I am pitching a fit. So far I have raised my voice, stomped
my feet, and thrown a pencil. A more sensitive child might be alarmed, but the
strapping six-foot athlete beside me looks more bemused than upset. [Note: This fit was entirely for effect. A
more sensitive child would never have seen it.] And what has brought on this
display of temper? Yet another high
school geometry student has mis-defined a rectangle as having “two long sides
and two short sides.”

I have spent countless hours trying to beat that notion out
of the heads of my high school students and replace it with the correct
definition: A rectangle is a quadrilateral with four right ANGLES. It’s all
about the angles. The lengths of the sides are immaterial. In fact the sides
could all be of equal length. That’s right. Just as a cardinal is a particular
type of bird, a square is a particular type of rectangle.

Recently I have decided that it might be better to focus my
attention on the other end of the problem: picture books. Ideally, students would never learn the
incorrect definition in the first place, and it seems that if picture books got
it right, that would be a step in the right direction.

My experience so far with picture book publishers is that as
long as the book is popular, they don’t care if it contains errors. Therefore
we need to hit this on two fronts: First, make sure that the publishers get
enough complaint letters that they begin to wonder whether or not a correct
book would be more popular, and second reduce the popularity of incorrect books
by giving them bad reviews.

Below, you will find three books that should be permanently
out of print along with contact information for the publisher. The book name itself is a link to the Amazon
page for that book in case you wish to write a negative review. In addition,
pass this information on to other parents, make letter-writing an assignment
for your geometry class, and alert the media! Leave a comment if you get a response. Let’s see if we can get this
straightened out once and for all.

Twizzlers Math: From Simple Shapes to Geometry - published by Scholastic - to send them an email

Quote to reference, page 15: "A rectangle is a shape that has four right angles and four sides. Opposite sides are parallel and have the same length. The perpendicular sides are a different length."

Circus Shapes - published by Harper Collins - to send them an email

Quote to reference, pages 24, 25: "The bears form a rectangle. - two sides short and two sides long."

When a Line Bends...A Shape Begins - published by Houghton Mifflin - to send them an email

Quote to reference: "A rectangle is like a square with something rearranged. Two sides are long and two are short. The four sides now are changed." In addition, this book goes on to say that if you rotate a square 45 degrees it becomes a "diamond."

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