Reading Together

Storybook Guide Based on Mitsumasa Anno’s “Anno’s Counting Book”

Explore math while reading and talking about this storybook.

Topic:

Activity Summary

Use this storybook guide with the book “Anno’s Counting Book.” Many public libraries have this book.

Reading guide

About the Story

This picture book beautifully illustrates a small town throughout the changing seasons. Each two-page spread shows a number of everyday objects, from one to 12, for your child to find. There are many different groups of objects on each page that show the target number, such as seven cows, seven houses, and seven trees. The illustrations can be used not only to teach counting but also to help your child learn addition and subtraction. The last page offers useful material for adults.

A depiction of a small town with five buildings, pine trees, and people walking along a road. Illustration from “Anno’s Counting Book.”

Words to Learn

Although there are no words in the story, your children can learn how to read the number symbols: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.

About the Math

While counting the objects in each scene, your child can learn:

  • How to say the counting words from one to 12.
  • How to count objects one at a time. This is not so easy because the objects are scattered throughout the illustration and your child must look carefully to find them.
  • That the blocks on the left and the written number on the right always show the number of objects to be found.
  • That the objects can be seen as separate groups and then added to get the total. For example, your child can see a group of four cows and a group of three, then add them together to get seven cows.
A large green pasture depicting two homes, a river, cows, two bridges, trees, and a rainbow in the background. Illustration from “Anno’s Counting Book.”

Math Talk During Reading

  • TRY FINDING THE RIGHT NUMBER OF OBJECTS ON EACH PAGE
    I see the number five. Can you find five cabooses on the train?
  • TRY FINDING A DIFFERENT NUMBER OF OBJECTS—NOT THE TARGET NUMBER
    For example, in the case of five, there is only one train engine: Can you find one of something in the picture?
  • PRACTICE ADDING AND PREDICTING
    For example, on the page with five, you can ask: How many children are here, and how many are over there? How many altogether? How many children will there be on the next page?
  • TALK ABOUT THE CHANGES AS THE SEASONS PROGRESS THROUGHOUT THE BOOK
    Now it’s winter. What’s different? What are the people doing? What are they wearing?

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

Activity After Reading

Children can illustrate their own counting book with scenes from their daily life, count the objects on the page, and then represent the number of objects with dots or numerals.