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Celebrating Maths Through a Book: Chris Smith on That’s Mathematics

We are delighted to welcome author Chris Smith to the blog today. Scottish Teacher of the Year Chris teaches, tweets, dreams and sings songs about maths. He hopes his fun challenges in the new book That’s Mathematics will inspire a whole generation of mathematicians. Chris visited the BooksForTopics blog to tell us more about how his new book will help children of all ages to celebrate the joy of maths…
that's mathematics blog tour

that's mathematics blog tour

Guest Post: Chris Smith

Author of That’s Mathematics

A Book to Celebrate Maths

Chris smith that's mathematics

Being a grown-up sucks. You’re meant to know it all. There’s an expectation that the years you’ve racked up will have brought with them wisdom too. If there’s a gap in your knowledge, you don’t ask another adult – that would be mortifying. Instead, you secretly Google.

Not so with kids. They’ll ask all kinds of weird questions:

“How much gold can you hold in an elephant’s ear? When it’s noon on the moon, then what time is it here?”

Because children are so inquisitive and innocent, you end up in conversations with them that are memorable, joyful and entertaining.

Maths for Inquisitive Readers

I desperately want That’s Mathematics to be the kind of book that encourages boys and girls to keep asking questions, prompted by the wonderful world around them. And as they do, they will realise that Maths is pretty much everywhere: whether they’re playing or paying, befriending or spending, looking or cooking (don’t worry- the rhymes that Mathematical and musical genius Tom Lehrer has generously allowed us to use in the book are much more charming than these couplets).thats mathematics

This project began with the wonderfully talented Tom Lehrer, who’s now well into his 90s. We created a tribute to his brilliant song “That’s Mathematics” by roping in a bunch of well-known Mathematical faces to sing lines while I bashed away on the piano. Unbelievably, we ended up with TV stars like Countdown’s Rachel Riley and presenter extraordinaire Hannah Fry to YouTube sensations like Australian hero Eddie Woo and the fabulous Michael Stevens of Vsauce fame! It’s worth a watch and you can see the video here.

Maths Songs and Rhymes for Younger Children

The success of this video sparked the idea to make a kids’ book that would weave the witty lyrics of Tom Lehrer’s song with captivating artwork from talented Latvian illustrator Elīna Brasliņa and extra ideas to delve into provided by me! Although the suggested age range for the book is 5-8 year olds, younger kids will love to listen to Tom’s delightful verses while being mesmerised by Elīna’s drawings (spotting new things each time they re-read it). As national treasure Johnny Ball describes it: “In the footsteps of Tom Lehrer, Chris Smith shows that you are never too young to have fun with Maths.” 

thats mathematics

Maths Puzzles and Challenges for Older Children

Older kids, and parents too, won’t be able to resist getting their teeth into the ‘try this’ and ‘explore this’ sections – these tasks, challenges, puzzles and games help to explore the Maths underpinning each idea in That’s Mathematics. There are answers to the challenges and a glossary of Mathsy terms at the back of the book and also a whole host of free online activities to keep the discovery and exploration going!

thats mathematics       thats mathematics


Celebrating Maths in Everyday Life

It might surprise you how much Maths you use in your everyday life. Hopefully, this book will encourage you to spot it, to embrace it and to chat about it. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll manage to recapture the freedom to ask those questions you’ve been stifling as a sensible adult:

“If you could count for a year, would you get to infinity or somewhere in that vicinity?”


You can find That’s Mathematics featured on our March Books of the Month and our Best Books About Maths booklists. The book can be purchased here.


that's mathematics blog tour
Thank you to author Chris Smith for stopping by our blog. For more information, check out the other stops on the blog tour.

We also have more children’s books about Maths on our booklists for further ideas for mathematical stories.


Where next?
> Visit our Reading for Pleasure Hub
> Browse our Topic Booklists
> View our printable year group booklists.
> See our Books of the Month.

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