MSRI’s Mathical Book Prize Goes to Boston!

Posted by on Jan 11, 2016 in News | One Comment

ALA Midwinter 2016 BostonBoston, Massachusetts – Children’s book authors, an early childhood expert, and a youth librarian made up the Mathical Books panel at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting, to highlight the need for effective literary math books in early childhood development and paths for librarians to incorporate math-themed literature into their collections.

More than 100 librarians in attendance heard from Jon Scieszka, former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and Mathical Book Prize selection committee co-chair, Dr. Herbert Ginsburg, Professor of Psychology & Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, Dr. Richard Evan Schwartz, Chancellor’s Professor of Mathematics, Brown University and award winning youth author, Amie Wright, Program Manager at MyLibraryNYC, New York Public Library and Kirsten Bohl, Outreach Producer at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI). The event offered a sneak peak for librarians into the 2016 Mathical prize winners and honor books before the list was revealed to the general public.

Early Childhood: After a warm welcome from Jon Scieszka, early childhood expert Professor Herb Ginsburg explained the unique way children read and comprehend books. He suggested not all math books are created equal. What motivates young children to pick up a book and start reading? His answer was “accessibility” as the most important factor.

Big, Bigger, Biggest: Professor Richard Schwartz, author of Really Big Numbers, a 2016 Mathical award winner, colorfully kicked off his part of the conversation by asking each person in the audience to write down the biggest number they could think of in 30 seconds. This activity brought attention to the Mathical Book Prize’s main purpose: to underscore that math can be fun, interactive, and engaging for all ages.

Calling All Librarians: The New York Public Library’s Amie Wright explained: Once the resources are available, anyone can be good at math. Debunking the myth that math is only for some children (and some adults…), she explained, “Award lists are invaluable tools to identify titles for purchase and promotion; however, for too long it has been a challenge to quickly single out titles that correctly use math concepts and are a joy to read. No longer! Welcome Mathical Youth Book Prize – I hope this prize will encourage more “mathical” titles to be written, to be published, and to be promoted.”

Ms. Wright emphasized that the Mathical Book Prize is exactly the kinds of program that librarians are eager to get their hands on, as it helps anyone looking for the right tools to differentiate useful and expert-endorsed stories. The Mathical Book Prize was developed by MSRI to elevate literary books for kids that showcase math as a fun and interactive element in the world around us. What better way to get the right books into the hands of kids than to highlight noteworthy titles for librarians to feature in their collections? Find out more at

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