakland. 2013. Capstone, $26.65 (9781476502274). PreS–Gr. 1.
Children will be drawn to this entry in the Sports Illustrated Kids Rookie Books series because of its high-quality photographs with plenty of dramatic player action. Some include hockey equipment, rinks, and fans. A few sentences of text point out patterns in various places, from the referee’s shirt to the arena seats to the equipment shelf. As a bonus, good sportsmanship is emphasized.
Lots and Lots of Zebra Stripes: Patterns in Nature. By Stephen R. Swinburne. 1998. Boyds Mills, $15.95 (9781563979804). PreS–Gr. 2.
After defining the concept of patterns, this gorgeous photo-essay with simple text offers numerous examples of patterns found throughout nature, from the spots of a cheetah to the stripes of a zebra to the spiral of a spider web. Swinburne also explains the function of some patterns, such as how tree rings show age, and how patterns are everywhere, even in city strolls.
Lots of Spots. By Lois Ehlert. Illus. by the author. 2010. Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane, $17.99 (9781442402898). PreS–Gr. 1.
Each of the 50 animals featured in this book sport distinctive markings, from stripes and rings to the titular spots. Each spread comprises a vibrant collage illustration of the creature, accompanied by a poem of four short, catchy lines. An author’s note explains how the patterned markings can serve as camouflage, as a warning, or to attract mates, while some are just simply beautiful.
My First Book of Patterns. By Bobby George and June George. Illus. by Boyoun Kim. 2017. Phaidon, $16.95 (9780714872490). PreS–Gr. 1.
This deceptively simple board book begins with a line, then shows that a lot of lines make stripes. It follows with other geometric shapes, depicting how squares make checks and circles make polka dots, and even highlights such patterns as zigzags making chevrons and diamonds making harlequins. Vibrant, retro-style illustrations reflect the patterns in circus, beach, city, and other scenes.
Patterns. By Joanna Brundle. 2017. KidHaven, $19.68 (9781534521926). PreS–Gr. 1.
Although this title in the First Math series doesn’t define the concept, it is filled with good examples of stripes, spirals, and other patterns. Crisp, colorful photographs, many with close-up views, reveal how these patterns can be found everywhere, from ice-cream cones to bathrooms. The book also explains how numbers, time, and seasons follow patterns. It ends with a simple activity.
Patterns. By Sara Pistoia. 2013. Child’s World, $25.64 (9781623235338). PreS–Gr. 1.
Part of the Simply Math series, this title introduces the concept of patterns using real-world applications, such as counting and calendars. More interesting, however, is the explanation of how patterns help us recognize things in our world. For example, a zebra would look like a horse without its stripes. Guided questions throughout help children think about and extend the concept.
Patterns at the Seashore. By Dawn Bluemel Oldfield. 2015. Bearport, $26.60 (9781627243353). PreS–Gr. 2.
This title in the Seeing Patterns All Around series introduces the concept with examples of patterns that children might notice at the beach (e.g., red-and-white stripes on a row of deck chairs) or in the ocean (e.g., white spots and lines on a whale shark’s skin). The colorful photographs also give examples of different types of patterns, including alternating, spiral, and irregular.
Patterns in Winter. By Tim Mayerling. 2017. Jump!/Tadpole, $16.95 (9781620317563). PreS–Gr. 1.
Using an early reader format, this entry in the Patterns in the Seasons series allows children to recognize patterns as they relate to the winter season. The repetitive text asks them to look at an item from winter (e.g., socks) and identify its pattern (e.g., stripes). Crisp photos provide context clues. A concluding spread of youngsters in a snow scene lets readers recap their observation skills.
Spectacular Spots. By Susan Stockdale. Illus. by the author. 2015. Peachtree, $15.95 (9781561458172). PreS–Gr. 2.
From the Appaloosa horse to the calico crab to the blue poison dartfish, large, stylized illustrations depict 19 species of animals with spotted patterns. The text consists of brief, descriptive two- to three-word phrases that compose a bouncy, rhyming narrative. A concluding spread summarizes information about each animal. For animals with striped patterns, see the author’s Stripes of All Types (2013).
Spotty, Stripy, Swirly: What Are Patterns? By Jane Brocket. 2012. Lerner/Millbrook, $25.26 (9780761346135). PreS–Gr. 2.
The focus is on patterns in this entry in the Jane Brocket’s Clever Concepts series. The large-print text explains what patterns are, how they vary, and why they are useful to people. But what really makes these concepts clear are the vivid photographs with rich colors and textures of fun and practical items, from a cake decorated with candy to the geometric arrangement of old ceramic tiles.
A Star in My Orange: Looking for Nature’s Shapes. By Dana Meachen Rau. 2002. Lerner/Millbrook, $22.90 (9780822559924). PreS–Gr. 2.
Rather than concentrating on geometric basics, like circles and squares, Rau looks to nature for inspiration and finds stars in an orange half, a starfish, and a snowflake. Through simple text, she also notes spiral and branch patterns in other natural forms, all of which are reflected in well-focused and often up-close photographs. Concluding pages discuss these and other patterns in more detail.
ZigZag ZooBorns! Zoo Baby Colors and Patterns. By Andrew Bleiman. Illus. by Chris Eastland. 2017. Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane, $13.99 (9781481431057). PreS–Gr. 2.
Seventeen vulnerable and endangered species from zoos around the globe introduce colors and patterns in this ZooBorns title. An adorable full-page photo of the animal faces a few sentences of text that give a physical description and a little information about the animal. Color and pattern words are highlighted. Concluding pages provide more details about their conservation status.
Practicing with Patterns
The Crayola Patterns Book. By Mari Schuh. 2017. Lerner, $26.65 (9781512432855). PreS–Gr. 2.
As one would expect with a book involving Crayola crayons, bold colors highlight the topic of patterns. This entry in the Crayola Concepts series describes how patterns form. Vibrant photos, many from nature, provide visual reinforcement, while patterns drawn with Crayola crayons give prompts for children to observe and draw their own patterns, making connections between math and art.
How Are They the Same? By Bobbie Kalman. 2011. Crabtree, $15.95 (9780778795810). PreS–K.
Packed with brightly colored, high-quality photos, the slender, square title in the My World series encourages children to identify similarities and differences among animals. Aimed at new readers, it is from the Level D set and presents basic vocabulary to describe patterns and textures as well as body parts of animals and how they begin life. Extension activities are appended.
One Is Not a Pair: A Spotting Book. By Britta Teckentrup. Illus. by the author. 2017. Candlewick/Big Picture, $14.99 (9780763693190). PreS–Gr. 2.
Two stanzas of rhymed verse face an array of objects (17 spotted toadstools; 41 brightly colored socks) displayed against a plain background. Almost all those objects have duplicates, but one is unique. The challenge is to find it using observation, pattern recognition, and elimination. Each spread ramps up the difficulty! The series also includes The Odd One Out (2014) and Where’s the Pair? (2015).
Red Car, Red Bus. By Susan Steggall. Illus. by the author. 2012. Frances Lincoln, $17.99 (9781847801845). PreS–K.
Steggall’s vehicle-related picture book uses minimal text (“yellow van, yellow car, red car, red bus”) to introduce colors and patterns. The real tale is hidden in her remarkable torn-paper illustrations. As the vehicles continue through a decidedly English town, readers can’t help but imagine the stories behind the individuals along the street. Amusingly, the art and text come full circle.
Pattern Variations: The Fibonacci Sequence, Tessellations, Fractals, and More
Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci. By Joseph D’Agnese. Illus. by John O’Brien. 2010. Holt, $16.99 (9780805063059). Gr. 3–5.
Written in a modern idiom and illustrated with hatch-marked artwork, this picture-book biography of medieval Europe’s greatest mathematician explains the numerical sequence that is found throughout nature and still bears Fibonacci’s name. It offers a visual solution to his most famous mathematical word problem and closes with a page of relevant activities for young naturalists.
Get in Shape. By Rob Colson. 2016. Scholastic/Children’s Press, $8.95 (9780531233184). Gr. 5–8.
With a focus on two- and three-dimensional shapes, this entry in the Math Everywhere series gives basic property facts about geometric shapes and explains how to calculate their perimeter, surface area, or volume. What students will enjoy most are the real-world connections and related topics, including tessellation and how polygons can be arranged to form beautiful patterns.
Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature. By Sara C. Campbell. Illus. by the author. 2010. Boyds Mills, $17.95 (9781590787526). Gr. 2–5.
Using color photos of flowers with different numbers of petals to illustrate the beginning of the Fibonacci sequence, this book follows with photos highlighting the different spirals seen on pinecones, sunflowers, and pineapples, and it includes a picture showing the chambers in a cut-away nautilus shell. The photos gradually increase in size in proportion to the numbers in the sequence.
I See a Pattern Here. By Bruce Goldstone. Illus. by the author. 2015. Holt, $17.99 (9780805092097). Gr. 2–5.
Accompanied by gorgeous color photos from the natural world and depicting a variety of world cultures, this book begins with an explanation of patterns. It goes beyond most other books on the topic by explaining elements of pattern making, such as translation, rotation, reflection, symmetry, scaling, and tessellation. The final pages challenge readers to make their own patterns from myriad objects.
Mysterious Patterns. By Sarah C. Campbell. Illus. by Richard P. Campbell. 2014. Boyds Mills, $16.95 (9781620916278). Gr. 3–5.
After introducing classic geometric shapes, the author explains Mandelbrot’s observations of fractals, a concept related to patterns in which a fractal shape has repeated smaller parts that look like the whole shape. Clear color photos from nature provide examples, such as a broccoli crown and lightning. The book concludes with directions for making a fractal and more info on Mandelbrot.
Shapes in Math, Science, and Nature. By Catherine Sheldrick Ross. Illus. by Bill Slavin. 2014. Kids Can, $24.95 (9781771381246). Gr. 4–7.
This compendium brings together three colorful books originally published separately: Circles (1993), Triangles (1994), and Squares (1996). Each section leads off with a close-up look at its subject before touching upon a variety of geometric-related topics, including patterns, fractals, and Fibonacci numbers. Short narratives, challenges, and hands-on activities keep students engaged.
Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature. By Joyce Sidman. Illus. by Beth Krommes. 2011. HMH, $16.99 (9780547315836). PreS–Gr. 3.
Each section of this free-verse text begins with the words “A spiral” and considers one facet of the shape in the natural world, from curving fern leaves to grasping elephant trunks to a twisting tornado. The lyrical descriptions are matched with striking scratchboard illustrations. Concluding pages of notes expand on the book’s ideas and briefly describe the pattern called the Fibonacci sequence.
Angela Leeper is the Director of the Curriculum Materials Center at the University of Richmond (Va.).
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