Reading Together

Storybook Guide Based on Joan Holub’s “Zero the Hero”

Explore math while reading and talking about this storybook.

Topic:

Activity Summary

Use this storybook guide with the book “Zero the Hero.”
Many public libraries have this book. This is a Mathical Award honor book.

Reading guide

About the Story

In this hilarious and math-rich story, Zero thinks she is a Hero but the other numbers don’t agree. After all, you can’t count nothing. And if you add 0 to another number or subtract 0 from it, nothing happens. Sometimes the numbers even think Zero is a donut or the letter O. But one day, when they are captured by vicious Roman Numerals, the numbers cry out for help. Zero the Hero comes to their rescue. What is his magic power?

Words to Learn

MATH WORDS
ten ones, circular, random, divisor, times tables, infinity, round off, round down, round up, odd, Roman numerals, ones, tens and hundreds places

OTHER WORDS
glamorous, virtually, invisible, frustration, extinction, realization, confidence, oblivion, encountered, gladiators

About the Math

There is lots of math in this book. Your child can learn what the number 0cannot and can do:

  • Adding 0 to a number does not change It.
  • Subtracting 0 from a number does not change it.
  • Multiplying any number by 0 results in 0.
  • You can’t divide any number by 0.
  • Writing a 0 to the right of any number produces a tens number (and then hundreds and thousands…).
  • Rounding up and down sometimes requires a number with 0 on the right.

Math Talk During Reading

  • TALK ABOUT THE ROLE OF ZERO IN MULTIPLYING
    “Multiplying 7 by 2 is like adding 7 two times. How much is 7 times 0? Why?” (Zero, because you’re not adding 7 at all.) “How much is 0 times 7?Why?”(Zero, because seven zeros add up to nothing.)
  • TALK ABOUT THE FRUIT STORY PROBLEM
    “What is the problem the numbers are trying to solve? Why do they need Zero?”
  • TALK ABOUT THE ROUND-OFF PROBLEM
    “What are 1 and 3 trying to do? What is rounding down? What are 2 and 8 trying to do? What is rounding up?”

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

Activity After Reading

  • MAKE UP NUMBER STORIES
    Help your child make up a story about numbers. Among the questions you can ask: “Can you think about an adventure that numbers might have? What do numbers do to have fun? Does something strange or weird or scary happen? Are the numbers happy or sad?”