Honors Program


Date of this Version


Document Type



Bielenberg, E. 2021. Mathematics in Children's Literature: Analysis and Design. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska - Lincoln.


Copyright Emmalee Bielenberg 2021.


In this project, I analyzed twenty-six existing children’s mathematics books in order to inform the design of my own children’s mathematics book. I developed a framework based on scholarly literature to answer two research questions: “How complex is the writing (e.g., number of pages and number of words per page) in mathematics literature books for a third grade audience?” and “How do different aspects of children’s mathematics literature appear in books that are story oriented and books that are non-story-oriented?” The major components of my framework are: orientation; complexity of writing; mathematics visibility; portrayal of mathematics; visual and verbal aspects; and ethnic, gender, and cultural considerations. I found that the same number of story-oriented as non-story-oriented books have explicit explanations of mathematics, provide visuals for mathematical information, and are visually and verbally appealing. However, story-oriented books are stronger in making connections (e.g., between mathematics and believable contexts, between the text and the illustrations, etc.) and non-story-oriented books are stronger in the mathematics aspects as well as the ethnic, gender, and cultural aspects. After performing this analysis, I designed my own children’s mathematics book based on what I learned from my review of the literature and from my analysis of the books. I include a storyboard with the text and descriptions of what I would want the illustrations to look like in this paper.