Children learn really early on to put themselves neatly into little boxes based on their aptitude and interest. I’ve been snuggled into one labeled Math Impaired for as long as I can remember.
Lately I’ve been starting to feel like maybe this box doesn’t really fit anymore. Furthermore, maybe this whole box proclivity is a bad idea altogether. Maybe math and I can get along after all.
The creative mamas over at No Time for Flashcards have a really good post today on books about math for preschoolers that puts me in mind of the excellent book Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci by Joseph d’Agnese and John O’Brien. We have been in love with this book since our aforementioned superb librarian recommended it to us several months ago.
I wouldn’t really call this one a book for preschoolers. Liam, the story hound, will sit through it with rapt attention but Atticus wanders off about halfway through. It’s a gorgeously illustrated introduction to the mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci‘s early life and his two major academic contributions, bringing what would become our modern decimal system to Europe and researching and writing about what became known as the Fibonacci sequence or Fibonacci numbers.
There are many modern developments that grew out of the Fibonacci sequence, including computer algorithms and financial market analysis (ZZzzzz…not my area of interest) but the aspect that is most fascinating to Liam and me is how the number sequence repeatedly appears in nature.
I also appreciate that the book presents a child who was disparaged and dismissed for approaching the world differently than other children (hence the Blockhead part of the title) but who went on to make a huge contribution to academia, not unlike Einstein or Edison. I don’t know how much basis this aspect of the story has in the reality of Fibonacci’s life since we don’t actually know that much about him as a person but it’s always a good reminder to parents and teachers about how all children learn and discover in different ways.