Adventures in Math, Science & Mindfulness

Summer has come to an end, which means many kids are starting school again. Some for the very first time.

It can be an exciting or a nerve-wracking time, an opportunity to see old friends and make new ones, a chance to learn new skills and discover new passions, and it can be fun or it can be drudgery.

To help you and your children start out on the right foot this year, I’ve found some books that highlight the excitement of school, the beauty of math, the mystery of science, and, for those who find this back-to-school process a bit overwhelming, the soul-refreshing peace of mindfulness.

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In by Tara Lazar and illustrated by Melissa Crowton (Tundra, 2019), the first day is a real adventure. This fabulous story covers all of the different aspects of going to school for the first time, such as being overwhelmed by the size of it, making new friends, and not finding a spot to sit on the bus—all of which are covered with a fun circus touch. If you have a nervous preschooler or kindergartener, this book might just be what you are looking for to show them that school can be fun. For ages 4 to 7.

In Spend It! by Cinders McLeod (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2019) Sonny learns all about wanting to spend his three carrots on three new toys: a rocket ship, a pogo stick, and a bouncy castle. His mom doesn’t think that’s realistic because some of those toys cost more than one carrot each, so she asks him to choose his favourite. Choosing isn’t easy.

This is a great book to introduce young children to money management. The cute bunnies are easy for young children to relate to, and the fun illustrations and text will have them asking you to read the book over and over again. It is one of the Moneybunny books, which also include Earn It! Save It! and Give It! For ages 3 to 5.

Peg and Cat also like to do math, but they prefer to do math in the bath. In Peg + Cat: Math in the Bath by Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson (Candlewick Press, 2019), Peg and her Cat are sort of having a bath. Although, they spend most of their time counting how many people are in the tub, asking if there should be more or less, using maps to find the bath, and making a big splash.

If your children love the TV show by the same name, this is a great book for them to read. The short sentences with simple and repeated words make it easier for new readers to tackle themselves. For ages 4 to 6.

The main character in Count on Me by Miguel Tanco (Tundra, 2019) has a passion that some might find unusual. She loves math. She sees it everywhere and uses it all the time, like when she’s flying kites, skipping stones, and building block towers. She knows that not everyone sees the world she does, but she really wants to show that her passion is just as beautiful as everyone else’s.

At the end of the story she explains different types of mathematical concepts including fractals, polygons, and concentric circles. This is a lovely book to read to your child whether they love math and are worried that makes them weird, or they wonder when they will ever use math in the “real world.” For ages 4 to 7.

Science doesn’t happen just down here on earth though. Scientists also use it up in space to study stars, planets, and galaxies. Amazing Space: Go On A Journey to the Edge of the Galaxy by Raman Prinja and illustrated by John Hersey (Carlton, 2018) is an excellent book for the budding astronomer in your home. It is packed with brilliant illustrations and facts about supernovas, the sun, moon, and planets. Prinja and Hersey also take you to the edge of the universe where you can learn about dark energy. For ages 7 to 9.

Going back to school can be stressful for some children. Since many children haven’t learned how to effectively deal with all of their emotions, going back to school can also be a stressful time for parents because they know they’ll have to deal with the afterschool meltdowns. If you find yourself in this place then you may want to pick up a copy of Sitting Still Like a Frog by Eline Snel (Bala Kids, 2019). It is filled with short stories, games and activities to help your child (and you) learn different mindfulness strategies. So when life becomes too much, you and your kids will have the skills you need to get through it. For ages 5 to 12.

Christina Van Starkenburg is a freelance writer and mother of two young boys. You can read about their adventures at

Christina Van Starkenberg
Christina Van Starkenberg
Christina Van Starkenburg lives in Victoria with her husband, children, and cat. She is the author of One Tiny Turtle: A Story You Can Colour and many articles. To read more of her work and learn about her upcoming books, check out her website at