Would you believe that an internet search for ‘alphabet books’ will yield over 150 million results? Among the millions, there are some that delight readers of all ages. Going well beyond basic letter and sound recognition, these books entertain both young and old with puzzles to solve, word play, or cool elements of surprise.
We’ve collected together seven of our favourite alphabet books that spark the imagination, get everyone thinking, and can act as a fabulous springboard to further learning about letter, sounds and words!
Awesome Alphabet Books
1. Q is for Duck: An Alphabet Guessing Game: This highly interactive alphabet book turned guessing game is a classic. The alphabet is presented in order, beginning with the letter A, but each letter stands for something beginning with another letter. For example, “A is for Zoo. Why?” The reader has a chance to guess before turning the page. “A is for Zoo because animals live in a zoo.” It doesn’t take long for children to understand the pattern and engage in the game.
The format of the book can be used as a guessing game to be played anywhere at any time. While waiting in line at the supermarket, for example, you can say, “P is for HAM. Why?” (because ham is pork and comes from pigs). Use it to teach synonyms: “E is for HAPPY. Why? (because another word for “happy” is “ecstatic.”) Use your own imagination to turn almost any type of learning into a guessing game!
2. Alpha Oops!: The Day Z Went First: This delightful book presents each letter with a unique personality, beginning with the letter Z, who is weary of always being last. So, Z gets to go first, and in a few pages that follow, the letters are presented in reverse order. Soon, however, P protests that he still ends up in the middle, and H insists she is happy right where she is. The conversation among the letters can spark discussions about problem-solving, listening to others, and fairness. Perhaps the greatest value in this book, however, is that your child will begin to think about the alphabet differently, understanding that letters are units that stand alone, and aren’t always strung together in order.
3. Animalicious: A Quirky ABC Book: Hot off the presses, this book will delight readers of all ages as they are introduced to creatures such as “Anonymouse,” portrayed as a mouse wearing glasses and hiding behind a newspaper, and “Elegant,” an ant donning a top hat and cane. Each imaginary animal is a kind of word puzzle, providing opportunities for vocabulary and language development. Many children will also enjoy the challenge of coming up with their own new animalicious creatures! Research shows that word play stimulates certain areas of the brain and is an excellent way to learn new vocabulary!
4. Tomorrow’s Alphabet: This book, with its novel approach, is easily turned into a guessing game, one that can be continued long after the words of each page are memorized. Each letter presents an item, with hints at what it will become in the future. So, “A is for SEED,” (turn the page) “… tomorrow’s APPLE.” “K is for tomato…tomorrow’s KETCHUP.” Your child not only has to identify and comprehend the format, but also think about what things become as they grow, mature, or are used to make new things. As you go about your day, you can present your child with other combinations such as “O is for ACORN… tomorrow’s OAK TREE.” As children mature, they might also have fun trying to write “Yesterday’s Alphabet,” which requires a different kind of thinking!
5. A, My Name is Alice: This book can set in motion a great party game, adaptable for many ages. Alice, featured on the first page, is an ape, married to Alex, an anteater. They come from Alaska and sell ants. And so it goes. Pairs of animals introduce themselves, where they’re from, and what they sell, all with fantastic illustrations and each featuring a letter of the alphabet.
After reading the book, turn it into a game by making up your own names and attributes. Keep it simple for younger ones, but for older children, add an additional challenge: players must repeat what each previous player has said before adding to it. The first player, for example, might say, “A my name is Andy. I’m an aardvark, and I like to eat apples.” The next player repeats this, “A, his name is Andy, he’s an aardvark, and he likes to eat apples,” and then adds her own, “B, my name is Brenda, I’m a baboon, and I like to eat bananas.” Play continues until someone gets stuck. Older children can practice geography by adding where they’re from. Improve memory and concentration while having fun!
6. P is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever: Let’s get real―the English language is bizarre. A might be for apple, but it’s also for aisle and aeons. Why does the word “gnat” start with a G but the word “knot” doesn’t start with an N? This whimsical, informative book turns the traditional idea of an alphabet book on its head, poking fun at the most mischievous words in the English language and demonstrating how to pronounce them. Perfect for word nerds of all ages!
7. The Weighty Word Book: For older kids, ages 9 and up, this book uses stories to introduce and reinforce the meanings of some truly advanced vocabulary words such as dogmatic, felicity, and winsome. It does so in a highly engaging way, and the play on words that ends each story helps to make the meanings stick. If you’re looking for a fun way to share some “weighty words” with the family, even adults will enjoy and learn from this one!
Looking for even more engaging alphabet learning fun? Be sure to check out our Eating the Alphabet post!