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Alphabet Book Selection Depends On Your Purpose For The Book.
How to choose an alphabet book is based on answers to specific
questions. Basically, you are answering the question, “Why do you
want to read this book to your child…and…what do you want to
accomplish by reading it?                     
Alphabet books fill many shelves in local libraries. Have you ever
looked through your local library’s collection?
There are alphabet books for every interest, attitude, and purpose. 
They appeal to our senses: Seeing, hearing, and touching. They
capture a child’s imagination. 
They come in an extraordinary variety of shape, size, color,
illustration, topic, and word. They reflect the author’s point of
view on the world.
Topics for alphabet books seem to cover the full range of human
experience. Name a topic – history, country, industry, job or career,
science, nature, social awareness, family, animal – and you’ll find an
alphabet book reflecting that interest.
Authors and illustrators use original art, in every form imaginable,
or photography to support the intent of the text. The most noteworthy,
in each year, are given awards from a multitude of perspectives.
Alphabet books may be intended for skill development…others for
pleasure. Some are silly. Some are serious. Some play on words,
word sounds, and rhymes. All have an appreciative audience.
            Why Are Most Alphabet Books Written?
Most alphabet books are meant to introduce a young child to that basic first step in learning to read: Learning the alphabet. Because they are books to read aloud to children, they develop skill in, and prepare children for the two principal ways in which the school curriculum is taught: Seeing and hearing.
Enormous added benefit from reading alphabet books to your child is found in the questions and the talk that you provide. If your questions are on point, you’ll get your child to learn how to express her thoughts and feelings about the books read to her.
With all the alphabet books available – there are over 500 titles in our local library – how do you select which books you will read to your preschooler and kindergarten child? As you might expect, not every alphabet book’s content and illustrations are suitable or of interest to your child.
Questions To Guide Your Alphabet Book Selection.
To gain confidence in the selection of alphabet books to use with your children, you need to know what it is you wish to accomplish. Are you working toward a skill you want to develop?
If so, you want to match the skill goal in a book that has the greatest amount of interest for your child. So…you would ask yourself the following questions:
            What do I want to accomplish?

            What are my child’s beliefs, interests,

            and attitudes?

There may be times when your personal tastes and interests will be secondary to those of your child. What’s the goal? Which is more important? Your child’s interests may lead to early reading.
Every child is different in attitude, in interest, and in ability. Each child learns in his own way…and at his own rate. You have to adapt to that.
Approaches which succeed with one child may be completely wrong, or useless, with another. You need to be aware of…and understand…your child’s feelings. You need to be aware of your child’s skills.
Books that concentrate on your child’s interests serve a very useful purpose. They develop readiness skills for learning to read in content that captures her attention.


The selection of appropriate alphabet books need not be a complex matter. You simply need to know what to look for.
Trial and error is accidental…in contrast to design. You may or may not reach your goal if you are selecting alphabet books whimsically.
Knowing what to look for reduces the error factor.
The answers to these questions will enhance your alphabet book selection skills. Please note that the answers to all questions are not necessary to select wisely.
                        They are simply a guide.
Answers will vary with the purpose you have in mind. They will also vary depending on the alphabet books on the shelf at the time you are in the library.
Are there any alphabet books available on those topics? (If not, search out recommended titles for the librarian to consider in the next purchase order.)
Are there books that relate to your child’s experiences?
What is your purpose? Is the alphabet book one to read for pleasure? Is it for skill development? If so, what skill do you have in mind?
What is the central idea or theme of the alphabet book?
Is the topic completely new? Your purpose might be to broaden your child’s interests.

Is this the type of book that holds a fascination for your child?

Is it the type of book that he will go back to time and again?

Is she likely to be reluctant to return it to the library?

Are there helpful suggestions for use…somewhere in the book? What do the notes and the foreword tell you?
Is the objective of the book clear to you?
            Why was it written?
            Who is the intended audience?
            Is there a message to be understood?
What appeal does the book hold for you, the parent?


What are some features of the book to consider?

Is it attractive?  Is the text well-spaced and easy to read?  Is the color palette appealing?  Is it simply cute…with no apparent value?  Are the pictures current or outdated?  Does it matter?  Do the illustrations promote stereotyping?  Are the illustrations multi-ethnic?  Is the vocabulary appropriate and understandable to your child?  Is the language natural, reflecting the way we speak?  Is it a language pattern book where your child can anticipate the word to be used?Does the book contain humor…a play on words?  Is the book captivating in some way?

What's the motivation for your child to want to have the book read to him?


Is the book filled with facts…or interesting, in some way?


Would it be fun to read aloud?


Is the text interesting or appealing so your child wants to read it…or even memorize it after a few readings?


Does each page flow logically?


Would the content involve your child and make her think?


Are there objects in the illustration that begin with the letter of the page? Are they immediately obvious to your child?


Are the illustrations purely decorative? Do they serve a useful purpose?


Is there a note of anticipation to an event or conclusion?

Who is in control of alphabet book selection?
There will be times when you want to broaden your child’s interests or knowledge base. That could be a point of power struggle between you and your child.
Should that become a reality…here is a useful strategy:
At the library, let your child sit with a favorite book while you select “next week’s” titles. When you’ve made your selection, place the pile in front of her and ask her to do a quick sort into YES and No piles.
If the sort is superficial, that is, it’s based on the cover, encourage your child to reconsider the books in the NO pile by looking at several pages of each book. Tell him he must select ONE book from the NO pile. Which one will it be?
Make a note of those she rejects. Encourage her to tell you why she rejected the others.
This strategy allows your child to have SOME…but not ALL…control over which books will be read during the week. The life lesson in this is that we are all faced with having to do something we don’t particularly like.
Here is a list of the second half of alphabet book titles in our local library. Read through them to determine the depth and breadth of the literary genre called Alphabet Books.





H Is For Horse:  An Equestrian Alphabet by Michael Ulmer. Chelsea,MI:  Sleeping Bear Press, 2004.
Halloween A B C by Eve Merriam.  New York: Macmillan; Toronto:  Collier Macmillan, 1987.
The Handmade Alphabet by Laura Rankin. New York: Dial Books,1991.
Hands-On Alphabet Book  Toronto:  Canadian National Institute for the Blind, 1987.
Happy Alphabet!  A Phonics Reader by Anna Jane Hays.New York: Random House, 2002.
Hats Can Help:  The Sound Of H by Alice K. Flanagan.Chanhassen, MN: Child's World, 2000.
Helen Oxenbury's ABC of Things by Helen Oxenbury.  New York: Delacorte, 1971.
A Helpful Alphabet of Friendly Objects by John Updike.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995.
The Hidden Alphabet by Laura Vaccaro Seeger.Brookfield, CN:  Roaring Brook Press, 2003.
The Hole By The Apple Tree: An A-Z Discovery Tale by NancyPolette. New York: Greenwillow, 1992.
Hot Pot:  The Sound of Short O by Alice K. Flanagan.  Chanhassen, MN:   Child's World, 2000.
The Hullabaloo ABC by Beverly Cleary. New York:  Morrow Junior Books, 1998.
Humbug Potion:  An A-B-Cipher by Lorna Balian.  Nashville:  Abingdon Press, 1984.
I Is For Idea:  An Inventions Alphabet by Marcia Schonberg.  Chelsea, MI:  Sleeping Bear Press, 2005.
I Like Bugs:  The Sound Of B by Alice K. Flanagan. Chanhassen, MN: Child's World, 2000.
I Spy:  An Alphabet In Art by Lucy Micklethwait. New York: Greenwillow Books, 1992.
Ian Penney's ABC by Ian Penney. New York: H.N. Abrams, 1998.
Into The A, B, Sea:  An Ocean Alphabet by Deborah Rose Lee.  New York: Scholastic Press, 2000.
A Is For Asia by Cynthia Chin-Lee. New York: Orchard Books, 1997.
A Is For Amos by Deborah Chandra. New York: Farrar Strauss Giroux, 1999.
It Begins With An A by Stephanie Calmenson. New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1993.
The Jazzy Alphabet by Sherry Shahan. New York:  Philomel Books, 2002.
Joseph Wants To Read by Fabienne Teyssedre. New York:  Dutton Children's Books, 2001.
Journey Around New York From A To Z  by Martha Day Zschock. Beverly, MA:  Commonwealth Editions, 2002.
The Joy Of Signing: The Illustrated Guide For Mastering Sign Language And The Manual Alphabet by Lottie Riekehof. Springfield, MO: Gospel Pub., 1987.
The Jungle ABC by Michael Roberts. New York: Callaway Hyperion, 1998.
Just So Stories:  For Little Children by Rudyard Kipling.
New York:  Weathervane, 1978.
K Is For Kitten by Nikia Speliakos Clark Leopold.  New York:  Putnam's, 2002.
K Is For Kissing A Cool Kangaroo by Giles Andreae.  New York:  Orchard Books, 2003.
K Is For Kick:  A Soccer Alphabet by Brad Herzog.  Chelsea, MI:  Sleeping Bear Press, 2003.
Kids' Songs To Sing And Sing Along.  Rock Me Baby Records, 2003.
Kids:  The Sound Of K by Alice K. Flanagan.  Chanhassen, MN:  Child's World, 2000.
Kindergarten ABC by Jacqueline Rogers. New York:  Scholastic, 2002.
Kindergarten Hits by Wendy Wiseman. Montreal:  Kidzup, 2001.
Kindergarten Songs by Wendy Wiseman. Montreal:  Kidzup, 2004.
Kipper's A To Z  by Mick Inkpen. London:  Children’s Books, 2000.
Language & Numbers Playtime.   San Jose, CA: Brightening Minds, Inc., 2004.
Language Visible:  Unraveling The Mystery Of The Alphabet From A To Z by David Sacks.  Toronto:  A.A. Knopf Canada, 2003.
Leap Into Poetry:  More ABC's Of Poetry by Avis Harley.  Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press, 2001.
Left:  The Sound Of L by Alice K. Flanagan.  Chanhassen, MN: Child's World, 2000.
Letter Adventure Learn The ABCs With The Pocket Snails.  Laguna Niguel, CA:   Soaring Star Productions, 2003.
Letters And Sounds by Rosemary Wells.  New York:  Viking, 2001.
Letters & Numbers.  Yucaipa, CA:   Help Me 2 Learn Co., 2002.
A Little Alphabet by Trina Schart Hyman.  Boston:  Little, Brown, 1980.
Little Bit:  The Sound Of Short I by Peg Ballard.  Chanhassen, MN: Child's World, 2000.
The Living Rain Forest:  An Animal Alphabet by Paul Kratter.  Watertown, MA:  Charlesbridge, 2004.
Look Once, Look Twice by Janet Perry Marshall.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields Books for Young Readers, 1995.
M Is For Music by Kathleen Krull. Orlando, FL:  Harcourt, 2003.
Maisy's ABC by Lucy Cousins. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press,1995.
Malls:  The Sound Of M by Cynthia Fitterer Klingel.  Chanhassen, MN:  Child's World, 2000.
Martha Blah Blah by Susan Meddaugh. Boston: Houghton Mifflin1996.
Martha Habla by Susan Meddaugh. New York, NY:  Lectorum, 1997.
Martha Speaks by Susan Meddaugh. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1992.
Michael Rosen's ABC by Michael Rosen. Brookfield, CT:  Millbrook Press, 1996.
Midnight In The Cemetery:  A Spooky Search-And-Find Alphabet Book by Cheryl Harness. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1999.
Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready For Kindergarten by Joseph Slate. New York: Dutton Children's Books, 1996.
Miss Bindergarten Has A Wild Day In Kindergarten by Joseph Slate. New York: Dutton Children's Books, 2005.
Miss Bindergarten Plans A Circus With Kindergarten by Joseph Slate. New York: Dutton Children's, 2002.
Miss Bindergarten Stays Home From Kindergarten by Joseph Slate. New York: Dutton Children's Books, 2000.
A Mountain Alphabet by Margriet Ruurs. Toronto: Tundra Books, 1996.
Mouse Letters:  A Very First Alphabet Book by Jim Arnosky.  New York: Clarion Books, 1999.
Mousekin's ABC by Edna Miller.  New York:  Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1972.
Mrs. McTats And Her Houseful Of Cats by Alyssa Capucilli. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2001.
Museum ABC  Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 2002.
Musical Instruments From A To Z by Bobbie Kalman.  New York:  Crabtree Pub., 1998.
My ABCs by Don L. Curry. Mankato, NY: Capstone Curriculum, 2000.
My Beastie Book Of ABC:  Rhymes And Woodcuts by David Frampton. New York:  HarperCollins, 2002.
My First ABC by Debbie MacKinnon. Hauppauge, NY:  Barron's, 1992.
Naps:  The Sound Of N by Cynthia Fitterer Klingel.  Chanhassen, MN:  Child's World, 2000.
Naughty Little Monkeys by Jim Aylesworth. New York:   Dutton Children's Books, 2003.
The New Alphabet Of Animals by Christopher Wormell.  Philadelphia, PA:  Running Press, 2002.
A Northern Alphabet by Ted Harrison. Montreal: Tundra Books, 1982.
Not Enough Beds!  A Christmas Alphabet Book by Lisa Bullard.  Minneapolis MN:  Carolrhoda Books, 1999.
O Is For Orca: A Pacific Northwest Alphabet Book by Art Wolfe.  Seattle:  Sasquatch Books, 1995.
Ogres! Ogres! Ogres! : A Feasting Frenzy From A To Z by Nicholas Heller.  New York:  Greenwillow Books, 1999.
Old Black Fly by Jim Aylesworth.  New York:  H. Holt, 1992.
On My Boat:  The Sound Of Long O by Robert B. Noyed.  Chanhassen, MN:  Child's World, 2000.
On Market Street by Arnold Lobel. New York: Greenwillow Books, 1981.
On Your Toes:  A Ballet ABC by Rachel Isadora.  New York:  Greenwillow Books, c2003.
P Is For Passport:  A World Alphabet by Devin Scillian.  Chelsea, MI:  Sleeping Bear Press, 2003.
A Pacific Alphabet by Margriet Ruurs. Vancouver, BC:  Whitecap Books, 2001.
A Peaceable Kingdom:  The Shaker Abecedarius.
New York:  Viking, 1978. 
Peek-A-Little Boo by Sheree Fitch. Victoria, BC:  Orca Book Publishers, 2005.
Penguins A-B-C by Kevin Schafer.  Chanhassen, MI:  NorthWord Press, 2002.
A Pet:  The Sound of  P by Alice K. Flanagan. Chanhassen, MN:  Child’s World, 2000.
Peter Rabbit's ABC And 123:  With New Reproductions From The Original Illustrations by Beatrix Potter.  London:  F. Warne, 1995.
Pigs From A to Z by Arthur Geisert.  Boston:  Houghton Mifflin, 1986.
A Pioneer ABC by Mary Alice Downie.  Toronto:  Tundra Books, 2005.
Play Day:  The Sound of Long A by Alice K. Flanagan.  Chanhassen, MN:  Child’s World, 2000.
Play Mas'!  A Carnival ABC by Dirk McLean.  Toronto:  Tundra Books, 2000.
A Prairie Alphabet by Jo Bannatyne-Cugnet.  Montreal:  Tundra Books, 1992.
Q Is For Duck:  An Alphabet Guessing Game by Mary Elting.  New York:  Clarion Books, 2005.
Quack!  The Sound of Q by Cyntia Fitterer Klingel. Chanhassen, MN: Child’s World, 2000.
The Queen's Progress:  An Elizabethan Alphabet by Celeste Davidson Mannis.  New York:  Viking, 2003.
Quentin Blake's ABC by Quentin Blake.  London:  Red Fox, 2002.
Quilt Alphabet by Lesa Cline-Ransome.  New York:  Holiday House, 2001.
The Racecar Alphabet by Brian Floca.  New York:  Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2003.
Richard Scarry's Best ABC Video Ever by Richard Scarry.  New York:  Random House Home Video, 1989.
Richard Scarry's ABC Word Book by Richard Scarry.  New York:  Random House Book, 1971.
Richard Scarry's Find Your ABC's by Richard Scarry.  New York:  Random House, 1973.
Rusty Red:  The Sound Of R by Cynthia Fitterer Klingel.  Chanhassen, MN:  Child's World, 2000.
The Sailor's Alphabet by Michael McCurdy.  Boston:  Houghton Mifflin, 1998.
Sam:  The Sound Of S by Alice K. Flanagan.  Chanhassen, MN:  Child's World, 2000.
A Seaside Alphabet by Donna Grassby.  Toronto:  Tundra Books, 2000.
Sesame Street Sign Language ABC with Linda Bove . 
New York:  Random House/Children's Television Workshop, 1985.
Sharkabet:  A Sea Of Sharks From A To Z by Ray Troll.  Portland, OR:  WestWinds Press in association with the American Museum of Natural History, 2003.
Shoes:  The Sound Of SH by Peg Ballard.  Chanhassen, MN:  Child's World, 2000.
Sing-A-Long Songs from Fun Family Fair.  White Rock, BC:  Fun Family Phonics, [199-]
Sleepy ABC by Margaret Wise Brown. New York:  HarperCollins, 1994.

Smiles:  The Sound of "Long I" by Robert Noyed.  Chanhassen, MN: Child's World, Inc., 2000.

Spring:  An Alphabet Acrostic by Steven Schnur.  New York:  Clarion Books, 1999.

Summer:  An Alphabet Acrostic by Steven Schnur.  New York:  Clarion Books, 2001.
Swinging The ABC's by Gail Issenman. St. Laurent, PQ: Green Door Music, 2003.
Tails, Claws, Fangs & Paws:  An Alphabeast Caper by Terry Small.  New York:  Bantam Books, 1990.
Talk To Me About The Alphabet by Christopher Raschka.  New York:  Henry Holt, 2003.
Task Time:  The Sound of T by Cynthia Fitterer Klingel.  Chanhassen, MN:  Child’s World, 2000.
Teddy Bears Abc by Susanna Gretz.  New York:  Four Winds Press, 1986.
There's A Monster In The Alphabet by James Rumford.  Boston:  Houghton Mifflin, 2002.
This And That:  The Sound of "Th" by Peg Ballard.  Chanhassen, MN:  Child’s World, 2000.
Toddler Songs.  Nashville, TN:  Word Entertainment, 2003.
Tomorrow's Alphabet by George Shannon.  New York:  Greenwillow Books, 1996.
Toot & Puddle:  Puddle's ABC by Holly Hobbie.  Boston, MA:  Little, Brown, 2000.
Trunks All Aboard:  An Elephant ABC by Barbara Nichol.  Toronto:  Tundra Books, 2001.
The Turn-Around Upside-Down Alphabet Book by Lisa Campbell Ernst.  New York:  Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2004.
Turtle Island Alphabet:  A Lexicon of Native American Symbols And Culture by Gerald Hausman.  New York:  St. Martin’s Press, 1992.
Turtle Island Alphabet by Gerald Hausman.  Santa Fe, NM:  Sunset Productions, 1992.
The Twelve Days of Kindergarten:  A Counting Book by Deborah Lee Rose.  New York:  Harry N. Abrams, 2003.
The Unicorn Alphabet by Marianna Mayer.  New York:  Dial Books, 1989.
V For Vanishing:  An Alphabet Of Endangered Animals by Patricia Mullins.  New York:  HarperCollins, 1994.
Vets: The Sound Of V by Peg Ballard.  Chanhassen, MN:  Child’s World, 2000.
A Victorian Floral Alphabet:  In Cross Stitch, Canvaswork, And Crewel Embroidery by Sue Hawkins.  Newton Abbot, Devon:  David & Charles, 1997.
The Wacky Wedding:  A Book Of Alphabet Antics by Pamela Duncan Edwards.  New York:  Hyperion Books for Children, 1999.
A Was An Angler by Janina Domanska.  New York:  Greenwillow Books, 1991.
Weather ABC: An Alphabet Book by B.A. Hoena.  Capstone 2005
Wee Sing & Learn ABC by Pamela Conn.  New York:  PSS! 2000.
What And Where: The Sound of WH by Robert B. Noyed.  Chanhassen, MN:  Child's World, 2000.
What A Week:  The Sound of Long E by Cynthia Fitterer Klingel.  Chanhassen, MN:  Child's World, 2000.
What Is A Community?  From A To Z by Bobbie Kalman.   New York:  Crabtree Pub., 2000.
What Pete Ate from A-Z:  Where We Explore The English Alphabet (In Its Entirety) In Which A Certain Dog Devours A Myriad Of Items Which He Should Not by Maira Kalman.  New York:  Putnam’s, 2001.
Wildflower ABC by Diana Pomeroy.  San Diego, CA:  Harcourt Brace, 1997.
Wildflower ABC:  An Alphabet of Potato Prints by Diana Pomeroy.  San Diego:  Voyager, 2001.
The Wildlife ABC & 123:  A Nature Alphabet & Counting Book by Jan Thornhill.  Toronto:  Maple Tree Press, 2004.
Winter:  An Alphabet Acrostic by Steven Schnur.  New York:  Clarion Books, 2002.
Wish And Win:  The Sound of W by Alice K. Flanagan. Chanhassen, MN: Child’s World, 2000.
Word Play ABC by Heather Cahoon. New York: Walker, 1999.
Yum! The Sound of Y by Alice K. Flanagan.  Chanhassen, MN:  Child’s World, 2000.
Z Goes Home by Jon Agee.  New York:  Hyperion Books for Children, 2003.
Z Is For Zamboni:  A Hockey Alphabet by Matt Napier.  Chelsea, MI:  Sleeping Bear Press, 2002.
Zigzag: The Sound of Z by Alice K. Flanagan.  Chanhassen, MN:  Child’s World, 2000.


Zooflakes ABC by Will C. Howell.  New York:  Walker & Company,2002.


To learn with delight is to remember ... never to forget!