A Picture Book Pedagogy for Early Childhood Mathematics Education

  • Liz DunphyEmail author


The current chapter synthesises a range of international research to argue the case that picture book sharing between children and educator, when appropriately conceived and constructed, can provide a rich and purposeful context in which to promote children’s mathematical development and learning. Furthermore, it is argued that the development of a pedagogy for early childhood mathematics education involving the sharing and exploration of picture books should be addressed in a systematic way at preservice teacher education. A comprehensive review of effective early mathematics education revealed that one key factor affecting young children’s mathematical development was the kind of purposeful opportunities afforded to them in their early childhood settings (Anthony & Walshaw, 2009). In emphasising that picture book sharing generally involves shared meaning making through language, as well as through interpretation of pictures, this chapter is consistent with the work of early childhood mathematics researchers who have sought to draw attention to the relationships between language and mathematical thinking (see, e.g. Ginsburg, Lee & Boyd, 2008; van Oers, 2013). The chapter begins by addressing key issues implicated in a pedagogy of picture book use in early childhood mathematics education. Three issues are addressed, each of which are examined in relation to their role in promoting learning and teaching: selecting a picture book; supporting children’s understanding and communication; and identifying the big mathematical ideas to be developed. In the latter part of the chapter the author discusses her own experience of an initiative designed to help preservice early childhood teachers to develop a pedagogy based on attention to these issues.



The author wishes to acknowledge the support and contributions of her colleagues on the Early Childhood Education Team in the Institute of Education, Dublin City University with whom she shared many discussions on how best to support students in developing their picture book pedagogies for early childhood mathematics education.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dublin City UniversityDublinIreland

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