Children are fascinated with number symbols and how they work. In environments where number play is encouraged, pre-schoolers can experiment with counting up and counting down, group by two’s and three’s, and be creative young mathematicians. There are so many wonderful counting books, it’s hard to stop making recommendations for this age group; we encourage you to keep counting higher and be on the lookout for new number books to delight your little ones. (Counting books can cover such a wide age span. You might also want to check out 1-2-3′s on the Infant and Toddler Page.)
Feast for 10 by Cathryn Falwell
Children helping out their family is the theme of this well-told story that helps children count out the numbers 1 through 10. From one cart into the grocery store on the first page through buying the ingredients to feed a family gathering of 10 people, the anticipation builds for the ending feast. Large images in a mixed media of drawings and collage and a simple engaging story make this book a favorite one to read and read again. There’s also a Spanish edition: Fiesta Para 10.
Roar!: A Noisy Counting Book by Pamela Duncan Edwards, illustrated by Henry Cole
This rhyming number and color book is set in the African savanna, where a little lion cub scares away potential playmates with his loud roaring. One red monkey “scampers up a tree,” and eight brown gazelles “race off on pounding feet.” But the little lion’s calls do attract nine yellow cubs—who are also roaring! Richly illustrated with colored pencils and brilliant hues of paint. It’s fun for children to chime in with the rhymes as they keep track of the numbers of animals and the bright colors. A great read-aloud and interactive book.
The Baker’s Dozen: A Counting Book by Dan Andreasen
This new counting book, with its chubby happy baker will make your mouth water as you count the tasty treats. From one cream éclair to 12 little cupcakes, this jolly baker will entice you with his warm strudels and yummy tortes. Little readers enjoy the messy baking process as well as repeating the names of the cakes and cookies as they count them. Engaging rhymes and colorful illustrations make this a book children ask to read again and again.
Christopher Counting by Valeri Gorbachev
Counting opportunities are everywhere, from stars in the sky to the fish in your aquarium—and even the sweet goodnight kisses from Mom. Christopher, a young bunny, loves to count everything around him, and the delightful—and detailed–watercolor illustrations draw readers in to count with him.
Let’s Count by Tana Hoban
Tana Hoban captures the world through her photographic lens, and invites young children to take a close look. This counting book is perfect for enjoying vivid color photos as well as clear black and whites to count in progression from 1 to 15, then larger numbers: counting by 10’s, 20’s and 100’s. Children love to count and recount the Dalmatian puppies or toilet paper rolls or yummy looking cookies. The numeral itself graces each double page, with the word for the number as well. One of our favorite counting books.
Counting Crocodiles by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand
Counting lends itself to rhyme and rhythm, and this folktale in verse encourages readers to count, while enjoying a playfulness with language sounds. A clever little monkey uses her counting skills to trick the crocs into helping her get to the delicious bananas across the sea from her island. Hillenbrand’s illustrations are a riot; children love the wacky crocodiles with their “mohawks”, or “chicken pox.” A terrific picture book for its story, pictures, language, and of course, chance to count crocodiles!
Anno’s Counting Book by Mitsumasa Anno
A wordless picture book that is elegant, complex, yet intriguing and accessible. Unlike most counting books, Anno’s starts with the concept of zero in a barren winter landscape. The landscape begins to get more and more crowded as the snow melts and we see people, birds, houses—more and more objects to count. The pages correspond to the twelve months as the seasons gradually change. Children we know enjoy making up their own stories as they go through the pages, creating different narratives each time. A true work of art!
12 Ways to Get to 11 by Eve Merriam
Rather than a straightforward 1 to 10 counting book, this one has a twist: objects on the page equal 11. Bright collages and simple text combine to help the reader count the related items, exploring the connections along the way. This thoughtful and inviting book is a great introduction to the concept of addition.
Two Ways to Count to Ten: A Liberian Folktale by Ruby Dee, illustrated by Susan Meddaugh
In this beautiful picture book, it is the jungle beasts who are learning to count to 10. The retelling of a Liberian folktale is another perfect vehicle for counting within a picture book format with a rich story line. It’s a great introduction to patterns as well as counting. But the story itself is strong on its own: King Leopard is deciding on who will follow after him as ruler and plans a context for the cleverest jungle beasts—and guess what, it involves counting. We also love the colored pencil and watercolor paintings that help bring the story to life.
The Icky Bug Counting Book by Jerry Pallotta , illustrated by Ralph Masiello
More than a counting book, this well-written picture book is packed with detailed information about lots of icky bugs! The illustrations are awesome—and kids can look for the “secrets” hidden in the pages. It’s refreshing to have a book that focuses on more than the numbers themselves, yet still gives readers a chance to interact with the story by counting.