# How Much Math Is Really Learned Playing Cool Math Games The Art of Reading Backwards: The Magic of Palindromes

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## The Art of Reading Backwards: The Magic of Palindromes

Have you ever tried reading words backwards? I tried it once when I was a kid. My name was Illek. My cat’s name was backwards Niffum and my favorite food was etalocohc. I kept saying words that no one else understood. It was like speaking my own language.

But then I came across some very surprising words that stayed the same when I read them backwards. “Dad” stayed Dad and “Mom” stayed Mom, and even my friend Hannah stayed the same! I didn’t know it then, but I had discovered the wonderful world of palindromes.

What is a palindrome?

Palindromes stay the same when you read them forwards or backwards. They can be words:

eye

pop

They can be phrases or sentences:

never even or even

don’t nod

Was that a cat I saw?

Do geese see God?

They can be numbers:

505

62326

12:21 p.m

And some palindromes are even the same as down, back, upside down, and upside down:

108801

SOS

NOON

Palindrome Magic Trick

Here’s a trick you can do to turn almost any number into a palindrome. First, think of a number and write it down:

3241

Then write this number backwards and add the two together:

3241

+ 1423

4664

In some cases, it doesn’t work the first time. When this happens, keep reversing and adding numbers until you get your palindrome:

4972

+ 2794

7766

+6677

14443

+34441

48884

Are you a palindrome?

Warning: Palindromes can be addictive! Some people start looking for them everywhere and can go a little crazy looking for palindromes.

You may be at risk of being a palindromaniac if:

• You have friends named Ana, Eve, Izzi, Otto or Bob.

• Your favorite times of the day are 10:01, 11:11, 5:55, etc.

• You enjoy kayaking and have always wanted to drive a race car.

• Your favorite car is a Toyota.

Find more

Get your palindrome fix with these books and resources:

For small children: Mom and Dad are palindromesby Mark Shulman and Adam McCauley, or If you were a palindrome, by Michael Dahl. Both fun picture books are a great introduction for kids to the world of palindromes.

For older and older children: Jon Agee is the king of palindrome books like Go hang some salami, I’m a lasagna pigi palindromania. Cartoon drawings are combined with strange subtitles for good fun.

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