Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New Book: Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle-School Math

One of my earliest blog posts was about Danica McKellar, the young actress who graduated from UCLA with a math degree. Along with recurring roles in THE WONDER YEARS and THE WEST WING, McKellar has co-writing a math theorem to her credit.

McKellar has written a new book designed to interest middle school girls in math. She uses examples from areas likely to appeal to young girls, including fashion and baking, to show why math is relevant to their lives.

McKellar told Newsweek "When girls see the antics of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, they think that being fun and glamorous also means being dumb and irresponsible. But I want to show them that being smart is cool. Being good at math is cool. And not only that, it can help them get what they want out of life."

I admire McKellar and what she aims to accomplish with her book. It sounds like something my middle schooler would find helpful; for example, we worked hard last year on retaining "rules" for fractions, and McKellar has hints along those lines in the book.

My only complaint is the tacky title: Did she really have to use the word "suck"? That one word causes me to be reticent about adding this book to our shelf. It might be the way a lot of kids talk, but it also undermines those parents who teach their children that that is not appropriate language.

More from USA Today.


Blogger Dana said...


Of course with respect toward your decisions re what is acceptable speech for your children, I have to say I am thrilled with this book, suck or not in the title. The battle to regain respect for intelligent young women who aren't skanks and parodies of themselves in their dumb bimbo personas must be fought hard and with anything available. If its slang, let it be.

What's staggers me at this point of the game is that we are fighting to promote intelligence and knock stupidity from its pop culture pedestal. Go figure.

7:46 PM  
Blogger jau said...

I think the title is one that will catch kids' attention so maybe that's a good reason for it. Plus, it's the publisher's choice, not hers, almost certainly.

By the way, her sister is an attorney in the firm where I work. How's that for continuing our small world connections?!

Best to you-

8:21 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

That is too funny that her sister works at your firm, Anne! I hope you and Dana are correct that the title will catch the intended "eyes." I am going to look the book over next time I'm in a store and see if its potential usefulness in our household might cause me to overcome my aversion to the title. :) I hope that the book succeeds in helping the intended audience -- not just in math but in rethinking the "coolness" of being smart.

Best wishes,

8:38 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Funny coincidence, after I read your comments, I just happened across a Newsday article which reveals that the book is dedicated to Danica McKellar's attorney sister Crystal, and that Danica's boyfriend came up with the title:


A Google search of Crystal McKellar reveals that she has extremely impressive academic credentials! That is one smart family. :) I'd forgotten she was on WONDER YEARS along with her sister.


9:14 PM  

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