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.