“How Much Is a Million?” by David Schwartz


Some people upgrade from zero to a hero, others  from zero to… a million. Or a billion. Some earn it, some win it, and I am sadly in neither category. It’s unfortunate, but most likely for a reason.  Such big numbers are just too abstract to me!

And that’s why I was quite thrilled to come across today’s picture book.

In “How Much Is a Million?” David Schwartz helps children  (and some mathematically illiterate parents, like myself) to visualize big numbers. If one million/billion/trillion kids climbed on one another’s shoulders, how big would be the tower? Would it be taller than the biggest buildings? Would they reach the moon or jupiter? How long would it take to count to one million/billion/trillion? Days or maybe years? How big should be a bowl to contain a million/billion/trillion goldfish? As big as a stadium or maybe a city harbor?

I must say, the visualizations are as creative as surprising, and most importantly, calculated.  I would have never guessed that counting to a trillion would be a matter of over two hundred years.  Mind boggling!  At the same, time the writing is very engaging and approachable and the book is warmly illustrated by Steven Kellogg. My five year-old-number-lover made me read the story over and over again and every time his eyes seemed to glow with wonder “Wow! Really?”

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