I love a good back all about maths and this one scores ten out of ten from me. Mathematical concepts, how maths is at the heart of how the world works, and how our day to day lives are reliant on maths are all things that fascinate and intrigue me. But I totally understand that some children and adults do not share my enthusiasm.
‘What’s the Point of Maths?’ is a wonderfully informative and educational read about all things maths and will be throughly enjoyed by readers both with a passion for maths and those that are perhaps less certain about the subject. The book serves many purposes which can be best broken down into three. One, it provides stories that give a fascinating history of maths right from the earliest humans through to the present-day. Two, it explains mathematical concepts and ideas and provides plenty of opportunities for readers to practice their skills and develop their understanding. Three, it explores how maths is relevant and used in the world and reveals some quite remarkable things that you can do with just a little bit of maths.
Maths is everywhere. Art, music, sport, science, architecture, medicine, computing, finance, agriculture, geography, the list goes on. You might not think it but maths is fundamental to pretty much everything. In the book, scholars, mathematicians, philosophers and a host of other brilliant people unite to reveal the fascinating history of maths and its significance in the world today.
Maths has been around for what seems like forever and the book features wonderful stories on how the earliest humans devised simple counting systems, how a philosopher invented co-ordinates as a result of a problematic fly, how the Romans created percentages to take taxes and the influence of the Ancient Chinese on negative numbers. And it doesn’t stop there…we have Ancient Greeks measuring pyramids, Egyptians using triangles to measure fields, Florence Nightingale using pie charts, fraudulent French bakers and an Indian estimating the number of leaves on a tree. This really is a superb history of mathematical ideas and why they are so important in the 21st century.
The stories of the development of mathematical concepts are a delight to read and provide excellent reasons and the need for concepts to evolve as they did. Explanations are clear, written examples are worked thorough in a logical way and are supported by annotations, and real world examples are relevant and varied. There are plenty of step-by-step guides that support explanations and these really do make the book accessible to all children regardless of how confident they are with maths. The book is stylishly illustrated throughout and the double page spreads are incredibly reader-friendly. A detailed timeline at the back of the book spans three double page spreads and features many significant people whose thoughts, ideas and work shaped the progression and advancement of mathematics. A glossary, index and answers to the puzzles that feature throughout round things off.
With mind-blowing facts, tricks to amaze, practical things to try out and puzzles to solve, this is sure to score top marks with even the most reluctant of mathematicians.
Recommended for 9+.