10 Counting Books That Take an Artistic Approach to Numbers

My daughter could repeat the alphabet before she was two, but for some reason, numbers didn’t come so easily for her. Even when she did begin to learn to count to 10, she would always start at 2. We would encourage her, “Say one…” and she would begin, “Two, three, four…”

I am happy to report that my daughter, finally did learn how to count. One tool that helped out a lot was books. Children’s counting books with vibrant illustrations and memorable text can be a wonderful way to help your little one learn numbers. Following is a top 10 list of children’s books about numbers, in no particular order.

One Gorilla: A Counting Book

By Anthony Browne

The rich illustrations in this book make it a shoe-in for this list. Anthony Browne has become known as an outstanding primate artist and his artwork comes alive on the pages. Kids can count cute spider monkeys, colorful mandrills, and silly orangutans from one to ten.

Counting with Wayne Thiebaud

By Susan Goldman Rubin

Known for his ability to paint commonplace objects in a vivid and eye-catching manner, artist Wayne Thiebaud created the striking illustrations for this counting book. Littles will want to look at the dreamy, delicious, and delightful drawings, etchings and paintings of familiar scenes and objects such as gumball machines and ice cream cones again and again.

Anno's Counting Book

By Mitsumasa Anno

This book by Japanese author and illustrator Mitsumasa Anno is almost deceptive in its simplicity and charm. The folksy drawings depict people in their daily lives and lovely nature scenes while introducing children to the numbers 1 through 12. A deeper look at the detailed illustrations, however, displays math concepts such as groups, sets, and one-to-one correspondence.

My Granny Went to Market

By Stella Blackstone

When the grandmother in this book about numbers goes to the market, she does not come back with milk and bread. Rather, she buys a magical flying carpet and sets about visiting exotic locations around the world, purchasing unique items at each locale, such as temple cats, nesting dolls, and boomerangs. Along with learning to count, children learn about different cultures and expand their vocabularies.

Ten Little Rabbits

By Virginia Grossman

This memorable book combines Native American storytelling, appealing rhymes and artwork reminiscent of Beatrix Potter to help children learn how to count. Each group of bunnies gives children insight into the lives, activities, and traditions of various Native American tribes, such as corn dance customs of the Pueblo people or Navajo weavings.

One Was Johnny: A Counting Book

By Maurice Sendak

If you and your kiddo love Where the Wild Things Are (and truly, who doesn’t?), you will adore this children’s book about numbers by the same author. As the title suggests, Johnny was one, living happily on his own until a rat came into his house, making two. Next came the cat, then the dog and so forth. Kids will giggle as poor Johnny’s house fills with creatures.

Have You Seen My Dragon?

By Steve Light

This book begins with a little boy asking the doorman of his apartment building if he has seen his dragon. He proceeds to search the city for his fire-breathing friend, who is constantly hiding in plain sight. The line drawings with pops of color draw children’s eyes and keep them engaged throughout, encouraging them to count everything from hot dogs to traffic lights in the ornate illustrations.

1 Big Salad: A Delicious Counting Book

By Juana Medina

You have never seen a salad quite like this one! The ingredients for the salad morph with animals, making some zany combinations kids will love from one avocado deer to ten clementine kittens. The author combines photos of produce with line drawings for a simple yet delightful effect. So creative and fun!


By Kathryn Otoshi

Poor zero didn’t feel very special or important. She wanted to count, but when the other numbers lined up, she just watched because she was, well, nothing. In the end, she realizes that when she stands next to another number, she helps them count even more.

The Hueys in None the Number

By Oliver Jeffers

Is none a number? Of course it is, it’s one less than one. Jeffers uses his unique, brilliant illustrations and approachable writing style to encourage kids to count unconventional things, such as lumps of cheese, fisherman waiting for a bus, and balancing oranges. The book begins and ends with none, demonstrating basic math skills, as well.

These titles make our list of the best counting books for their engaging and unique content. What are some of your kids’ favorite counting books? Share them with us!

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