Tag: alphabet

As summer reading draws to a close (tomorrow!) and school gets ready to gear up again, I’ve been starting some booklists around certain themes and types of books that are heavily requested. I’m hoping to print them up and keep them on the desk for patrons to take. Neil Gaiman’s The Dangerous Alphabet inspired me to start with alphabet books, the best and the worst of what I’ve read for little abecedarians.

The Good
Girls A to Z by Eve Bunting (2002). A great book with a message that girls can do anything. Each letter features a girl whose name starts with that letter taking on an activity that also starts with that letter (Ula is an umpire). A lot of fun, and the simple illustrations reinforce the alphabet and the interesting things the girls are doing.

What Do Animals Do On the Weekend?: Adventures From A to Z by Lauren Falkenberry (2002). Another charming one. Woven around the story of what animals like to do on the weekends, each page features great alliteration for each letter, interesting illustrations of the animals, and facts at the bottom of the page on the animals and their activities.

A Gull’s Story by Frank Finale (2002). The alphabet lesson is fun in this wraparound story about a family of gulls living on the Jersey Shore. As the parent gulls spend the day flying around, they teach the little gull about their history, shore history, and the things they see using the alphabet. Words starting with the letter are in bold face. Very neat.

What Pete Ate From A to Z by Maira Kalman (2001). This is a very funny story about a dog who eats everything. Every page focuses on a letter of the alphabet with some great alliteration about what Pete ate. Kids will like the silliness.

AlphaOops!: The Day Z Went First by Alethea Kontis (2006). This is a very funny and charming book with big, bright illustrations. Z gets fed up with always being last, so he decides that today they will switch up the order of the alphabet. Things get really out of hand when all the letters decide to go in a different place in the alphabet. Kids will like this silly story.

Into the A, B, Sea: An Ocean Alphabet Book by Deborah Lee Rose (2000). This is a great story of sea life, with lots of interesting creatures for each letter of the alphabet and great paper collage illustrations.

Dr. Seuss’s ABC by Dr. Seuss (1963). This is classis Seuss, a great easy reader featuring a silly verse and equally silly illustration for every letter of the alphabet.

Picture a Letter by Brad Sneed (2002). This is a very clever wordless alphabet book, I like this one a lot. Black and white background drawings provide great contrast for the letters, drawn in color. Each letter is incorporated into a picture, and the pictures represent a word that starts with that letter. So for example, an acrobat spells an “A”, a burglar wears a mask that looks like a “B.”

The Alphabet from Z to A (With Much Confusion on the Way) by Judith Viorst (1994). A clever rhyming book highlighting all the exceptions to every rule of spelling in the English language (why doesn’t “excellent” start with an “x”?). Starting with Z and working backwards, every illustration features lots of individual things that start with each letter. Great for teaching kids about unusual word spellings.

The Not-So-Good
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Here we have The Dangerous Alphabet, a twisted picture book offering from Neil Gaiman (illustrated by Gris Grimly). It’s an interesting alphabet book with an actual story. Two kids set off on an underground adventure in what looks like a bathtub. Along the way they meet scary things, hideous creatures, a seedy underworld that they must navigate. They are dressed like Gothic English schoolchildren, so no doubt this adventure is more sinister (and filthy) then they are used to. But they make it through to the other side, and along the way is a clever and dark book for kids. It doesn’t feel cloying or contrived like a lot of alphabet books. A great Halloween offering for younger kids or something to introduce older elementary kids to Neil Gaiman.

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