Reading Together

Storybook Guide Based on Asia Citro’s “Pigeon Math”

Explore math while reading and talking about this storybook.


Activity Summary

Use this storybook guide with the book “Pigeon Math” Many public libraries have this book.
This book is a Mathical Award winner.

Reading guide

About the Story

This hilarious story begins with 10 pigeons on a line. When the page is turned, we see that some are flying upward. The author exclaims that because some pigeons are gone, she needs to begin the story all over again with the correct number of pigeons on the line. But once that is done, some of the pigeons leave (subtraction) and some return (addition), so the number on the line is constantly changing. And what will happen when a cat appears?

Words to Learn

MATH WORDS                                   
one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, minus, plus, circle, square

resourceful, clever

About the Math

As the pigeons leave and return to the line, children can learn:

  • A simple form of addition: Count the number of pigeons on the line and the number returning to get the total.
  • A simple form of subtraction: After some pigeons have left, count the number remaining on the line to get the total.
  • To read the written number words from one to ten.
  • To read the written numerals from 1 to 10.
  • To read simple number sentences like 10 – 6 = ?

Math Talk During Reading

Because the story often shows what is happening but does not describe or explain it, you may need to help your child understand what is going on.

    “How many pigeons were on the page all together? How many left?” Or “How many returned?” “How many are on the wire now?”
    “What does ten minus six mean? “What does four plus four mean?”
  • TALK ABOUT THE MATH SENTENCES “What does 8 – 6 = ? mean?”

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

Activity After Reading

Help your child solve problems like this one: “Let’s put five pennies in this cup. Next, we put two pennies in.” Cover the cup. “Don’t look. Just tell me: How many pennies are in the cup now?” If your child cannot figure it out, let them look in the cup. For subtraction, take some pennies out.