26 Letters and 99 Cents

26 Letters and 99 Cents

"The book is really two in one."

We head to the library at least once a week, though sometimes we go as many as three times, depending upon what’s happening at the library. And every month, without fail, my daughter brings home a copy of 26 Letters and 99 Cents to read. You would think I would have purchased it by now; I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. But the book is a fantastic introduction to both numbers and letters, with bright, full-color photos that are huge enough to trace with your hands. Tana Hoban’s book is the perfect gift for the little mathematician or beginning reader on your list this holiday season.

The book is really two in one. You can open up the alphabet side and read it as a single book, then flip it to read the number side, which is upside-down to help differentiate between the two. Each letter or number is painted in big, shiny puffy paint, making them both fun to read as well as easy to see. In the alphabet section, you’ll find photos of everything from animals to valentines to toys to help children associate letters with the words that begin with them in a very simple layout.

Some children might be bored with this activity and I certainly wouldn’t push it on them, but having it open for them to explore can help them learn the alphabet, as well as let them see the interesting photos—such as the one of the red-eared slider, a turtle we have had as a pet. In fact, my daughter pointed out that the photo should be of an R rather than a T since that was the species!

In the number section of the book, U.S. coins are shown depicting each number—for example, two pennies for the number two, or a dime and three pennies for the number 13. I love how some of the numbers show different ways of making change—for example, there are both seven pennies, as well as a nickel and two pennies, depicted for the number seven. This helps children see that there are many different ways to make change—not to mention different ways to solve problems altogether. A fun way to go through the book is to provide your child with a tub of coins he or she can place on top of the coins in the book, making a game out of counting the coins and making different amounts with real money rather than play money.