Son of Chung L. (a professor) and Louise L. (a professor) Tang; children: three children. Education: Harvard University, B.A. (economics), M.A. (economics); New York University, M.A. (math education). Hobbies and other interests: Tennis, running, gardening.
Pfizer, New York, NY, worked in systems department, and then strategic planning group; Technovations Inc., New York, NY, founder, 1989; founder of tae kwon-do school in Boston, MA, 1997; Fitness First, Arlington, VA, manager, 1997. Creator of TopPresenter (software product for real-estate industry), 1995.
The Grapes of Math: Mind-Stretching Math Riddles, illustrated by Harry Briggs, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2001.
The Best of Times, illustrated by Harry Briggs, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2002.
Math for All Seasons: Mind-Stretching Math Riddles, illustrated by Harry Briggs, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2002.
Math Appeal, illustrated by Harry Briggs, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2003.
Math-terpieces: The Art of Problem-Solving, Scholastic Press (New York, NY), 2003.
Math Fables: Lessons That Count, illustrated by Heather Cahoon, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2004.
Math Potatoes: More Mind-Stretching Brain Food, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2005.
Work in Progress
Developing a system for teaching math that includes picture books, activity sheets, math games, and manipulatives.
Greg Tang combines his love of numbers with his flair for language in the children's books The Grapes of Math: Mind-Stretching Math Riddles, Math for All Seasons: Mind-Stretching Math Riddles, and Math Fables: Lessons That Count. With a master's degree in economics from Harvard University and a math education degree from New York University, Tang incorporates his extensive training into his children's titles, yet does so with a simplicity that allows children to learn math in a fun way. "My challenge was to figure out how to make [math] fun and instructive," noted Tang on his home page. "My goal was for kids to be able to work on their computational skills and at the same time become better problem solvers. I wanted them to see firsthand how far a little common sense and clever thinking went."
Tang's inspiration for writing children's books was gained while he was tutoring math in his daughter's first-grade class. Inspecting the dominoes the students were utilizing, Tang noticed pencil marks within the domino dots. As he noted, "It immediately struck me that working with patterns of dots would be a great visual way to teach arithmetic and an effective way to teach problem solving."
Problem solving is the basis of The Grapes of Math, in which picture puzzles and rhyming verses provide clues to solving the puzzles. School Library Journal reviewer Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst commented that Tang's "goofy rhymes set a humorous tone. Through patterns, grouping, and creative thinking," Tang's puzzles "will have children adding, subtracting, and multiplying."
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The Grapes of Math also provides solutions to each riddle at the end of the book, fully detailing the process used to obtain the answers. Noting that Tang's inventive rhymes accompany colorful computer-generated illustrations, a contributor to Publishers Weekly acknowledged that The Grapes of Math serves as a "clever collection of puzzles [that] could spark the interest of even the mathematically challenged."
Tang uses the changing of seasons as the backdrop of Math for All Seasons, published in 2002. Booklist contributor Hazel Rochman wrote that the math featured in the book "is not by rote, but in the things children do," thus allowing young students to relate the riddles to their everyday lives. Math for All Seasons includes double-page illustrations that take readers through the four seasons and encourage budding mathematicians to problem solve by teaching children to group items and illustrating the patterns and symmetries that can be found in numbers. Barbara Auerbach, writing in School Library Journal, observed that the book's "appealing artwork, poetry, holiday and seasonal themes, and challenges add up to a winning combination."
Booklist contributor Carolyn Phelan, in reviewing Math-terpieces: The Art of Problem-Solving, noted that Tang "challenge[s] children to take a playful approach to learning math." Math-terpieces incorporates the works of twelve famous artists, including Andy Warhol, Henri Matisse, and Edgar Degas by replicating their famous masterpieces. The book also teaches children how to problem solve by grouping objects found in each of the paintings. Nancy A. Gifford, writing in School Library Journal, pointed out that Math-terpieces "is far more appealing than most," while a reviewer for Kirkus Reviews regarded Tang's work as "attractive and intriguing."
Regarded by School Library Journal reviewer Grace Oliff as "an energizing departure from the standard math lesson," Math Potatoes: More Mind-Stretching Brain Food is the seventh entry in Tang's math series. In Math Potatoes Tang utilizes an array of foods in playing his math games, among them pickles and potatoes. Rochman commented in Booklist that Math Potatoes "goes far beyond the usual simple counting book. The games are complex, the visuals are tricky," and "readers must think carefully about adding, subtracting, and multiplying." Tang uses an original teaching method—grouping numbers—to help children solve the math riddles and, as in previous works, he includes a solutions section at the end of the book detailing how to solve each riddle. A writer for Kirkus Reviews concluded that "even numerically challenged readers can count on coming away with some time and labor saving techniques for toting things up."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, February 1, 2002, Hazel Rochman, review of Math for All Seasons: Mind-Stretching Math Riddles, p. 944; July, 2005, Hazel Rochman, review of Math Potatoes: Mind-Stretching Brain Food, p. 1919.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2003, review of Math-terpieces: The Art of Problem-Solving, p. 811.
Publishers Weekly, February 12, 2001, review of The Grapes of Math: Mind-Stretching Math Riddles, p. 212.
School Library Journal, March, 2001, Lucinda Synder Whitehurst, review of The Grapes of Math, p. 243; August, 2003, Nancy A. Gifford, review of Math-terpieces, p. 153; August, 2005, Grace Oliff, review of Math Potatoes: More Mind-Stretching Brain Food, p. 118.
Greg Tang Home Page, http://www.gregtang.com (June 5, 2006).
TeachingK-8.com, http://www.teachingk-8.com/ (June 28, 2005), Katherine Pierpont, "Greg Tang: Making Math Count."