Review: ‘Bedtime Math: The Truth Comes Out’

Books Education
Photo by Bedtime Math
Photo by Bedtime Math

When I talk about Bedtime Math with geeky friends who have been in the parenting game longer than I have, they almost always respond with “We love them!”

It’s easy to understand why. Laura Overdeck, who graduated from Princeton with a degree in astrophysics, started the franchise with a simple idea: make math problems as routine as favorite bedtime stories. She and her husband were already doing this with their kids, and they (rightly) thought other parents would like the idea.

While you can get a Bedtime Math app on the App Store or on Google Play and sign up for a daily Bedtime Math email, most people know of the series through the books, the third of which, The Truth Comes Out, was released last month.

Overdeck’s publisher was kind enough to send me a review copy. As soon as it arrived, my daughter and I sat down to look at it.

Photo by Bedtime Math
Photo by Bedtime Math

At a little over two years old, my daughter is more interested in Curious George books than the relatively wordy Bedtime Math text, but even she found the cartoon pictures by Jim Paillot engaging, and I appreciated the interesting paragraphs describing the invention of Play-Doh, the flavor of astronaut ice cream, and the history of popsicles.

If you’ve seen the previous books, you’ll know what to expect from this one. Each entry is followed by three questions geared towards children just learning to count and compare, kids who can add and subtract small numbers, and kids who can multiply and divide. Occasional bonus questions loop in people of any age who like to solve fun problems.

In keeping with Overdeck’s message that math should be a game, she keeps the tone light and stress-free. She deliberately doesn’t give ages for the categories of questions because kids learn math at different rates. And she urges parents to keep that intent in mind. “It’s an activity, not a test,” she writes.

If you’re worried about keeping your kids up by giving them puzzles to think about–who has not had a sleepless night pondering some poser–she reassures the reader that she’s never heard of that happening and, besides, counting sheep is the traditional antidote for sleeplessness. But she also stresses that “Bedtime” math can actually just be “anytime” math.

And, indeed, I myself tend to use the questions less as actual questions and more as guides to the types of questions I can pose to my toddler.

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