Bedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay Up Late, by Laura Overdeck


Bedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay Up Late by Laura Overdeck, by James Tooley. New York: Feiwel & Friends, 2013. 96 pp. $15.99 (hardcover).

In “A Dozen Great Apps for Children Learning Math” (TOS, Winter 2015–16), I discussed some excellent high-tech tools for learning math. But sometimes old-fashioned, low-tech tools can’t be beat. A book called Bedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay Up Late is one such case.

The book, written by Laura Overdeck and playfully illustrated by Jim Paillot, includes chapters on exploding food, wild pets, extreme vehicles, sports not to try at home, and really odd jobs. Each chapter presents several stories, each a paragraph long. And each chapter, story, and paragraph is interesting. This is the key to the power of this book. It is interesting through and through. It shares interesting facts about interesting things in interesting ways.

Here, for example, is a story titled “Just in Slime,” from the chapter on wild pets:

With their bulging eyes, long sticky tongues, wet skin, and incredible jumping power, frogs offer a great combination of slimy and cute. They’re amphibians, meaning they can live both in water and on land; in fact, they’re born in the water as wriggling tadpoles, then eventually lose their tails and grow those great jumpy legs. You can actually eat frogs’ legs, but more often people prefer to keep frogs as pets. But whether you want a frog as your friend or your dinner, you have to catch it first, and that’s slippery business. (p. 34)

Three questions follow each short story: one for “wee ones,” one for “little kids,” and one for “big kids.” For example, following the aforementioned paragraph are . . .