Geometry was one of my favorite kinds of math. I loved learning how shapes worked, and even memorizing theorems and postulates. I especially enjoyed the challenge of doing geometric proofs. I looked at them like logic puzzles, forcing me to find a way from point A to point B using only the tools I knew up to that point. But I realize that I’m one of the lucky ones, girls who naturally like math, in and of itself. Not all girls are that lucky, however, and Danica McKellar writes books for those girls.
Next in Danica’s series of books aimed at middle school girls is Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape. Along with her other books (Math Doesn’t Suck, Kiss My Math, and Hot X: Algebra Exposed!), Girls Get Curves lays out math concepts in a way that many girls that age will understand, using math to describe such things as making assumptions about people, and using stories to describe parallelograms. Full of concrete and well-explained mathematical concepts, Danica inserts plenty of asides, stories, and cute, “girly” drawings among the angles, tangents, and proofs. She puts concepts that might be new or difficult to understand in terms that kids can understand, and relating to things with which they are already familiar.
Nine parts math book one part Seventeen magazine, this large and extensive reference is a great companion to any Geometry textbook for girls needing some additional support. Danica makes a few things clear to her readers. She says that girls are smart. Girls can handle challenges. Math is not intimidating if you learn how it can relate to your life and experiences. She makes math fun and familiar, and tries to teach math in a friendly and conversational way.
Additionally, Danica includes bits about stress relief, body image, mind/body connection, and other topics that middle school-aged girls will find useful. She gives girls the tools to help them be confident in a variety of areas, though this is often well-hidden among the math.
Danica McKellar herself is very well educated in mathematics, having graduated summa cum laude from UCLA. While there, she co-authored a scientific paper, and has a theorem partially named after her. But all of that knowledge doesn’t stop her from getting quotes and extensive input via surveys from math teachers around the country that are with students in the target age range every day.
Despite a cover that looks a bit like a teen magazine, the book is full of valuable and well-done math education. Any teenage girl who struggles with math even a little bit could use Danica’s books to help them understand, and get enthusiastic about, the subject. Regardless of what kids want to do with their lives, math is important to learn, because it creates mental pathways, and to understand, so we aren’t fooled by advertising, so we can balance our checkbooks, so we can form a monthly budget, and to make sure we have the best insurance for our families.
Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape retails for $28.95 but can be found cheaper at places like Amazon. I recommend it to any preteen or teenage girl who struggles with math, wants to learn about math in a new way, or can’t get enough math. Basically, all teenage girls. I plan to find the whole series for my daughter.
Note: I received a copy of Girls Get Curves for the purposes of this review.