This book is a mathematical folk tale. It also happens to be a great read aloud book, especially for third grade. Even the most fidgety child is amazed and applauds at the end of the book. I love the colorful drawings.
Once there was a greedy raja in India who asked all of his subjects to give him nearly all of their rice, so he could store the rice safely in case there came a famine. However, when the famine came, the raja kept all the peoples’ rice for himself. One day, a young woman was gathering rice that had dropped from the raja’s baskets onto the road. She was arrested for stealing and brought before the raja. The girl, named Rani, cleverly told the raja that she was simply returning the rice to him. He was pleased and granted her one wish. She asked him to give her one grain of rice and then double the grains of rice every day for thirty days. The raja, clearly not clever at math, readily agreed, thinking Rani a fool. Little did the raja suspect that in thirty days, one grain of rice on day one would result in his giving more than one billion grains of rice by day thirty. Asking Rani what she would do with the rice she received, Rani replied that she would feed the hungry. The raja then mended his ways and became a truly wise and fair raja. The best part of reading this book aloud is always the “oohs and aahs” I get when I fold out page at the end of the book, showing the 256 elephants it takes to carry the millions of grains of rice the raja had to deliver.