Pi Day, How Pi tells stories, Navigating Early

How Pi Tells Stories: Happy Pi Day!

Happy Pi Day! To celebrate, we are going to explore the idea of Pi and story telling. Can the infinite sequence of the number Pi tell a story? Am I nuts to even think this?


noun: the sixteenth letter of the Greek alphabet ( Ππ ), transliterated as ‘p.’

symbol: the numerical value of pi.

pi =3.14159265359…

Newbery award winner Clare Vanderpool’s Navigating Early tells a story with Pi. And Vi Hart has a take on Pi and Shakespeare. So It Can Be Done! Let’s explore the stories that Pi tells.

Clare Vanderpool and PragmaticMom in Needham MA

Chapter Book Where Pi Tells a Story

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

Early circled the number one. “This is Pi. And the rest of the numbers are his story. The story of Pi begins with a family. Three is his mother. She is beautiful and kind and she carried him in her heart always. Four is his father. He is strong and good. And here” — Early pointed to the number one in the middle — “this is Pi. His mother named him Polaris, but she said he would have to earn his name.”

from page 31 of Navigating Early


“See, it’s right here that he gets in his boat. These numbers, see how they look wavy, like the ocean?”

… 3285345768

“No, they don’t look wavy. They’re just numbers. And you’re making up a story to go along with them. I get it. It’s pretty creative.”

Early balled up his fists again. “They’re not just numbers. And I’m not making up a story. The story is in the numbers. Look at them! The numbers have colors — blues of the ocean and sky, green grass, a bright-yellow sun. The numbers have texture and landscape — mountains and waves and sand and sand and storms. And words — about Pi and about his journey. The numbers tell a story. And you don’t deserve to hear it.”

from page 66 of Navigating Early

Clare Vanderpool explains how she got the story idea for Navigating Early from a dream her mother had and the plot of her award winning chapter book.


Vi Hart on Pi Its Relationship to Shakespeare

Victoria Hart, commonly known as Vi Hart, is a self-described “Recreational Mathemusician” who is most known for her mathematical videos on YouTube. Here’s her take on Pi and Shakespeare along with Seven Sonnets that she wrote to explain her premise.

Vi Hart mathematician mathimusician

Are Shakespeare’s plays encoded within Pi?

The truth is: we don’t know, but we suspect

They’re somewhere in those digits. And now I

Will show why we don’t know if we’re correct.


You see, we think the digits do behave

As if they were a random sequence, and

So many mathematicians tried to brave

This question, but we still don’t understand.


Pi isn’t random: each digit must be

Exactly what the definition states.

It’s pseudo-random, far as we can see,

But it’s the subject of intense debates.


Now I’ll explain, with this parameter:

It’s all in iambic pentameter.


You may have heard of this scenario:

A thousand monkeys type at keyboards ’till

They write the works of Shakespeare.

Even though, In one life it’s a task they can’t fulfill.


If you allow their kids to carry on,

All through the generations working hard,

They will evolve before they come upon

A single sonnet written by the Bard.

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Pi Day, How Pi tells stories, Navigating Early

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. This is a very interesting post. Pi Day was a problem for me when the entire school was mandated to celebrate. My co-teacher and I always had to wrack our heads trying to come up with something appropriate for kindergarten.

  2. I like that Pi Day. And, I loved Navigating Early — reviewed it last year. I didn’t see the interview with Clare Vanderpool. It was a beautiful but complex novel. Her books will classics — she is so gifted as a writer. And I enjoyed the video about the encoding of Pi in Shakespear’s plays.
    Patricia Tilton recently posted…The Black Book of ColorsMy Profile

    • Hi Patricia,
      Thanks so much! Clare Vanderpool is so gifted and such a nice person. I feel so lucky that she did a tour near me so I was able to meet her! She was doing a tour with Jerry Spinelli and I took my middle child, PickyKidPix, who loves to meet authors too. It’s “our thing” we do together. She loved it!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…How Pi Tells Stories: Happy Pi Day!My Profile

  3. Happy Pi Day! Vi Hart is brilliant – I love her videos. And I enjoyed reading “Navigating Early” after reading about it on your blog!
    maryanne recently posted…Raising Kids Who Love MathMy Profile

  4. I’ve never heard of Pi Day until this year, but this is an awesome way to celebrate. I’m gonna have to grab some new books and make sure that my son isn’t as naive as me!
    April recently posted…Countdown in Style {15} with Co-Hosts @HBSoulStains and @greeneyecarissaMy Profile

  5. I’ll have to check out Navigating Early. As a lover of Math, I’m shocked I hadn’t heard of it before.

  6. Brittnei

    Pi Day always reminds me of Geometry class when we had to try to see how could remember the most numbers after the 14 🙂 Very interesting to think of putting it into a story format. I had never heard about it with Shakespeare before. Thanks so much for sharing these thoughts with us at Countdown in Style!
    Brittnei recently posted…Shop Hopeful Kiss and Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics ReviewMy Profile

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