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The Best Algebra Textbooks 2016

We have to come clean in this one. We did not recognize a word of those algebra textbooks. But possibly if we were given one in high school, we would be better organized. Don't allow your child be like us. We've got included variants that take college students from the basics of algebra through to lots of its more advanced and complicated concepts.

Algebra and Trigonometry 4th EdAlgebra: Structure and Method, Book 1Algebra Survival Guide: A Conversational Guide for the Thoroughly BefuddledAlgebra 1 Common Core Student Edition, Grade 8-9Algebra for College Students (8th Edition)McDougal Littell Algebra 1 (McDougal Littell Mathematics)Algebra 1 (Prentice Hall Mathematics)College Algebra (10th Edition)


A Lesson In Mathematics

Few subjects in school send students into a state of cross-eyed confusion more readily than mathematics. Even among students who naturally excel at it, who are somehow more attuned to the principals of the mathematical world, there can be a resistance to the subject.

I've had some good conversations with mathematician friends of mine, as well as a couple current math teachers, about why so many students balk at math more than other classes. I expected most of them to tell me that math is just harder to learn, or that the majority of human brains simply aren't built to wrap themselves around concepts beyond a certain level.

To my surprise, the bulk of the conversations I had shared a common thread. It's not that higher levels of math are necessarily more difficult to learn; most of the people I talked to said that certain higher levels of math are actually harder to teach.

That may seem like a matter of semantics, but take a look at how we physically interact with our world using math. Learning addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division through elementary school, we find ourselves applying what we learn on a near daily basis. Going to the store for snacks, saving up our allowance for a new video game–everything about this mathematical experience is tangible.

It's when we get into the intangibles that things get hairy. Most school textbooks covering algebra or geometry spend 90% of their pages explaining concepts and formulas as dryly as possible, and finish off each chapter with a petty attempt at exemplifying a scenario in which you might actually apply a given lesson.

That's all well and good for the one student in a thousand who goes on to become an architect, but there's no hook in it for the rest of us. When I got to college, after sloughing through years of unintelligible, inapplicable math textbooks, I took a practical physics class, and I realized what all math textbooks needed, which is something these algebra books have in varying degrees: a sense of wonder.

The seven books on our list all combine centuries worth of algebraic discovery into a few hundred pages of lessons, quizzes, and examples, but in recent years–likely in response to this sense among math teachers that there was something missing from their books–math texts have been imbued with a greater sense of magic, with the idea that numbers have meanings and implications we can only begin to grasp.

A Method To Your Mathness


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As important as I think a sense of mystery is to the education of young mathematical minds, you may completely disagree. And that's fine. Like I said, there are varying degrees of wonder spread through the books on our list, so you can go with the driest among them if that suits your style.

After all, each of us learns in slightly different ways. I know that I need my sense of suspicion and curiosity stimulated for my brain to open up to new information. I suspect that this is true of most brains, though I'm sure some shut down as soon as things get philosophical.

As you read up on the descriptions offered for each of the algebra textbooks on our list, it'd be worth keeping in mind your personal learning style. If you're investigating these books as teaching tools, then a close look at your teaching style will be just as useful.

When I taught English for a year at my old high school before heading to graduate school, I actually preferred the drier texts to the more evocative ones. I found that I flew so far off the handle imaginatively that if I had a textbook that did the same, we'd never get anything done. I used a more conservative packet of materials to ground my teaching insanity.

You might be just the opposite, preferring a text that can elevate your lessons to new heights. Whatever your approach, there's a book on this list that'll fit the mold. Not all of the algebra texts on this list approach the same educational levels, either, so make sure that fit is suited to the height you wish to teach or to attain.

Ages Of Algebra


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It's a comfortable thing for westerners to attribute all of the great historical achievements of mankind to Greek and Roman thinkers, but the roots of algebra and other mathematical works reach back much farther than that.

Archeologists and math historians have dated the oldest texts known to man that elucidate algebraic concepts to sometime between 2000 and 1500 BCE. These texts–the Babylonian Plimpton 322 tablet and the Egyptian Rhind papyrus–both put forth models of linear equations.

The work of these ancient mathematicians spread to the critical thinkers of Greek antiquity, whose work then spread to the Persian empire. By the time the Persian mathematicians made their own great strides in the art, they'd already distributed the thought eastward and into India and China. At the height of the Persian empire, western Europe received a new taste of evolved algebra up through Spain.

All this rich history covering centuries of exploration, experimentation, and expression, all so sleepy students could have the luxury of checking out in the middle of math class and thinking, instead, about their crush sitting across the classroom.


#8.College Algebra (10th Edition)


Michael Sullivan, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at Chicago State University, received a Ph.D. in mathematics from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Mike taught at Chicago State for 35 years before recently retiring. He is a native of Chicago’s South Side and divides his time between a home in Oak Lawn IL and a condo in Naples FL.

Mike is a member of the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America. He is a past president of the Text and Academic Authors Association and is currently Treasurer of its Foundation. He is a member of the TAA Council of Fellows and was awarded the TAA Mike Keedy award in 1997 and the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. In addition, he represents TAA on the Authors Coalition of America.


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#7.Algebra 1 (Prentice Hall Mathematics)


Clearly written. Most of the definitions are clear; some need just a phrase or two to complete for understanding the concepts. For families or tutors (as I am) a copy at home, this text will be useful, not just for Algebra 1, but through elementary school as concepts are introduced and through high school math courses for review of definitions of vocabulary which teachers assume students know.


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#6.McDougal Littell Algebra 1 (McDougal Littell Mathematics)


Don't listen to what the other people are saying. I got first-hand experience on this book. I must say that this is probably the best and most easy to understand math book i have ever used. The answer key in the back allows the user to assure that their answers are correct. If you are considering buying this book, i must say YES, DEFINITELY BUY THIS BOOK, IT WILL BE WORTH YOUR WHILE!!!!


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#5.Algebra for College Students (8th Edition)


Marge Lial was always interested in math; it was her favorite subject in the first grade! Marge's intense desire to educate both her students and herself has inspired the writing of numerous best-selling textbooks. Marge, who received Bachelor's and Master's degrees from California State University at Sacramento, is affiliated with American River College. Marge is an avid reader and traveler. Her travel experiences often find their way into her books as applications, exercise sets, and feature sets. She is particularly interested in archeology. Trips to various digs and ruin sites have produced some fascinating problems for her textbooks involving such topics as the building of Mayan pyramids and the acoustics of ancient ball courts in the Yucatan.


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#4.Algebra 1 Common Core Student Edition, Grade 8-9


This is a good textbook that coincides with the Common Core curriculum. It has good explanations and examples, but the answer key is lacking. I bought this to keep at home so I can help my 8th grader but I would like it better if all the questions had answers because I feel like I am learning Algebra all over again and I want to make sure I am helping him in the right way. The book has cartoon characters throughout that make it fun and it does a good job with the example problems.


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#3.Algebra Survival Guide: A Conversational Guide for the Thoroughly Befuddled


Josh Rappaport is the author of the Parents' Choice award-winning Algebra Survival Guide, the Algebra Survival Guide Workbook, and PreAlgebra Blastoff. Josh is the co-author with Trudy Bortz of the Card Game Roundup books. Josh has taught middle school and high school, and for the last 24 years has been president of the Now I Get It! Learning Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he teaches and tutors children of all ages. Josh and his wife Kathy also do SAT and ACT coaching by Skype for students across North America.


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#2.Algebra: Structure and Method, Book 1


This is a well thought out Algebra textbook. I started teaching from it earlier this year and have grown to appreciate it very much. I am especially pleased the more I compare this to other books. Most math books these days are little more than pretty colors, crazy fonts, neat pictures, lots of distractions, and very little actual math instruction. This book, on the other hand, actually focuses on the math, explains it reasonably well, and has great sets of real example problems and practice problems of all difficulty levels, including lots of practical problems that aren't forced or contrived. It is not perfect, but it is the best I have seen.


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#1.Algebra and Trigonometry 4th Ed


This book is extremely practical, It has so many real world applications. There are a ton of questions after each section and checkpoints in the subchapters. The review and test after each chapter really help.

It provides so many useful tips and notes to help you jump over common pitfalls.


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