Backpack-Busting Books

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.

Backpack-Busting Books

January 23, 2018

Books are very heavy for their size. After all, they’re basically chunks of wood, just pressed into thin sheets of paper. So our friend Genevieve B. asked, how big is the world’s biggest book? Turns out there’s more than one answer, because it depends what you mean by “book.” If we mean a bunch of paper pages stuck together, the Guinness World Record goes to “This the Prophet Muhammed,” a 16-foot tall, 13-foot wide giant with 429 pages. That’s a huge book! Also, the book that explains Brazil’s rules for paying taxes (money to help run the country) is ridiculous: it’s 6 feet 10 inches tall, and has more than 41,000 pages that size. But if the book can be made of something other than paper, the heavyweight winner might be “The Pali Canon” (Buddhist scripture), whose 1,460 pages are actually 5-foot stone tablets. Let’s hope you never need to carry those in your backpack.

Wee ones: Which is taller, the 5-foot stone “book” or the 6-foot paper book?

Little kids: If you can reach 6 feet high off the ground, how many feet taller is the 16-foot tall book?  Bonus: If Richard Scarry’s “Biggest Word Book Ever” is 2 feet tall, how many would you have to stack end to end to match the 16-foot book?

Big kids: When you open that 13-footwide book, it becomes twice as wide! How far across the “table” would it stretch?  Bonus: Brazil’s tax code weighs “several tons.” If it weighs 4 tons and you can carry 10 pounds on your back, how many kids like you would it take to carry the Brazil book? (Reminder if needed: A ton equals 2,000 pounds.)




Wee ones: The 6-foot book.

Little kids: 10 feet taller.  Bonus: 8 of them.

Big kids: 26 feet — as wide as a small house.  Bonus: 800 kids, since the book weighs 8,000 pounds!

And thank you Genevieve for a real page-turner of a math problem!

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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 before she could walk, 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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