Alphabet Book Reviews

Below you will find an exhaustive list of reviews that expand on our 50 Fantastic Alphabet Books .  Books are listed alphabetically by author.

Z Goes Home by Jon Agee follows the letter Z from the time he leaps down from the sign at the zoo until he makes his way home. Along his travels he encounters all the other letters. Some of the words the letters represent may be challenging for preschoolers, but the illustrations are clear and your child won’t have too hard a time finding the letter in the picture.

ABCDinosaurs   Get kids excited about their alphabet using their love of dinosaurs with the ABCDinsosaurs board book from the American Museum of Natural History. This large format board book shares 26 dinosaur species, one for each letter of the alphabet. The dinosaurs are illustrated with a large colourful letter of the alphabet and the name appears below (first letter emphasized). Your little paleontologist might even discover a few dinosaurs they’ve never heard of before.

A Gardener’s Alphabet by Mary Azarian is a fresh and so richly illustrated alphabet book you may end up framing the beautiful pages because they are worthy of being up on a wall!  I think the main benefit of this book is that the words chosen for each letter are not the same old ones you see over and over in alphabet books. The words used are things like Japanese Garden for J, Lawn Ornaments for L ,and my favorite was Underground for U complete with cool illustrations of worms, root vegetables and roots !

Alphabetter by Dan Bar-el and Graham Ross is another great alphabet book for you to check out. Each letter is represented by a child who has something that starts with the same letter as their name but doesn’t have what they want which starts with the following letter. It’s such a cute gimmick and so effective while reading that it’s not a gimmick at all! At the end of the book all the children pass the items back down the alphabet and everyone gets what they want. Awesome book for toddlers on up !

Animalia by Graeme Base is iconic in teaching circles, you can lose yourself for hours in the detailed illustrations. The book is an alphabet book on steroids! Each page had a wonderful paragraph in each letter such as “Lazy Lions lounging in the local library.” for the letter L.  The pages are filled to the gills with pictures of things that start with that letter as well. Parents and kids alike will fall in love.

ABC of Canada by Kim Bellefontaine is a cute little book that is a perfect little introduction about Canada for toddlers and preschoolers. The text is short, the colors are bright and the illustrations are both fun and accurate. I was happy to see things like the Northern Lights, Calgary Stampede and of course Z is for Zamboni . Even if you have never been to Canada it’s never too early to learn about your neighbour to the north.

Alligator Alphabet by Stella Blackstone and Stephanie Bauer. I was so excited to find this book because just this week my son started pointing out lowercase letters in text. This book is a beautifully illustrated with each letter represented on its own page. Pretty standard right? Wrong. Although the text below the illustration had both upper and lowercase letters, the main illustration is only the lowercase letter. This is perfect for children who are just starting to learn their lowercase letters.

Dogabet by Dianna Bonder is a fun playful alphabet book, perfect for animal lovers. We love dogs in our house so this was a sure fire hit, but even if you can’t tell a foxhound from a poodle you will like the busy pages and cute alliterative text. Each page is devoted to one letter and a corresponding breed of dog,  our favorites were the Otter hounds with their oboes and the purple Pugs. Also at the back of the book there is a guide to hidden images on each page that all begin with the proper letter, as well as a cat and bone. My son loved this book and playing “detective” with it.

 

Sleepy ABC by Margaret Wise Brown . Although I have a legendary hatred of Runaway Bunny I generally love this author. I like this book, and the illustrations will zip you back in time for sure.  Unlike many alphabet books it has a great rhythm for reading it all without breaks. Like the title suggests it’s a good alphabet book for a bedtime read, it even ends with something I say often “Go To Sleep!”.

Quilt Alphabet by Lesa Cline- Ransome is a really pretty alphabet book that makes me think of autumn afternoons, my husband’s Grandma Lois ( she quilts) and crave caramel apples even though it’s not a strictly autumn book. Every page is devoted to a letter and the short poem that accompanies it never tells readers exactly what the letter represents, instead readers must figure it out. It’s not too hard though because the stunning illustrations in bright warm colors wonderfully give it away for every letter. My kids both liked it although my son was hoping that S would be for Superman explaining that he grew up on a farm in Kansas.

D is for Dancing Dragon: A China Alphabet by Carol Crane is a in valuable book when teaching about China and Chinese New Year. It is more than a simple alphabet book, going into detail about lanterns, chopsticks, panda bears and so much more. What I love about these books is that younger children can be shown the pictures and given an easy to digest synopsis of the text, while older children can read the whole book. The illustrations by Zong-Zhou Wang will make the most reluctant traveler want to get on a plane to China, they are simply spectacular!

Learn the Alphabet with NorthWest Coast Native Art by Ryan Cranmer (and others) was an amazing gas station find. Yes I said gas station. I ran in for some Diet Coke and came out with an alphabet book ! This book is amazing, bright, beautiful and even though I bought it for my daughter since its bright colors and sturdy pages are perfect for a baby, my almost 4 year old son adores it. What I love is when he reads it to her . The native art is gorgeous and if you are unfamiliar with North West coast art you are in for a treat.

A Was an Apple Pie by Eitienne Deslessert takes the classic nursery rhyme and adds odd dinosaurish aardvarky creatures to it. I personally thought the creatures were odd to the point of distraction but my son gobbled up this book and loved the creatures . Yet another reason I don’t just read the books themselves , just because I think something is odd doesn’t mean kids will. I really like the text because of how it uses both all the upper and lowercase letters of the alphabet easily. Also because it’s such an old rhyme there are words we don’t often see in children’s contemporary literature and offers some new additions to your child’s vocabulary too.

Firefighters A to Z by Chris L. Demarest is an alphabet book that teaches about fire safety and the danger firefighters face every time the alarm sounds. My son is fascinated with firefighters right now, he loves to dress up as one at preschool and we often take the long way home to swing past the station and see if the engines are in. He loves this book but I don’t think your child needs to have the level of obsession mine does to enjoy it.

The Cowboy ABC by Chris L.  Demarest is a great book for any cowboy enthusiast. From Buckaroo to Tumbleweed, Guitar to Lasso this book takes readers through some common and some not so common cowboys terms and accessories. I liked it because it’s not your everyday alphabet book, with the same words used for letters over and over.

Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert is an alphabet book extraordinaire and perfect for a letter F since it’s all about food!  Wonderful paintings of fruits and vegetables seem ultra simple and it is but somehow the way the author has pieced this simple book together is brilliant. Maybe it’s that children learn about food at the table multiple times a day and feel proud being able to identify not only some of the letters but some of the pictures too! From a teaching standpoint I love that there are both upper and lower case letters on each page. This book will grow with your child, and beware it will also make you hungry.

Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming is a wonderful example of what an alphabet book should be. Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers learning their first letters, the text is short , the letters are front and center and the illustrations are fun and interesting. My son loves this book, I grabbed it at the library after remembering how much my Pre-K class loved it too.Many alphabet books are too long to read entirety at circle time or in one shot with a toddler . This is the exception to that rule. My son will sit through this book every time we read it. {This review is from when my son was 19 months old in 2008. His love of this book was really a jumping off point for his love of letters in general. I wish I could say I taught him his letters but really reading this one particular book over and over at his request probably did the trick. }

Astonishing Animal ABC by Charles Fuge . If you like Dr Seuss’ ABC book, then you’ll enjoy this. Each page calls out the letter and then offers an animal type starting with the same letter. I love the use of alliteration, giving descriptions of the animals using the same letter the animals starts with: C, cozy cobra curled up in a comfy chair. These descriptive words not only provides other examples of words starting with that letter it also stretch the reader’s vocabulary by providing other words beyond the basics to help describe something (adjectives and adverbs galore). Unlike Dr. Seuss, all the animals in this story are real, except for Z (but I’ll leave that to you to discover). A fun read for kids to help reinforce the letters of the alphabet as well as letter sounds (repeating words that make the same sound).

The ABC  Bunny by Wanda Gag was first published in 1933 and is delicious! Readers follow along with a little bunny all the way from a to z ! The rhyming text is bouncy and my son was fully engaged. I thought the black and white pictures may throw him off but he loved them and didn’t seem to notice that there was no color, they were beautifully done and that was all that mattered. I love the language used like the words dash, gale and jaunty. Good books are good books no matter when they were written, and readers will always love them, I loved this book.

Alphabet Soup by Scott Gustafson is a treat! I read a lot of alphabet books and this one stands out for so many reasons. Otter is hosting a potluck and his animal friends are all bringing something to share. Each page is devoted to an animal with a coordinating food item and more. This book is reminiscent of Graham Base’s Animalia but much more toddler friendly. Where Animalia is great for older children because it’s so full of detail, this book brings it down a notch but still enchants you with stunning illustrations and fantastic coordinating text.

O Is for Orca: An Alphabet Book by Andrea Helman is a book about the nature of the North West packaged in an alphabet book.  Each page is dedicated to one large photo and a animal, plant or other part of North West nature.  My son was reluctant at first wanting to read a Star Wars chapter book but only a page or two in he was asking not to skip any of the text and we were discussing the information about the sea animals. Many of the letters represent sea animals like sea stars, urchins and of course orcas. There are a lot of facts in this book and if I were reading it to my toddler I’d skip the paragraphs and go through the alphabet and each photo only. That is what I love about books like this you can adapt them so easily to your audience.

T is for Touchdown: A Football Alphabet by Brad Herzog is a beautiful book that will delight even those of us who are never happy to see football season start. I admit even being an anti fan this book was fun and really full of information that a football scrooge like myself can appreciate.

ABC USA by Martin Jarrie is another beautiful alphabet book!  Like most alphabet books it devotes a page to each letter with vibrant illustrations . Not everything in this book is by any means unique to the United States but many are. I specifically appreciated the I for Immigrants page, both from a historical and personal perspective, my son loved the J for Jazz and we both loved all the whimsical illustrations. There are a lot of learning opportunities for all ages. The subjects that really stood out for me for further learning were U for Underground Railroad and V for Valley Forge.

Alphabet City by Stephen Johnson is a fascinating take on an alphabet book. The alphabet is found in different places in the city, like a fire escape, and the rose window of a church. Children love trying to find the letters and adults will too! The most amazing part of this book is that the pictures are actually illustrations, they look crisp and clear like photographs but aren’t. Awesome , amazing and definitely worth checking out.

What Pete Ate from A to Z by Marie Kalman had my Pre-K class in stitches begging for more. It really is a funny book about a dog and his alphabetical list of things he’s eaten. I like it because it’s funny and simple and the alliterative text isn’t forced. The sarcastic bits will keep parents giggling too!

“A” Was Once An Apple Pie by Edward Lear and Suse MacDonald is an adaptation of the classic Edward Lear poem that had both my children transfixed. The bold bright colors kept my daughter who is 10 months old wide eyed the whole time and the playful way Suse MacDonald adapted the text had my son listening from A-Z as well. It was incredibly fun to read allowed tongue tying me at times which resulted in us all giggling hysterically in a heap. A book that can do that is a must have in my opinion.

The Alphabet Tree is a stunning book. The book is all about letters that come together to make words and then after a caterpillar informs them that they need to say something they join together to make sentences. Up to this point the book is a brilliant teaching tool , but for me the best part is yet to come. When the words get together they decide to say ” Peace on earth goodwill toward all men” and then the caterpillar asks them to jump on his back so he can take the words to the President . Considering it was written in 1968 it’s quite the statement. A fantastic activity to do with your child after reading this would be to ask them what they would write to the President ? For younger children using letters on leaves you could spell out easy three letter words like they do early on in the story. All in all a brilliant book.

Chicka Chicka ABC by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault  is a fantastic board book and shorter version of the longer book. My son loves this book and it’s the perfect amount of text for a toddler, the illustrations by Lois Ehlert are so bright and bold that even very young babies will respond to it! A must have for all bookshelves.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: Anniversary Edition by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault is one of my absolute favorite books ever. Many alphabet books are great tools but this one not only entertains it never gets old. Its text is musical , its premise is brilliant in its simplicity and kids love it. My favorite line is ” Skit skat scoodle doot. Flip flop flee. ” I hope I am conveying how much fun this book is to read out loud. I have never had a class who didn’t like it and if you don’t have it, you should!

The Alphabet from A to Y With Bonus Letter Z! by Steve Martin was introduced to me by Rebecca when she sent it in for this post . When I saw it at the library I grabbed it and so glad I did. It’s a fun book with silly rhymes for each letter and I was surprised that my son sat all the way through it. It’s a pretty long alphabet book for a toddler. I liked the details in the illustrations even if the sometimes gross humor was not my favorite, but kids will love it .

Baby’s Alphabet by Jean Marzollo will appeal to your baby and toddler, we were given it as a gift and my son has loved it since about nine months on. The photographs of other babies will keep your little one interested and you will be surprised how soon they will anticipate the next page, I know I was. Sadly our copy is now flying the friendly skies , we took it on a flight with us and forgot it on the plane. Hopefully someone with a baby finds it.

All Aboard!: A Traveling Alphabet by Bill Mayer was more fun for my husband and I than for my son but that’s not a bad thing. It’s a book of pictures, with hidden letters in them. For example the letter O is overpass with loops of road and hidden in it is an O. Some letters were easy to find some were hilariously hard. We read this to my son tonight at bedtime and while we stared at the letter H ( highway) picture debating where the h was, he fell asleep between us in his bed. This is a great alphabet book for families with children just learning and those who have mastered the alphabet. Oh and the debate was settled , we were both wrong. The final page highlights the letter in each picture in a compilation of the whole alphabet.

Flora McDonnell’s ABC by Flora McDonnell is a great board book for babies through the toddler years. It couldn’t be a simpler book but the vivid illustrations and the very deliberate limited number of objects per page is perfect for our youngest readers. Each page has two items for each letter and that was the perfect amount to point out with my daughter who is 20 months. It kept her attention but didn’t overwhelm her.

Bruno Munari’s ABC by Bruno Munari will make you wish you had an extra copy to  pull out the pages and frame them. It’s  1960 retro gold. The book is simple enough, each page is devoted to a letter like most alphabet books, and on those pages are objects that start with the letter. There are cheeky bits of dry humor throughout as a fly shows up on pages after F and my son liked the S page with a sack of stars and snow for Santa. All in all a little different but not ground breaking.  However the way it is graphically designed perfectly captures the retro cool that simply can’t be recreated with a new book. My son liked it but wasn’t nearly as into it as I was.

Museum ABC by the Metropolitan Museum Of Art is a book that was first loved at our house because of the “C is for Cat” page , an early interest of my sons. I loved it because for each letter there are 4 usually very cropped pieces of paintings, showing only that part that fits the subject of each letter. In my nerdy love of identifying paintings I play a game with myself trying to figure out which are which as my son is identifying the letter, and finding the subject matter in each. The book is so beautiful, it’s hard to do it justice in a simple review. A wonderful concept and a great intro to art books for even the tiniest patrons.

Alphabeep!: A Zipping, Zooming ABC by Debora Pearson is a great book for older toddlers and preschoolers. The transportation themed book uses rhymes and colorful illustrations to go from A to Z. The text was a bit long for my young toddler but I shortened it and he was able to enjoy the book , children 2 and up will love it just the way it is! This is on my must buy list.

The Graphic Alphabet by David Pelletier is a fun book to share with a child who has already mastered the alphabet, because this book is challenging. Each letter is shown in its own illustration, but you aren’t sure exactly what the picture is of, this is the challenge. As you can see on the cover it has an avalanche, the hardest one for me was N no matter how I looked at the picture I thought it was of magnets! Turns out it was noodles! Very fun book for kids that already know their letters and are up for a challenge.

The Human Alphabet by Pilobolus. This book is fascinating. Each page is a a different photograph of dancers making the shape of both the letter and something that starts with the letter. The letter is always obvious ( and in order which helps…) but the picture isn’t and I love that.  It forced my son and I to work together to think of words that started with each letter to figure the tricky ones out .

The Ocean Alphabet Book   by Jerry Pallotta is a good book, not a page turner but it is filled with fun facts about sea creatures. The book is geared towards older children but because it has letters prominently displayed on each page and great illustrations your toddler will enjoy it too. The text really is too long to read from A-Z for a circle time or a toddler but it was very easy for me to simply read each letter and label the ocean animal for my son who then sat through the whole alphabet. If your child is into all things that swim this is a good book to foster that love and learn a little about letters at the same time.

Al Pha’s Bet by Amy Krouse Rosenthal is a rare find. An alphabet book that can keep a five year old who says alphabet books are for babies, completely engaged. The story follows Al who has bet himself that he can win a contest ordered by the King figure out an order for the brand new 26 letters that were just invented. In a string of adorable events and a little chance the alphabet as we know it is put together. My son thought it was hysterical that P was put in the line up after Al went pee. It’s a cute idea for a book and abstract enough to be a bit of a challenge for preschoolers but just the right level of interest for kids that think they know it all when it comes to the alphabet.

D Is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet  by Nancy I. Sanders is the type of book that will fit your family for many years as it can be read and multiple levels. This book will teach children of many ages about African American history, the letters are really just a great organizational tool. I love this structure of book . If you have younger children you can simply go page by page,  letter by letter identifying the illustrations. Older children can read the poem on each page or even the in depth text explaining each illustration. This book would be a perfect tool for a great history lesson connecting political and social history with contemporary issues the African American community still faces today.

Autumn: An Alphabet Acrostic by Steven Schnur is a lovely book that is also a wonderful introduction into this form of poetry for young children. Each page has a poem about the season, from Acorns, to Owls to Pumpkins. Each letter of the words are a jumping off point for a sentence in the poem. The beauty of this book is that it reads well traditionally as well as individual poems which really makes it two books in one.

A is for America by Devin Scillian is a perfect mix of national pride and real facts. As a Canadian I always feel strange critiquing works like this, I don’t want to sound too critical and that won’t be the case with this wonderful book. There are plenty of fantastic reasons to celebrate America and this book lays them on the table from A to Z !

A Is for Zebra by Mark Shulman is a fun and unique alphabet book. Perfect for children who have mastered letter recognition and are up for a fun challenge. The trick is that each letter is represented by the last letter of the coordinating picture . A is for zebra ! You will have fun finding the letter on each page as well as items in the adorable illustrations by Tamara Petrosino.

The Sleepy Little Alphabet: A Bedtime Story from Alphabet Town by Judy Sierra is a great alphabet book. I couldn’t help myself, I read it to my son to the tune of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom . It is clearly its own book though. The alphabet is getting ready for bed and just like your little ones, these lowercase letters are pulling out all their tricks and antics to avoid bedtime. Well almost all of them, z is more than happy to go to bed!  It’s a sweet book that your kids can relate to and I like that it focuses on lowercase letters.

Patty’s Pumpkin Patch  by Teri Sloat is a great alphabet book and story in one. Readers follow a pumpkin patch from planting the seeds until after Halloween when they gather the seeds for the next planting.  I really like how this book combines an alphabet book with both upper and lowercase letters corresponding to some animal or insect in the story . I also like the easy rhythm of the rhyming text and the engaging and detailed illustrations . All in all I think this is a great fall book.

A Is for Astronaut: Exploring Space from A to Z by Traci N. Todd is a typical themed alphabet book that is atypically funky. The vintage illustrations and historical photos from NASA makes this book stand out from other similar books. Each letter represents a number of space related items and the historical photos are so powerful in this because it bridges the gap from being a story to being information that children are eager to dive into further. There is something so powerful about a photograph to make that connection that this really happened, these guys really walked on the moon in “the olden days” as my son calls any time before his birth in 2006.

M Is For Maple: A Canadian Alphabet  by Mike Ulmer. This book will make you feel proud to be from Canada if you are Canadian and teach you something about your neighbour if you aren’t . It will also teach your children things about the country they live in and why we feel pride when we hear names like Terry Fox, Anne with an E and Gretzky! I love this book and have since I first read it during teachers college in Thunder Bay, if you can be happy about being in Canada during a very cold Thunder Bay winter you can be happy about it anywhere.

ABeCedarios: Mexican Folk Art ABCs in English and Spanish by Cynthia Weill and K.B.Basseches , wood sculptures by Moises and Armando Jimenez.  This is a simple but amazing book.  The text is simply labels in both English and Spanish for the bright and wonderful photographs of the matching sculptures. I loved that for X the sculpture is of a mythical animal and the book asks the reader to make up a name beginning with X, very clever!

Alphabestiary: Animal Poems from A to Z by Jane Yolen is a great alphabet book for children who know their letters and need something a little extra. It’s a book of animal poems starting with Anteater and ending with Zebra. What I really like about this book is that you can use it in so many ways depending on your child’s knowledge of animals and the alphabet. You can have them choose a letter and read all the poems for it, choose an animal or even choose by flipping through and finding illustrations you like. This isn’t a book you read from cover to cover, it’s an anthology with poems selected by Jane Yolen. The poems are fun and it’s a great way to transfer learning about letters into learning about poetry.