Charlie Piechart and the Case of The Missing Pizza Slice by Eric Comstock and Marilyn Sadler with illustrations by Eric Comstock is a book that clearly states its math concept in the title. This book also has the qualities I look for in a well-written picture book:
The main character solves his own problems. The first problem Charlie encounters is deciding which friend (out of four) to invite for pizza night.
Lessons Available;Story Shines
New concepts and information are presented matter of factly. If a child isn't ready for the fraction concepts in the book, they will probably still enjoy the story; it's a mystery with clues hidden on every page. When I read it for fun, I ask kids if they think they know what happened to the missing pizza slice. It is neat to see listeners catch on to the clues and enthusiastically determine the culprit before the story ends.
After Reading: Conversations to Spark Curiosity
Moving from reading the story to introducing additional math/fraction activities will depend on the development of the child:
Some kids are ready to learn about fractions in a more formal way. There is a corresponding handout prepared by Harper Collins.
If your listener is not ready for formal instruction, this book can be a starting point for interesting conversations. Here's a sequence of discussions about fractions.
Start with actual objects that need to be divided. Next time you have pizza, talk about how to divide the pizza equally between all the people who want pizza. This also works with fruit: apples, oranges, grapes, etc. Discuss how many people will be eating the fruit and cut/divide fruit accordingly.
Next, it is a good idea to give kids some hands on interaction. Here is a fun pizza fraction activity that blogger Kim Staten has prepared on
Finally, start to introduce the concept of pie charts. Kids can learn to make them by drawing a simple circle and dividing the chart into equal sections to express things in their environment. Explaining how pie charts are used in science or business helps kids look for them in books, magazines and other places. You can ask them to keep an eye out for pie charts they find, and they will be excited to share what they find.
For listeners that are ready for more advanced concepts, here is an article about scientists who invented a Mathematically Perfect Way to Cut Pizza.
Book Drop Information:
Charlie Piechart and the Case of The Missing Pizza Slice will be dropped in a little free library near an elementary school in Des Moines, IA. The location will be across from an Elementary School named after a president. Tweet an idea for a place to drop future picture books near a school or to family that could benefit from the book. Follow along on twitter using #bookdropforkids.
Cup of Leadership is a blog for people who lead children.
Deanne Bryce is a writer for young children and an advocate for personal leadership at all ages. This post is part of a project called Book Drops for Kids. The project promotes using picture books to inspire interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) thinking.
At least once a month a picture book is purchased from an independent book store and “dropped” in a little library to for someone to use. STEM lesson plans for these books are posted on Cup of Leadership. Check the Facebook page to see other books that have been dropped.