Sunday, October 1, 2017

A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars, by Seth Fishman & Isabel Greenberg (ages 6-9)--and more crazy awesome enormous numbers!

How do you help kids gain a sense of what numbers really mean? At first, you help them count all the things around them. But what happens when you're trying to help them understand bigger numbers? And then how do you move onto truly enormous numbers? Seth Fishman makes number sense and estimating so much fun with his terrific picture book A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars.
A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars
by Seth Fishman
illustrated by Isabel Greenberg
Greenwillow / HarperCollins, 2017
Amazon / Public library
ages 6-9
Fishman helps kids get a sense of just how crazy awesome enormous numbers can be. He begins with the sun, explaining that it's just one star among "(maybe) 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars." And he even helps readers know how to say this outrageously large number, putting the words "a hundred billion trillion" down in the corner.

As he tours the universe and our world, looking at different huge numbers, he serves up a smorgasbord of examples. There are 7,500,000,000 people on Earth and 10 quadrillion ants. "The strange thing is that seven billion five hundred million humans weigh about the same as ten quadrillion ants." (OMG!!!) And 420 million kids or dogs lined up head to toe would circle the Earth about 10 times (that's 240,000 miles).

He keeps bringing examples back to kids, with a particular focus on the kid audience. Terrific, diverse kids and families fill the illustrations. Definitely read the author's note aloud to kids -- it talks about how Fishman estimated these numbers and why estimates are so important. Have fun watching this trailer:

Here are a few other math books I enjoy sharing that give kids a sense of enormous numbers:

How Many Jelly Beans?, by Andrea Menotti and Yancey Labat (Chronicle, 2012). My students love this candy-focused counting book that starts off small and ends with a giant fold-out to help them visualize a million jelly beans. I mean, how many kids can relate to the question, "Can you really have too many jelly beans?"

How Much Is a Million?, by David M. Schwartz and Steven Kellogg (Collins, 1985). Marvelossissimo the Mathematical Magician helps kids get a sense of big numbers. "If one million kids climbed onto one another's shoulders, they would be...farther up than airplanes can fly." While human tower with a billion kids "would stand up past the moon." A classic in school and classroom libraries everywhere.

Millions, Billions and Trillions: Understanding Big Numbers, by David Adler and Edward Miller (Holiday House, 2013). Adler builds up a systematic, gradual sense of how to visualize big numbers by using concrete examples kids can relate to. To imagine what a million might look like, kids are asked to pour 1/4 cup of sugar onto black construction paper to see "about one million granules." He helps kids imagine one billion by starting with looking at how many hairs are on a typical human's head: one hundred thousand. If you looked at ten thousand people's heads, you would see about one billion hairs!

The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, HarperCollins. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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