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Our top 10 counting books

Counting books offer lots of fun opportunities for learning about numbers and counting.

elmer counting bookElmer’s First Counting Book  David McKee
Andersen Press
Age 0-3

In this bright and attractive elephant shaped counting book children will meet Elmer and some of his friends. Count the animals on each page and talk about what they are all doing.
See lovemybooks ideas for sharing the first story about Elmer.

alpphaprintsAlphaprints 123  Roger Priddy
Priddy Books
Age 0-5

A board book with lovely textured animal pictures made from finger prints. It would be fun to make your own using finger paint. Includes numbers up to ten and a counting rhyme on every page.

Count to 100  Felicity BrooksSophia Touliatou (Illus)
Age 3-7

This is a very attractive book with gorgeous illustrations to count on every page including flowers, animals, and the night sky: from one full moon to 100 twinkling stars. Young readers are encouraged to count in ones up to twenty and then introduced to whole tens (30, 40, 50 etc) to 100.

In addition to the counting on every page other concepts are introduced (eg first and last, lowest and highest) and there is plenty to spot, ‘I’m the biggest [animal]’ says the whale which is the smallest? Every double page provides lots to talk about together. Readers are encouraged to voice preferences – which flower do you prefer?

Watch the publisher’s introduction to the book: 

Count with little fish Lucy Cousins
Age 0-3

This is a perfect first counting book for the very young. The illustrations of the different fish (thin fish, fat fish, shy fish and scary fish) are beautiful, brightly coloured and patterned and might inspire some ‘fishy’ painting. Numbers are included as words and numerals. There is a pleasing rhyme to the text making it tuneful to read aloud and return to.


one gorilla

Gorilla Anthony Browne
Walker Books
Age 0-5

Anthony Browne is one of our most successful picture book makers. Most of his books are for over sevens and if you know his work you will recognise that gorillas often feature. In this beautiful counting book with detailed illustrations a broad family of primates are the focus.

A Million Dots, Sven Völker
Cicada Books
Age 7-11

This book takes its readers from one to a million in twenty dramatic double page spreads.

Each spread includes numbers represented in digits and words, and sums which take you to the next page where the first challenge is to read the next number. The focus is on doubling and the speed with which you reach over a million is mind boggling. Parents and children will find themselves competing to see who can calculate the next number.

The illustrations highlight all that could (potentially!) be counted in the world around us from the number of apples on a tree, to the numbers of freckles on a face moving on to all that probably could not be counted such as the number of blades of grass on a sports field or stars in the sky. Children can be encouraged to look out for other examples in the world around them.

The design is bold and attractive and the final spread is an extra delight, a gatefold page emphasising the magnitude of the final number (1,048,576!)

hungry caterpillar thumbThe Very Hungry Caterpillar Eric Carle
Age 0-5

A picture book classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar tells the story of a rather greedy little caterpillar searching for food. Children can count the foods the caterpillar nibbles through as well as learning about the life cycle of a butterfly, the days of the week and healthy eating.
See lovemybooks ideas for sharing The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

five little menFive Little Men in a Flying Saucer Dan Crisp (illus)
Child’s Play
Age 0-3

This is an illustrated version of the well-known rhyming song with holes for little fingers to explore. Great for joining in and counting the illustrations build a story alongside the rhyme.
See lovemybooks ideas for sharing Five Little Men in a Flying Saucer.Hippos go Berserk age 3-5 Sandra Boynton Simon and Schuster

one moose twenty miceOne Moose Twenty Mice Stella Blackstone and Clare Beaton
Barefoot Books
Age 3-5

A counting book with numbers up to 20. The lovely images are created from felt applique. As well as counting the animals there is fun to be had in spotting the cat hiding on every page.

countablockCountablock Christopher Franceschelli
Abrams Appleseed
Age 3-7

Beautifully designed, the thick pages of this book are cut into number shapes. Peep through to see what’s coming next. As well as a counting book there are transformations to discover with one egg becoming one chicken and two snowmen become two puddles. Numbers up to 100.

Hippos go Berserk  Sandra Boynton
Simon and Schuster
Age 3-5

First published in 1977, this tale of a hippo preparing for a party with groups of friends, helpers and an unexpected monster guest arriving is great fun. The groups of hippos can be counted as they arrive; with older children you might attempt a running total of the hippo arrivals. There is a climax midway through the book as the party gets going and the hippos go… berserk! This appears an all-night party and the next morning they gradually leave, so you can count down until one hippo is left all alone again.

Ten Fat Sausages 
Michelle Robinson, Tor Freeman (illus)
Andersen Press
Age 3-7

The ten fat sausages in this version include some rebels who refuse to comply with expectations. Disrupting the traditional rhyme, they try to escape before going ‘pop’ or ‘bang’. However their plans are thwarted when they each meet an equally awful fate within the kitchen. Definitely a case of out of the frying pan into the fire. Magnificently macabre with humour which will delight many children, this is not a book for the faint hearted! The illustrations are very striking with very expressive sausages and a rhyming text which skips along. As well as introducing the idea of subtracting twos this book would be great fun to read together – with one of you as narrator and the other as one of the would be escapees. You could have fun with dramatic sound effects. It may inspire more sausage storytelling with other bids for freedom.

Watch a trailer

Watch an animation of the original rhyme from the BBC website