Sunday, November 28, 2010

Book Review - Zero

Author/Illustrator:  Kathryn Otoshi
Publisher: KO Kids Books (September 15, 2010)
Reading Level: Ages 4 to 8 years
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Description from GoodReads:
Zero is a big round number. When she looks at herself, she just sees a hole right in her center. Every day she watches the other numbers line up to count: "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 . . . !" "Those numbers have value. That's why they count," she thinks. But how could a number worth nothing become something? Zero feels empty inside. She watches One having fun with the other numbers. One has bold strokes and squared corners. Zero is big and round with no corners at all. "If I were like One, then I can count too," she thinks. So she pushes and pulls, stretches and straightens, forces and flattens herself, but in the end she realizes that she can only be Zero. As budding young readers learn about numbers and counting, they are also introduced to accepting different body types, developing social skills and character, and learning what it means to find value in yourself and in others.

 In searching for books to use with young children to build number sense, I discovered Zero by Kathryn Otoshi.  This is a companion to her book One.  I was drawn in immediately by the slick black cover with silver brushstrokes spelling out the word zero.  As I read through the story, I quickly realized that this was more than a numbers book.  Otoshi had also created a story around self-esteem and worth.  Zero is feeling inferior to the other numbers but eventually she learns that trying to imitate the appearance of the other numbers was not going to work.  Zero eventually learns that she can pair up with numbers to make even bigger numbers such as 10, 20, 30, 40....100, 1000, etc.  

I decided to explore how I could use this book with a classroom of kindergartners.  With the book as inspiration, I played with developing three activities that supported their ability to play with both single digit numbers and counting by 10's.  And then in honor of "Zero the Hero" (a regularly celebrated day within our kindergarten classrooms for every 10th day), we tried out the activities.  The children loved hearing the story.  The staff and I divided the children into smaller groups and rotated them through the hands-on lessons.  Children were engaged and eager to learn and had a blast.  This would definitely be one book that we would keep as part of our books to support math and learning.

Thank you Kathryn Otoshi and your book, Zero.  It was the perfect compliment to our Zero the Hero Day. 
I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Good children's literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~