Exploring Early Math with Infants Through Books

Carefully selected books that spark an interest in the world of mathematics for our youngest learners

Infants are constantly building ideas about math through interactions and daily routines. As an adult, you can support the math concepts that infants naturally pick up on through shared book readings. The books in this series offer great opportunities to interact with infants using the language of mathematical concepts relating to shape, size, and quantity.

Nurturing Early Math Skills

This article from the Early Math Collaborative shares a strategy for attentive and responsive interactions during shared book readings with very young children. Learn how you can nurture infants’ early math skills using the CAIR Principle.

Teacher points at book while sitting on floor with two toddlers
I Spy Book Cover

Be a Friend

I Spy with My Little Eye

Written and illustrated by Paula Vásquez, this story is a fun way to introduce infants to geometric shapes, such as squares, circles, and rectangles, that are part of everyday objects.

Freight Train
Patterning and Numeracy

Freight Train

Written and illustrated by Donald Crews, this story includes a colorful sequence of train cars that lends itself to talking about color patterns, positions in space, and counting up to eight.
Up to My Knees Book Cover

Up to My Knees

Written and illustrated by Grace Lin, this book explores height and relative size as Mei plants a sunflower seed and watches it grow over time.
Bananas for Two Book Cover

Banana for Two

Written by Ellen Mayer and illustrated by Ying-Hwa Hu, this story follows a mother and child shopping for different amounts of items in a grocery store – use it to talk about quantity, counting, more and less, and sharing equally.
Ten Tiny Babies Book Cover
numeracy and spatial sense

Ten Tiny Babies

Written and illustrated by Karen Katz, this book counts a group of silly infants as they play and get ready for bed together. The printed numbers in the story encourage numeracy talk and the illustrations show the infants’ different spatial movements.
Patterns Book Cover


Written and illustrated by Emily Bolam, this book has colorful and bold drawings that introduce simple patterns. The illustrations give open-ended opportunities for pointing out colors, sizes, and shapes.


Key Takeaways

Talk about math

Infants develop early ideas about math through experiences and interactions. Counting objects or naming shapes while reading supports these concepts.

Notice patterns

The illustrations and words in books can highlight repeating patterns. This helps introduce infants to differing characteristics, categories, and quantities.

Highlight math everywhere

Books point out the mathematical concepts that exist in everyday activities and interactions. Infants learn math skills best when they are part of daily routines.