The Baseball Counting Book

  • 795

By: Barbara Barbieri McGrath / Illustrated by: Brian Shaw

Step up to the plate with this counting book about America's favorite pastime.

The Baseball Counting Book is spring training for little sluggers. The count is zero to zero when the ump calls, "Play ball!" Nine innings later we've counted balls, strikes, players, fans, and more, all the way to twenty. No one strikes out with these fun rhymes. Little Leaguers will find themselves counting their way through practice and pointing out all the new things they've learned about this great game when they watch the pro's on TV or at the parks. Early readers will hit a home run with this charming counting book.

Look Inside the Book:

Author & Illustrator Bios:

Barbara Barbieri McGrath, author

Barbara Barbieri McGrath was a nursery school teacher before she dedicated herself to writing children's books full time. She is the author of The Little Red Elf, The Little Green Witch, and many bestselling math concept books. Barbara lives in Natick, Massachusetts.

Read more about Barbara.

Brian Shaw, illustrator

Brian Shaw has illustrated many books for Sea World and the Smithsonian Institution Oceanic Collection. He lives in Spring Arbor, Michigan.

Read more about Brian.

Awards & Honors:

  • Parent Council, Selected as Outstanding

Editorial Reviews:

Kirkus Reviews

An agreeable rhyming counting book with a baseball theme. The story opens on a little league field where the Blue Sox and the Stars face off. "Come play baseball/ You could be a hero./ The game's starting score/ is zero to zero." The teams of boys and girls run up the numbers to 20, and baseball rules and lore are imparted painlessly. "When there's a full count, we say, 'Three and two.'/ Five fingers up!/ His turn's almost through." A grand slam ends the game, with 19 ice cream cones and 20 baseball cards that give a clear and accurate summary of the main rules of the game. Shaw's stocky acrylic-on-board figures have less zest than his beautifully rendered bats and balls, lush green field and blue sky, and a friendly, ice-cream-loving dog. Younger children whose radar may have picked up McGwire and Sosa, Piazza and Brosius will be ready for spring training after this one.


This picture book uses baseball to count from 0 to 20 in rhyming verse. The rules and culture of the game are introduced as two Little League teams compete. The Blue Sox versus the Stars--who will win? Included in the text are the obvious choices of one ball, two teams, three strikes and less obvious choices such as "seventeen pairs of eyes watch the boy at home plate." However, at certain points this pattern strains: "Thirteen good-luck charms/ make some players feel/ That they will be safe/ when they try to steal." Shaw's acrylic paintings capture the excitement of a good game played by teams made up of both boys and girls.

Teaching Children Mathematics

The author has chosen a very appealing and relevant subject-baseball-to help teach children to count from 1 to 20. Her presentation in the form of rhyme is particularly appealing to children, both for its rhythm and its predictability. Each page is full of counting opportunities through its text as well as its fine illustrations.

Throughout the book, many opportunities can be found to extend its role as a counting book into other areas of mathematics and into other disciplines. For example, exploring such shapes as home plate, the baseball field, the ball, the bat, and the megaphone can become a lesson in geometry. Discussing team statistics could later involve class charts, graphs, or perhaps spreadsheets. The introduction of Abner Doubleday could lead to learning more about him by reading his biography or biographies of other baseball legends. The author also includes a glossary of baseball terms presented in the format of baseball cards.

One of my second-grade students evaluated this story very explicitly: "The one thing I did not like about this book was that it was too short." The book is full of counting opportunities and is a springboard for many other learning experiences. I would recommend this book for use at many different levels.

Children's Literature

For readers learning to play baseball or those who just love the game, this is the book for them. Packed with details like how many players on a team and how to keep score, it's sure to be a hit. What's especially clever about this book is that it's a counting book too. So while they're learning about baseball, they'll be learning to count! Realistic paintings bring the game to life as does the action. From picking out equipment to celebrate with ice cream young readers will be entertained by this clever rhyming, counting book.


Download the Cover


ISBN: 978-0-88106-333-2

E-book PDF
ISBN: 978-1-60734-200-7

Spanish language edition
ISBN: 978-1-57091-608-3

For information about purchasing E-books, click here.

Ages: 3-6
Page count: 32
11 x 8 1/2


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