The Math Teacher Who Made Picture Books

Mitsumasa Anno

Reading Comprehension for March 20

Mitsumasa Anno was born in Japan in 1926. He always wanted to be an artist. Instead he became a math teacher. That was a good job; he loved math. He loved numbers, logic, insects, and art. His students learned a lot. He said that children are natural math experts. Did you ever count the number of grapes, carrot sticks, or little candies you were given? Did you look to see if anyone got more than you did? Lots of kids do that. They are using math. They learn to count before they learn to read!

After teaching for ten years, Anno quit teaching to draw pictures and write books. His new focus was picture books for children of all ages. He wanted to paint the pictures. He might write something to go with the pictures. He might not write anything at all. His pictures would tell the story! He uses watercolors to make his pictures. The reader can't glance at a page and then turn to the next one. There is much to discover in each picture! Anno uses math in his books. Some pictures are like puzzles. Anno puts a lot of thought into each page.

In 2004, Anno published Anno's Spain. His books have been translated into other languages. People around the world have enjoyed his books, from Anno's Magical ABC to Anno's U.S.A.. That last one is from a series about the man's travels. Anno created picture books to tell of the places he has visited. He said that people may speak, dress, or look different, but they are still a lot alike. "The essence of being human is the same everywhere."

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