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Storybook Guide Based on Eleanor May’s “Albert Adds Up!”

Explore math while reading and talking about this storybook.

Activity Summary

Use this storybook guide with the book “Albert Adds Up!”
Many public libraries have this book.

Reading guide

About the Story

In “Albert Adds Up!”, Albert is so excited about the book his sister Wanda brings from the library that he is willing to trade his favorite toys to read it. First he offers Wanda one toy and then adds another. Soon he even adds his pet worms. But Wanda does not want to trade the book for any of Albert’s things. She makes him take them away. Why? That’s a big surprise at the end of the story.

Two mice play with toys and talk about trading their toys. Illustration from “Albert Adds Up.”

Words to Learn

first, one more, both, plus, altogether

scampered, squeaked, gulped, scurried, interrupted, beamed, trade

About the Math

As Albert adds and subtracts different items to trade for the book, your child can learn:

  • That adding creates more items and subtracting creates fewer items.
  • How to count up the number of items every time Albert adds something else to find out the new total.
  • How to count up the number of items every time Albert takes something away to find out how many are left.
  • When ready, your child might learn how to read number sentences with the symbols +, -, and =.
Two mice try to trade different toys with one another. “Illustration from “Albert Adds Up.”

Math Talk During Reading

  • Count how many items there are in total
    Albert offered Wanda three toys and two more worms. How many things do you think that is all together? Let’s count and find out.
  • Use your fingers to subtract along with Albert
    Hold up 10 fingers, just like Albert has 10 items. He takes away the cat mask. If we put down one finger, how many fingers do we have left? How do you know?
  • Talk about the characters’ motivation
    Why was Albert trying to trade with Wanda? Why didn’t Wanda want any of Albert’s things?

Try to come up with some of your own questions and comments, too!

Activity After Reading

  • Gather 11 household items. Practice subtraction by taking away some items. Keep going until there are no more left. Ask: How many did we start with? How many did we take away? How many are left now?
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