The Boy Who Loved Math is an unusual biography of Paul Erdos, an eccentric mathematician who grew up in Budapest during WWI. His mother was a math teacher and he was extraordinarily comfortable with numbers. As a child, he wasn’t comfortable with much of anything else, but math made sense to him and helped put order in his life. He didn’t start making friends until he went to high school and there were others like him who enjoyed math and liked to question the world around them. Erdos never fit into the world where people stay in one place and learn to do things for themselves, but he made a world for himself and spread his love of math far and wide.
I loved that the book played with numbers as a part of the illustrations and included facts that even young children could grasp on to, like how can a number be less than zero. The facts themselves got harder as his math knowledge increased, but the illustrations are charming enough that children should still be able to enjoy it.
The final message that you are left with is about being true to your own nature, as crazy as that nature might be. Rather than trying to conform to the boxes that society puts on us, when you have a true passion for something, as Erdos did, there are ways to follow your heart and make something of yourself. The book is a great lesson about Erdos, about the wonders of mathematics and about loving something completely.
I happen to be a big fan of math. I was never someone who was exceptionally comfortable with creative acts like painting or even story telling, but logic problems, puzzles and math itself was something I always loved. This book spoke to that part of me that knows the love of numbers and black and white answers. I am also a big proponent of nurturing the love of math and numbers in children, so this was a win to me. The beginning speaks well to children of all ages, while the second half of the book seems more appropriate for older children.