Saturday, December 20, 2008

Math Doesn't Suck by Danica McKellar

This is a fantastic book. It put me off a little bit at first with its teen-magazine-like cover, and its subtitle - "how to survive middle school math without losing your mind or breaking a nail". But McKellar does a terrific job of explaining a lot of difficult math issues in a way that is fun and makes sense. I read this book because I tutor kids who are mainly doing middle school level math. This book gave me a lot of ways to help explain things when kids are stuck.
One thing to know going into it, in case it's not obvious enough from the cover - this is a book geared entirely towards middle school girls. Middle school boys are not at a level of maturity where they can read a book that talks about cute boys, crushes, shopping, and make-up, and take it with a grain of salt. They simply wouldn't be able to get through it. The idea is to make girls feel like it's okay to be smart and good at math. So many girls feel "nerdy" if they're good at science or math, and nerdy is absolutely what most girls do not want to be in middle school. This book is for girls who are tempted to pretend they are someone else, just to be approved of. Math Doesn't Suck is full of examples of successful grown women who use math every day in their jobs, and are glamorous at the same time. The message here is "being smart is cool" and never dumb yourself down for other people. I admire McKellar for using her star power in this way - and I wish her and all the middle schoolers who read this book luck. Middle school is difficult, but if girls can use this book to help them gain the confidence they need, they'll be on the right path.

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