Bug-Sized Book

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

Bug-Sized Book

September 19, 2013

Even in this age of screens, there’s something nice about turning the pages of a big, new book full of pictures. Well, that all feels a little different when the book is barely an 1/8 of an inch wide! Last month librarians uncovered one of the world’s teeniest books, at the library at the University of Iowa. As you can see in the photo, it’s about the size of a ladybug, and the words are too tiny to read without a magnifying glass. This book happens to be a chapter from the Bible, but the Iowa library has a collection of 4,000 miniature books. If you want to stop by for an hour of two of reading, you’d better bring your microscope.

Wee ones: If you put 1 of those teeny books on each of your fingers, how many would you have?

Little kids: If you put 6 of these mini-books in each of your 2 pant pockets, how many books can you carry at once? (Make sure your pockets have no holes!)  Bonus: If you can hold another batch of 10 books between your hands, now how many books can you carry?

Big kids: If all the mini-books were as teeny as this one, and you could grab 100 miniature books off the shelf at once, how many handfuls would it take for you to grab them all?  Bonus: The teeny book has a “big sister” book, an exact copy that is 1 3/8 inches wide. How many times as wide is the big book, if the little one is 1/8 of an inch wide? (Hint for those new to fractions: 1 inch is 8/8ths.)

The sky’s the limit: If folding a piece of paper in half gives you 4 pages to start (back and front of each section), how many more times do you need to fold it to create a 1,024 teeny-page book?




Wee ones: 10 teeny books.

Little kids: 12 teeny books.  Bonus: 22 books.

Big kids: 40 handfuls.  Bonus: 11 times as wide, since 1+3/8 is the same as 11/8.

The sky’s the limit: You need 8 more folds, to get you to 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, and finally 1,024 pages.

And a big thank-you (and a happy birthday!) to Talie B. for sharing this story with us!

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About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking while still in diapers, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

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