## Math doesn’t suck

When the Penguin Group publishing company contacted me to see if I was interested in reviewing Danica McKellar's popular books, Math Doesn't Suck, and Kiss My Math, I jumped at the chance. No, it wasn't for the free books. The time I spend reading and writing doesn't justify the cost savings. I review products I believe in. Period. For the sake of full disclosure, I received a free copy of each of the two books. That's it.

Danica McKellar is a well-known actress, a mathematician, and an advocate for Math education. I'm delighted to see people with a tremendous amount of influence use that influence to make Math more accessible.

"Math Doesn't Suck" teaches pre-algebra topics. "Kiss My Math" is the sequel, covering more advanced pre-algebra topics. The books are targeted toward middle school girls. I love both books and I'm a bit beyond pre-algebra. The reason I love them is because Danica has a relationship with her readers that I've never seen before in any Math book. She sets out, and I believe she succeeds, in making her readers feel comfortable. There's so much Math phobia in the world and I think Danica does a brilliant job of getting beyond that. Comfort building tools include:

- Cute illustrations
- Hand-written problems and solutions
- Quotes and testimonials from readers
- Stories from Danica's life
- Applications to real world problems
- Very engaging writing. Danica knows how to relate to teenage girls.

While Danica knows how to speak to her audience she certainly doesn't dumb down the Math. She definitely covers a fair amount of content in both books.

I absolutely love this quote from "Math Doesn't Suck."

I think a lot of girls dumb themselves down for boys. I don't see the point. I'm smart, and I also have a boyfriend. Besides, the guys you have to dumb yourself down for don't make good boyfriends. -- Elyssa, 17

The Associated Press made a related comment:

Danica McKellar has a message for girls: Cute and smart is better than cute and dumb.

It's no wonder that McKellar's books are the two bestselling Math books on Amazon as of this writing.

QuanOctober 1st, 2008 - 18:58

Agreed, cute and smart is better than cute and dumb. It sounds like an interesting read. Does she do books on euclidean geometry and differential equations too?

MgcclOctober 1st, 2008 - 19:40

Sound like a manga math textbook except oriented for girls instead of Americans who want to be Japanese.

Quan:

Differential equations geared toward teenagers. Humm… Good idea…

MgcclOctober 1st, 2008 - 19:45

A interesting side note.

in the quote you have, the girl is age 17.

While the book are for pre-algebra.

Isn’t pre-algebra for middle school? The publisher should chose someone younger for quotes.

RichOctober 1st, 2008 - 21:08

I think the 17-year-old is exactly who they want to be quoting if aiming at middle school girls. Most middle school girls don’t have boyfriends–they are still in the “dreaming” phase–and that phase is just the right time for them to hear this message from someone a few years older.

JaneOctober 21st, 2008 - 17:11

It’s a great idea to give girls positive role models. Also, there are college students at the pre-algebra level who would benefit from these books.

paigeNovember 20th, 2008 - 12:41

hey i love your books

Aish A.November 24th, 2008 - 13:18

The book titles are really catchy. I did not believe that these books were real until I read this post. Anything we can do to generate the Generations Y’s interest in math is worth-it. I will make sure to pass this information along to the parents and students that work with us.

BetteyeApril 6th, 2009 - 11:17

I have a college student who is having a difficulty with Algebra. My son has a Spatial Relations problem. Spatial Relations experts state that Algebra will be difficult for him.

I’m going to purchase with the hopes that your book will target this deficiency. Unfortunately teachers don’t know how to address this issue and my son made the 70 and not the 69 failing score there for he the child that was left behind.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to make the connection to teach to the children that suffer from Spatial Relations problems below you will find the method used by me to address this issue with my son. Yes, by all means I will purchase your books.

PHD’s don’t know much about Spatial Relations and how to teach to these children if they are diagnosed. Many have never heard of Spatial Relations and the problems encountered when taking math. How did I find it?

I did a internet search asking the search engines: What does a college professor want his/her student to know when teaching an intermediate algebra class?

A. I learned this and it mentioned Spatial Relations.

B. I went to the Search engines asking about how to overcome Spatial Relations.

C. here is where I learned all the things involved in Spatial Relations.

thanks

Betteye

Peter SchumanMay 29th, 2009 - 12:56

Glad to hear you on ScienceFriday again. I made sure my daughter knew that science and math were fun, which included NOT doing mind-numbing repetition (i.e. grade school math). She latched onto algebra at 4 or 5 years old, which made things difficult for me on drives to visit family; it is hard to come up with a polynomial that can be solved in one’s head while driving down the superhighway. Worse, to have to come up with another after a fraction of a minute, “Dad! Give me another algebra!” She’s now studying molecular ecology in graduate school in Germany. Instead of solving polynomials in her head, she’s manipulating DNA and gene expression in plants.

tammyOctober 1st, 2009 - 16:17

i am so in love with this book it really helped me in my graduATE