• Kelsey Paff

An Abundance of Alphabet Books: 19 Picks

Let me preface this post by saying that while a selection of nineteen alphabet books may seem overwhelming, especially for parents who are probably only looking for one or two good alphabet books, I hope the variety I've provided will help you find ones that are most suited to your family.

1. ABC by Xavier Deneux

A rather large book for a board book, ABC is nevertheless at the top of my list. One of many books in the TouchThinkLearn series, I love how each letter is raised on the page. The simplicity of the illustrations as well as the generous size of each letter makes this book one that children will thoroughly enjoy.

2. All the Awake Animals Are Almost Asleep by Crescent Dragonwagon

Now, for those of you who follow my blog, you'll recognize this title from an earlier post, but I had to include it in the list since it's such a lovely book. One of the things I particularly like about it is that it doesn't follow the typical "a is for apple, b is for balloon" format. Instead, the book focuses on the sounds of each letter. For example, "Antelope is Already Asleep, all the way to his Antlers. Or for E, "Each Evening, Elephant Eases her Elegant Ears and Edges into sleep."

Beautifully illustrated by David McPhail, All the Awake Animals is without a doubt one of my favorite board books.

3. My First Book of Letters by Alain Gree

I had to include My First Book of Letters since I'm always raving about books by Alain Gree. With bright illustrations and friendly faces from previous Alain Gree books, it's a book that makes learning the letters secondary to enjoying reading itself.

4. A is for Andy: ABC's with Andy Warhol

If you're going to read an alphabet book, why not add some Andy Warhol to the mix? From jewelry to kites, to numbers to shoes, children will get a glimpse of the famous 20th century artist's pop art style.

5. ABC by Jane Foster

With one solitary illustration on every page children will easily be able to focus on ABC.

While the vocabulary chosen for each letter -- C is for Cat, D is for Dinosaur, E is for Egg, F is for Fish -- is a bit predictable, Jane Foster's illustrations have a unique flare to them as she incorporates a variety of patterns and bold colors into her artwork. I especially like the front cover illustration. It reminds me of Broadway's the Lion King.

6. A Swim through the Sea by Kristin Joy Pratt-Serafini

Ready for some tongue-twisting? A Swim Through the Sea will get you going! Similar to All the Awake Animals, A Swim through the Sea uses letter-specific words to give children a rich vocabulary. As Seamore the seahorse swims through the sea he meets "A bunch of bright blue crabs...a crazy-colored clownfish and discovers a dozen diving dolphins..." What will he meet next?

With lovely watercolor illustrations, A Swim Through the Sea captures the beauty of an underwater world for children to enjoy and explore. And with summer on the horizon, A Swim Through the Sea is the perfect beach companion.

7. The Alphabet Book by P. D. Eastman

P. D. Eastman telling it how it is: "Bird on bike. Cow in car. Dog with drum. Elephant on eggs. Fox with fish" etc.. I always think of this book as being a go-to for laughs. The "Umpire under an umbrella" is a particular favorite.

8. The Very Hungry Caterpillar's ABC

Ants, a blue bird, the famous caterpillar, a dog, an eagle, a frog...The Very Hungry Caterpillar's ABC gives readers yet another opportunity to appreciate and enjoy Eric Carle's masterful artwork.

9. Angelina Ballerina's ABC

For the Angelina Ballerina lovers, Angelina Ballerina's ABC gives the reader snippets from each Angelina Ballerina story. From Angelina at dance class to Angelina skating with her friend Henry, the book is full of familiar characters and images. The back of the book also includes tips on how to talk to your child about the alphabet.

10. The Pout-Pout Fish Undersea Alphabet by Deborah Diesen

Everybody's favorite Pout-Pout Fish is back for some ABC's! I actually really like this book. The pictures are nice and big for children to fully see and absorb and there are some fun vocabulary words in this one like Isopod, Krill, Lantern Fish, and Narwhal. The touch-and-feel component of the book also adds to the book's attractiveness. But watch out for the rubbery/sticky octopus tentacles!

11. Alpha Block by Christopher Franceschelli

I am a big fan of Alpha Block. In a unique layout, each page is cut-out in the form of the letter being presented. What a wonderful way to really show the letters to children. If you're going to pick a must-have alphabet book for your toddler, this is it.

12. The Icky Bug by Jerry Pallotta

Some of you may be familiar with my review of Butterfly Colors -- a book also by Jerry Pallotta. While I liked it very much, I find The Icky Bug a bit clumsy in its wording. The fact that the book gives you a sentence or two about the types of bugs you're looking at is definitely helpful, but again, some of the wording just does not flow in a way that makes it easy to read. For example:

A is for Ant. Ants are hard workers. Ants are able to carry things that are larger and heavier than they are. They always seem to be trying to build something.

I might be too picky, but if it weren't for the close-up, detailed illustrations, and bug variety, The Icky Bug may not have made my list.

13. My First ABC by the Metropolitan Museum of Art

My First ABC by the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a work of art in and of itself. With beautiful excerpts of paintings, the book not only invites children to look closely at each image, but to see people and objects represented in a real-life way.

A wonderful introduction to art, culture, and the alphabet.

14. Winnie-the-Pooh's ABC

I couldn't possibly have a list of alphabet books without including Winnie-the-Pooh's ABC. With "decorations" by Ernest H. Shepard, all of our favorite characters and illustrations are here. E is for Eeyore, F is for Forest, G is for Gate, H is for Honey, etc..

And when you're finished reading and rereading, don't be surprised if your toddler wants to listen to the original Winnie-the-Pooh stories.

15. An Alphabet in Silhouette by Natalie Jarvis

An Alphabet in Silhouette is a really wonderful book and reminds me of It Looked Like Spilt Milk. While An Alphabet Silhouette seems more suited to children 3 and older (due to the elaborate hand shapes), I think younger children would still enjoy looking at the images or watching an adult make the shapes.

16. ABC: A Child's First Alphabet Book by Alison Jay

The world of Alison Jay always reminds me of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. With bright illustrations and doll/puppet-like figures, there's something fantastical about the land of ABC: A Child's First Alphabet Book. With clues on every page to encourage children to guess what's coming next, the book is more than a book of letters, it's a book of discovery.

17. Alphabet by Matthew Van Fleet

I like to call this the busy alphabet book. From pull-the-tabs, to lift-the-flaps, to an alphabet poster in the back as well as a list of all the safari animals seen in the book, you and your little one will be busy, busy. I especially like the giant giraffe.

18. C is for Castle by Greg Paprocki

I only recently came across Greg Paprocki's alphabet series. Such a fun little collection of time period themed alphabet books. In C is for Castle -- a very vintage-looking book -- you'll find a dragon, a guard, a hermit, a jester, a king, a queen, a squire, and many more medieval-themed characters. Be prepared for Z though. Do you know what a Zink is? Thanks to Google, it's an alternate name for a cornett.

19. G is for Goat by Patricia Polacco

Lastly, Patricia Polacco's G is for Goat. With beautifully drawn illustrations and witty rhymes, G is for Goat stands in a category of excellence that reminds me of Jan Brett and Tomie dePaol.

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