MathStart Books, by Lynne

Sometimes I think I’m the only homeschool parent who hasn’t used Life of Fred books with her kids. Life of Fred is a series of books written in the format of a story that contains math concepts and problems presented in a real-world setting. I’ve heard great things about these books from many parents. For our family, though, they weren’t something we wanted to try. We are happy with our math curriculum and didn’t see a need to add those in.

However, before I knew about Life of Fred and before I even started homeschooling my kids, I came across a different series of living math books that we all adored. I utilized the interlibrary loan feature of my library’s website to track down every one of these books that I could. We read many of them several times. The series is called MathStart by Stuart J. Murphy.

There are 63 books in the series, with three reading levels ranging from preschool to fourth grade. Each book presents a math concept within the context of a picture book story. Level 1 books include topics like counting, recognizing shapes, and comparing. Level 2 books are more involved, with topics such as rounding, timelines, and symmetry. Level 3 books introduce ideas like estimating, negative numbers, and metrics.

The brilliance of these books is that my kids had no idea they were learning math. To them, these were just fun stories added on to the gigantic pile of picture books we read each week. My younger son really enjoyed Dave’s Down-to-Earth Rock Shop, while my older son was partial to Let’s Fly a Kite and Too Many Kangaroo Things to Do! I remember reading Tally O’Malley over and over, along with Shark Swimathon, Game Time, and Divide and Ride.

If you’re looking for something fun and interesting to add into your elementary math routine, I can’t recommend these books enough. The best learning comes through fun activities and engaging books. This series provides both.


Lynne–Lynne has enjoyed homeschooling her two sons for the past 4.5 years, after their brief stint in the local public school.  Her older son is a humorous fellow with high functioning autism who thrives in a home education environment.  Her younger son is a sensitive soul with a great deal of patience. The boys, Mom, and Dad, along with the two guinea pigs, live in Northeast Ohio.  Lynne holds a Master’s Degree in French Language and Literature.  She is also a Harry Potter fanatic, enjoys line dancing and Zumba, spends hours scrapbooking, and loves organic vegetables.  You can visit her soon-to-be revitalized blog at


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