Cover image for The history of counting
The history of counting
Schmandt-Besserat, Denise.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Morrow Junior Books, 1999.
Physical Description:
45 pages : color illustrations ; 28 cm
Describes the evolution of counting and the many ways to count and write numbers.
General Note:
Includes index.
Reading Level:
940 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 6.6 1.0 2111.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 5.9 3 Quiz: 22464 Guided reading level: NR.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QA113 .S386 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
QA113 .S386 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area
QA113 .S386 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Drawing on years of research, a renowned archaeologist traces the evolution of counting. She shows how the concept of numbers came about, how various societies answered the question "How many?," and how our modern-day decimal system was developed. Engrossing and enlightening, this fascinating book introduces children to one of our most important inventions.

00-01 Utah Book Award (Informational Books)

Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies 2000, National Council for SS & Child. Book Council

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 3^-5. As the title succinctly states, this well-designed, large-format book traces the history of counting. Beginning with a look at primitive expressions of numbers, the text goes on to explain abstract counting and the methods used by the Sumerians, the Phoenicians, the Greeks, the Romans, and finally the Arabs, who brought Hindu numerals from India to Europe about 1,000 years ago. Finally, this demonstrates four clear advantages of the Arabic system, which is used throughout the modern world. The book surveys a broad subject and communicates it in a way that is comprehensible to young people yet never condescending to them. The large-scale illustrations portray people from many cultures, all with their own dignity and individual style. Imaginatively conceived and well composed, Hays' acrylic paintings feature warm, harmonious colors and delicate plays of light and shadow against textured-linen backings. Cogently written and beautifully made, this handsome book spotlights a part of our heritage so basic that we take it for granted. Mathematical terms appended. --Carolyn Phelan

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-5-One strength of this title is the cultural context into which the information has been placed so that children will understand not only how numbering and counting have evolved over time but also why. Some of the phrasing and several of the cultural examples are sophisticated but for the most part the information has been well adapted to a young audience. The book begins with a brief introduction that defines counting and numbers and then moves on to a historical overview. Hays's attractive paintings, done in acrylic on linen, successfully interpret the concepts explained in the text. It would be a shame if older children dismissed this book because of its picture-book format, since they are unlikely to encounter a better explanation of the subject. There are some fine older, out-of-print books that convey much of the same information, but nothing in recent memory explains the topic quite so well.-Linda Greengrass, Bank Street College Library, New York City (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.