_L4A0747The Mathical Book Prize is given for trade books written for very young children through teenagers which make math visible in the world and inspire enjoyment and appreciation of math.

A single front list title will be awarded the Mathical Book Prize in each age category, while additional front list and backlist titles are eligible as Honor Books and will be included on a curated resource list for educators. Each year’s Award Winners and Honor Books join a selective and ever-growing list of new and previously published fiction and non-fiction titles for youth.  The selection committee will choose the best books from each year submitted to include in a reading list that will be promoted nationally among librarians, K- 12 teachers, mathematicians, and science museums, as well as at the 2017 National Math Festival in Washington, D.C.

The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute thanks publishers who have submitted titles for consideration for 2017, the third year of the Mathical Book Prize. For additional information, please contact the Mathical Book Prize coordinator, Jennifer Murawski, at mathical@msri.org. If you missed the 2017 Mathical Book Prize Call for Submissions, you can sign up to receive a notification when the 2018 Mathical submission period begins.

2016 Mathical Book Prize winners

The 2016 Mathical Book Prize winners: 8: An Animal Alphabet, by Elisha Cooper (Orchard Books, Scholastic); Max’s Math, by Kate Banks with pictures by Boris Kulikov (Farrar, Straus & Giroux Books for Young Readers); and Secret Coders, by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes (First Second Books).

Books should have value for classroom studies and/or library collections supporting students’ work and pleasure reading. The Mathical selection panel looks first for literary quality; secondly, for well-presented books that contain substantial and/or inspirational math content; that are clear, accurate, and inviting in their approach to mathematics. Mathical winners have come from a wide variety of imprints and publishers, from the largest publishing houses in the United States to nonprofit mathematical organizations and university presses.

Some books will teach easily recognizable math skills through a well-told story. Many others will simply suggest or encourage an enjoyment of mathematics in the broadest sense, by a variety of different approaches. Books which are primarily non-narrative activity or puzzle books are not in general eligible for the competition.

By keeping the emphasis on literary quality and otherwise holding the definition of mathematics wide open, MSRI and our partner educator associations (NCTE and NCTM) hope to encourage the writing of interesting and inspiring books and the promotion of these books to a wide audience of youth of all ages who might enjoy what they do not even know they are missing.

Click here a full list of previous Mathical award winners.

Mathematics in its broadest sense includes content that encourages children and/or teenagers to do any of the following:

  • Learn to count, either at the introductory level or in an advanced context like counting the number of arrangements of checkers on a board
  • Notice ratios, proportions, or encourage proportional thinking
  • Use formal logic
  • Connect mathematical ideas across different contexts
  • Sort and classify, compare quantities, and notice shapes and patterns
  • Play logical or mathematical games, solve puzzles
  • Make measurements, interpret and analyze data
  • Use statistics and probability
  • Solve mathematical or scientific and logical problems
  • Practice experiential, intuitive, critical, and analytical reasoning
  • Recognize and explore mathematical patterns found in nature or created by humans (e.g., symmetry, growth, Fibonacci sequence, prime numbers)
  • Recognize mathematical aspects of everyday things and phenomena

Books that inspire a love of math include those that:

  • Feature a central character who loves math, or a storyline driven in some way by mathematics
  • Tell the life story of a mathematician (biography, autobiography)
  • Incorporate problem-solving or other games/exercises as an integral part of a well-told story
  • Present a trove of puzzles or historical sketches in a literary fashion
  • Use images and/or mathematical tropes to tell a story.

The Mathical selection panel is drawn from librarians, teachers, mathematicians, early childhood experts, and others nationwide. The jury selects winners in five grade-level categories: PreK, K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12.

The 2017 Mathical selection panel is co-chaired by Jordan Ellenberg, New York Times bestselling author of How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking (Penguin Press, 2014) and the John D. MacArthur Professor of Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and Rebecca Goldin, Professor of Mathematical Sciences at George Mason University and Director of STATS.org, a collaboration between the American Statistical Association and the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization Sense About Science USA.

For the Mathical Book Prize:

  • Only books published in calendar year 2016 will be eligible for the Mathical Book Prize; backlist titles will be eligible to receive Honor Book status.
  • Both fiction and nonfiction titles may be submitted.
  • Textbooks, workbooks, kits, and/or experiment-only books are not eligible.
  • Books must be intended for grades pre-K-12.
  • Books must be currently available in print in English.
  • All books must originate with a children’s publishing company or division and must be published (not simply distributed) by a publisher incorporated in the U.S.
  • Spanish-language editions published in the U.S. simultaneously with English-language editions are eligible.
  • Books translated into English are eligible.
  • Publishers agree to share publicity materials (such as high resolution cover images) for use in marketing of the Mathical Book Prize winning titles and honor books, if submissions are selected as 2017 Mathical winners.

Only books published in calendar year 2016 will be eligible for the Mathical Book Prize. Backlist titles (published in 2015 or earlier, which remain in print) are only eligible to receive Honor Book status.

The Mathical selection panel may choose to award Honor Book status to additional front list titles.

Submissions will be accepted August 1 - September 22, 2016: 2017 Prize Submission Form. Instructions for shipping books will be released to publishers in mid-September, with a deadline of October 15, 2016 for shipments to reach the Mathical selection panelists.

The 2017 Mathical Book Prize does not have any submission fee.

Between August 1 and September 22, 2016, you may submit titles for consideration using the 2017 Mathical Book Prize Submission Form. Publishers may submit a number of front list titles (published in 2016) equal to 25% of their annual output. Publishers may also submit up to 7 backlist titles (published prior to 2016, but still in print) for consider. Books submitted last year are not eligible for resubmission.

You will be asked to send one copy of each title to each of 3 reviewers and two copies to the MSRI office (a total of 5 copies). MSRI will send shipping instructions to participating publishers in September 2016. Titles must be received by October 15, 2016.

Publishers may submit a number of front list titles (published in 2016) equal to 25% of their annual output. Publishers may also submit up to 7 backlist titles (published prior to 2016, but still in print) for consider. Books submitted last year are not eligible for resubmission.

Titles, once submitted, are not eligible for resubmission in a future year.

The Mathical Book Prize is organized by the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI), a nonprofit organization in Berkeley, California. The prize was started in 2015 in partnership with the Children’s Book Council (CBC), the national nonprofit trade association of children’s book publishers. CBC co-organized the prize through the 2016 competition.

In 2017, MSRI is delighted to welcome two new partners.  The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) is the world’s largest mathematics education organization, with 80,000 members and more than 230 Affiliates throughout the United States and Canada. The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) is a professional association of educators in English Studies, Literacy, and Language Arts, with 30,000 members in the United States and other countries.

The Mathical Book Prize is possible through the support of the Simons Foundation and the Firedoll Foundation.

The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) and its Mathical Book Prize partners offer numerous opportunities to highlight Mathical titles to educators, parents, and libraries throughout the year. Mathical titles are featured on websites, social media, and newsletters of all partner organizations. Winning books are featured at public outreach programming, with special emphasis on the National Math Festival in Washington, D.C.

MSRI also partners with First Book, a nonprofit organization which provides access to new books for children in need. To date, First Book has distributed more than 135 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada. Over 2,500 copies of 2015 Mathical Prize titles have been distributed, and qualifying 2016 titles will soon be added to the First Book marketplace.

Additional promotions of winning titles will be announced on this website throughout the year.


The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI), organizer of the Mathical Book Prize, is not affiliated with any publisher or bookseller of Mathical winning titles. MSRI is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.