Do you have a student or child that struggles in math? Maybe the child does well on daily assignments but poorly on test. Are you the frustrated parents with a high aptitude in math, but Johnny or Susie cannot even memorize their multiplication facts? If so, I strongly recommend you read this book, Last to Finish: A Story about the Smartest Boy in Math Class
, by Barbara Esham.
First, any child that has not memorized his multiplication facts or experiences test anxiety will identify with the main character, Max. Max is a 3rd grader who says he can complete his math facts if he takes his time. However, whenever the teacher uses the almighty timer, his brain freezes, and he is the last to finish with practically a blank paper. Thus, his classmates make fun of him. Did I mention he somehow loses his math folder, and to make matters worse his parents and he are called in for a parent – teacher conference? I won’t spoil the end, but your child, your student, and you will have renewed hope and encouragement.
Secondly, the story reminds us that every child does not learn the same. This fun story filled with illustrations could be used to start a conversation about learning styles and learning obstacles. Just because Max or your child has a challenge with multiplication facts does not mean they will be poor math students. In the middle of your smiles and little laughs while reading, Last to Finish
, I think teachers and parents will give thought about their expectations, teaching strategies, and the wise advise shared. In addition the author reassures children that others have overcome obstacles, and there is hope and help available. Bottom line, not all smart people are good at everything!
Lastly, I like how the author has given the reader a snapshot of a realistic story supported with research. In the back of the book, the author shares resources for parents, teachers, and of course the kids. In fact, Last to Finish: A story about the Smartest Math Boy in Class
, is part of a series entitled, Adventures of Everyday Geniuses
and received the Parents' Choice 2008 Recommended Award.