on May 24, 2009
I am a mother that went back to college later in life. One of my classes was algebra. I had math anxiety and tried to find way to wiggle my way out of this class. The algebra class was very difficult for me. I could not understand the instructor or the book. I went to tutors,family members and friends and I could not get algebra. I failed the class. I was embarrassed and angry with my myself. I needed something right away. So my boyfriend and I went to Barnes & Nobles and purchased Kiss My Math & Math Doesn't suck. (I do suggest that you purchase both). So I had a six week break before I had to take the algebra class again. I am happy to say that I passed the algebra class with a B and I am looking forward to starting MATH 209 which is the second part of algebra. Danica was easy to understand and the experiences from other young ladies helped a great deal too. Thanks Danica!
This funny math book teaches girls that it's OK to be smart, and that they are perfectly capable of kicking a little pre-algebra butt.
McKellar takes a lightweight approach to math, but is deadly serious about it. In the prologue, she writes that "lots of people change their majors and abandon their dreams just to avoid a couple of math classes in college." Girls in particular, she emphasizes, often use their fear of math to keep them from learning the skills they'll need to succeed in life, and they start backing away from the subject in middle school.
And it's not just fear. Girls often don't see how they'll use math once they get out of school. Testimonials in Kiss My Math fight this. Stephanie Perry, the finance director for Essence magazine, explains how she uses algebraic formulas to stay on top of the magazine's financial performance. Jane Davis, financial strategist at Polo Ralph Lauren, was hired as an assistant buyer because of her facility with math. She describes determining inventory over time by finding the mean of a list of numbers.
McKellar -- famous for playing Winnie Cooper in the "The Wonder Years" but also a summa cum laude math graduate from UCLA -- uses simple language and lots of illustrations to teach pre-algebra. Each chapter covers a single topic, such as the distributive property or exponents. She clearly explains each topic, and includes problems for the reader to solve (answers are in the back). The author is generous with helpful notes and shortcuts.
A lively, breezy writing style makes it seem as if McKellar is sitting next to the reader. She uses examples girls can relate to, like clothes shopping, working on the school play, blind dates, parties, kissing and breath mints. It's like having the perfect math tutor. (I'm not a middle school girl, of course, but I just got finished having one. My daughter is starting high school this month.)
Especially good are the entries called Danica's Diary, which are true stories from the author's life as a student, actress and mathematician. One is titled: Dumbing Ourselves Down for Guys: Why is it so Tempting? McKellar gives practical advice on how girls can avoid this common pitfall.
I can't think of a better book to buy for a girl taking pre-algebra.
Here's the chapter list:
Part 1: Number Stuff
Chapter 1: Breath Mint, Anyone? Adding and Subtracting Integers (Including Negative Numbers).
Chapter 2: The Popular Crowd. The Associative and Commutative Properties.
Chapter 3: Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall... Multiplying and Dividing Integers (Including Negative Numbers!)
Chapter 4: A Relaxing Day at the Spa. Intro to Absolute Value.
Chapter 5: Long-Distance Relationships: Are They Worth It? Mean, Median, Mode.
You Said: Most Embarrassing Moments in School
Poll: What Guys Really Think... About Smart Girls
Quiz: Are You a Stress Case?
Part 2: Variable Stuff
Chapter 6: The Blind Date. Getting Cozy with Variables.
Chapter 7: Backpack Too Heavy? Adding and Subtracting with Variables.
Chapter 8: Something Just Went "Squish." Multiplying and Dividing with Variables.
Chapter 9: Do You Like Him Like Him? Combining Like Terms.
Chapter 10: The Costume Party. The Distributive Property.
Chapter 11: Didn't That Guy Say He Was Going to Call? Using Variables to Translate Word Problems.
More Than 20 Ways to Beat Stress
Math... In Jobs You Might Never Expect!
Part 3: Solving for X
Chapter 12: The Art of Gift Wrapping. Solving Equations.
Chapter 13: Nope, She Never Gets Off the Phone. Word Problems and Variable Substitution.
Chapter 14: Can a Guy Be Too Cute? Intro to Solving and Graphing Inequalities.
You Said: Your Horror Stories About Procrastination
Poll: What Guys Really Think... About Talented Girls
Quiz: Do You Pick Truly Supportive Friends?
Part 4: All About Exponents
Chapter 15: Champagne and Caviar. Intro to Exponents.
Chapter 16: Excuse Me, Have We Met Before? Intro to Variables with Exponents.
You Said: Well... That Didn't Work!
Do You Sudoku?
Part 5: Intro to Functions and Graphing Lines
Chapter 17: Secret Sausages. Intro to Functions.
Chapter 18: Creative Uses for Bubblegum. Intro to Graphing Points and Lines.
A Final Word
Math Test Survival Guide!
on November 16, 2008
Danica McKellar is a beautiful actress who is probably very well off and successful. So why did she go to UCLA to study math after being a very successful child star on the wonder years and then bother to write a book entitled Math Doesn't Suck. Well it is because she wanted to prove she was more than just a good looking actress. She had a brain and could handle math. The attitude that math is not for the ladies was a horrible prejudice in my high school years and even in this enlightened age we haven't quite gotten over it and many a capable young lady lacks the confidence and courage to try to do math. Danica is a rol model who proves that they can. Her first book was so successful and helped young middle school girls overcome their fears and lkearn that math is not really hard and can be fun and interesting whenit is approached in the riht way. So math does not suck! But in addition to convincing young girls and boys that they can learn it she became encouraged to write another book based on the encouraging emails from young ladies who benefitted from the book. Well love of math should not end with middle school and algebra, geometry and calculus are very different form the kind of math you learn in the elementary and middle schools that a good series of lectures in pre-algebra is needed to help those who become discouraged again in high school. It bothers Danica to see a girlfriend of hers give up on medical school just because calculus is required. So in the same interesting style as her first book Danica interest the high schoolers with concepts like negative numbers, mathematical inequalities, exponential functions and much more. By uncovering the mysteries of pre-algebra Danica unlocks the door to advanced levels of mathematics that students in high school need. This book is good for high school teachers and anyone else with an interest in mathematics. But it is aimed at and can help most high school girls who are capable of doing well in math and nedd it for the careers they seek, like med school.
on November 20, 2008
This may be the best math resource for the new 7th grader that is on the shelf today. Our son started 7th grade pre-algebra this year and, while he is an A student in other subjects, this brought him (and us) to our knees. Danica's book has been able to make every chapter in the school text book capable of being understood. Danica has some funny ways she gets the kids to humanize some of the more technical aspects of math, making the concept easier to relate to and to remember. Our son just finished the first trimester with a B+ and we are certain this would have been a C or less if we did not have Danica's book. This is the best $15 you will spend helping your kids in pre-algebra.
on December 5, 2008
I highly recommend this book for high-school girls. It is a guide or a text in elementary algebra. What makes this book stand out is that it uses silly analogies, it explains the algebra well, it boosts the girl's self-esteem, and it is relevant to her life.
One of the first things Danika does is that she gives us the order of operations: parentheses, exponentiation and so forth, spelling the acronym PEMDAS. She calls these pandas and shows some pandas doing some math. She even expands PEMDAS into "Pandas eat mustard on dumplings and apples with spice." She makes functions into sausage factories. (for veggie sausages, let's hope). Silly analogies like this have been shown to enhance memory of things. So this would be a good book to use for studying for a test.
She explains the math well. Her use of a cutesy daisy for an unknown shows that there is nothing particularly special in alphabet letters. I like her way of dealing with word problems. Sometimes you get an equation with a large number of minus signs; this can be kind of hairy. Her remedy is to multiply everything by -1. Most textbooks say to clear complex fractions by multiplying by a common denominator, but few have this type of advice. She tells us that word problems involves English grammar as well as mathematics, and lists the mathematical equivalents for such expressions as "is less than" or "three times".
The book is not entirely about math. Math for some reason causes stress in people, including high-school girls. So she includes plenty of material on how to relieve stress. She tells girls how to deal with boys in an assertive and positive way. And she has plenty of testimonials from girls who deal with mathematics in some way.
One of her chapters is entitled "Nope, she never gets off the phone". She starts this chapter, on word problems, with a problem that has appeared in everyone's lives. There are two phone plans, which she calls Fabulous Fones ($14/month and 10 cents/min) and Happy Talk (no monthly charge and 30 cents/min) and she poses the problem of which is best. This word problem leads to an equation with a solution that tells when you should switch from one plan to the other. She shows us how to solve real world problems as well as the problems one is likely to encounter on math tests. One of the best sections of the book is a list of possible careers for women and how math is used in each.
Here are a few tips for improvement. She brings up a phrase "seven less than twice x". She tells us that this should not get a < sign because it is not a sentence. But what about the student that writes 7 - 2x? She should explain how this should be 2x - 7 instead. She brings up exponents in a few places and even has a good sidebar on how sending a kitty video to 5 people who in turn sends to 5 people can quickly reach a huge number of people. She should emphasize here that this could cause problems for web servers. Further, I would liked to have seen a section on what exponents and the exponential function mean for our world; many of today's problems are caused by exponential growth of people and material possessions.
But this is an improvement on her previous book and I highly recommend this book for young girls. She has helped bring mathematical literacy to the world.
on September 3, 2008
Danica's book is a gem. Her love for math is infectious. Math doesn't have to be a drag. Danica makes it fun: she'll make you laugh. She's sort of like a girlfriend who's all giggly about her boyfriend, but it's math.
I know the feeling -- it's the feeling of knowing something so well that you just want to share it. Danica's confidence will inspire confidence in her young readers. Plus, Danica gives young readers tools for raising self-esteem: a stress survey that young readers will surely appreciate, and a friends survey. Danica knows that self-esteem starts with self-approval, and if you can manage stress and have supportive friends, you'll have the confidence to succeed.
Here's what Danica wrote on her website: "My main concern with mathematics in high school is that there's a lot of fear involved! Math is not, generally speaking, presented in a fun way. The concepts, as I see them, ARE fun, and that's the way I'd like to convey them myself."
Danica has taken the concepts behind pre-algebra and presented them in a whole new way. Coefficients and variables get cozy and kiss, and absolute values are like a soothing sauna. You'd never know that integers fall into minty ranges, from ooky Harry Potter flavors (on the negative side of the number line) to yummy raspberry and orange (on the positive). And there's a reason for that. Read the book and find out what that reason is!
Kiss My Math isn't meant to replace a school textbook -- it's more like a supplement, and hopefully it will make reading your regular textbook more fun, plus, it should give you a new angle on your homework! Danica is careful never to make math seem simpler than it is, or trivial. Math is basically hard work, and Danica will make you work! She's even kind of sassy and bossy sometimes!
This book is written for girls, and Danica's advice is: don't dumb yourselves down! You can be a math scholar and still be popular. The thing is, have fun and be creative. If you don't like using x's and y's for variables, go ahead and use little flower and heart symbols. You can use whatever you want as long as you follow the rules!
Pre-algebra and algebra are lifelong skills, as revealed by so many women who share their stories in Danica's book. Plus, Danica shares a few stories of her own, never straying far from math, and always bringing things back to what you need to know. So why not have fun while you learn?
on September 9, 2008
Any book that can get a group of 7th graders talking about math is something unique, so Kiss My Math has my vote for that point alone.
Working with middle school aged girls on math and science is often a difficult task in schools, so after hearing an interview and reading a review of Danica McKellar's book, I decided to order a copy for my 12 year old daughter--who has had her trials with math in the past year. I was surprised to see her take the book to a friend's house recently, and asked her later whether they had actually read any of it. She gave me one of those looks I get so frequently now that she is an adolescent, and smiled back, "we really loved her examples of how to do math problems, and spent most of the afternoon going through the book." Needless to say, that was a first. I would recommend that parents take a look at the chapters to make sure Danica isn't sharing some deep, dark secrets about boys that you don't want your daughter to learn (there weren't any I found to be objectionable). It might be a book to have in every middle school library (several copies) as recommended reading.....
on April 29, 2009
I was a little concerned about buying these books for my sons, ages 12, 13, 14 so I wrote in and inquired if it was just for girls or would boys benefit as well. Ms. McKellar personally responded saying they would learn math and probably learn something about girls in the process. I told the boys that I got an email from the author and what she said and they replied, "Yea, we learned that boys/men don't want a dumb girl but they don't want the girl to be smarter than them either." I told them they better study their math then. : )
The boys are enjoying the books and they are a good reminder of the basics of algebra.
on February 23, 2013
I teach middle school math and this book helps me to reach some of my girls that are so disinterested in math it makes me want to cry. They thought some of the ways she describes the topics was relatable and funny. Definitely recommend for both parents, students and teachers.
on October 11, 2009
Once my daughter, who is now 11, and I finally gave the books, Math Doesn't Suck and Kiss My Math, a chance we were very impressed. My daughter has always taken responsibility for her own education, so if she chooses to use a particular book often, I take notice. She likes that, while so many explanations may be long, they are never presented in a dry manner. The first reason I had not mentioned them to her earlier was because I felt that she was not a "girly girl" and wouldn't like the style of the books, but it turns out that a person need not be "girly" at all. I was also surprised that she was able to identify, and even enjoy, the stories peppered throughout the books that focus on mainstream school topics, even though she is home educated. We had originally borrowed them from the library, but quickly realized that these were keepers and purchased them. They work well for the purposes of learning a concept the first time, and as a reference book. I have not noticed my sons giving these books any attention, so I am not yet sure if they would have much value to boys, but they seem like they would be great for most girls, whether they are "girly" or not.