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Friday, May 4, 2012

Mind Your P's and Q's

There are hundreds, even thousands, of alphabet books available for young kids.  Though they each share a similar goal (introducing the ABC's and their various sounds), these books encompass almost any -- and every -- theme you can imagine.  Do you like animals?  How about vehicles?  Insects?  Geography?  Chances are, you can find an alphabet book on any subject that interests you or your child.  Here are some of our family's favorite ABC books:

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, written by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault, and illustrated by Lois Ehlert, 1989... This lively, rhythmic book features letters as characters -- the young lowercase alphabet and their parents, the uppercase ABC's.  All 26 of the youngsters decide to climb a tree, but end up in a heap beneath it, and the parents rush to their rescue.

I remember reading this first when my daughter Emmalie was young and then again when my son Nick was learning to read.  I hadn't thought of it in years, but then my son Ben's Kindergarten teacher read it to his class, and he came home reciting it.  On a recent trip to the library, Ben spotted the book and said, "Oh, Mom... we HAVE to check this one out!  I love it!"  He and I especially like the nonsensical words in the story and the bright, bold artwork.

LMNO Peas, written and illustrated by Keith Baker, 2010...  Cute little anthropomorphic peas grace each page of this clever book, showing off interests, careers, etc. for each letter of the alphabet.  Combined with rhyming text, these peas make learning the alphabet lots of fun!

I picked this one off the library shelf a few months ago, for the title alone. :)  It turned out to be a delightful book that Ben and I looked at over and over again.  The illustrations are full of tiny details -- we noticed something new every time we flipped through it.

A is for Angry: An Animal and Adjective Alphabet, written and illustrated by Sandra Boynton, 1987...  This silly ABC book has been a family favorite ever since Emmalie received it as a gift from her uncle when she was two.  I mentioned it a few months ago, here.

Dr. Seuss's ABC, written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss, 1963...  The alphabet, as only Dr. Seuss could present it: "BIG F, little F, what begins with F?  Four fluffy feathers on a Fiffer-feffer-feff." With its rhyming text, Seussian words, and drawings of fantastical creatures, this classic ABC book is a great addition to any young child's library.

We own both the board book (condensed) version shown below, and also the full-size book; both have been well-loved over the years.  All three of my kids asked to hear it so many times when they were little, they memorized the rhymes inside long before they learned to read on their own.

Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables from A to Z, written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert, 1989... This book introduces preschoolers to fruits and vegetables from around the world, with their names printed in both upper- and lowercase letters.  At the back of the book, Ehlert provides a glossary of the foods that includes pronunciations, the origins of the plants, and more.

This is another one that we discovered when Emm was little. We all enjoyed Ehlert's vibrant, mouth-watering illustrations. Emmalie also loved learning the names of all the foods, poring over the pages again and again.  After that, whenever we visited the grocery store, she would point out all the produce that she recognized.  "Look, Mommy!  There's a pomegranate!  And an ugli fruit!  And a leek!"  My boys have been the same way after reading this.

Apple Pie ABC, written and illustrated by Alison Murray, 2010... In this book, each letter of the alphabet stands for a short, simple phrase.  Strung together, these 26 phrases tell the story of a dog, pining for a piece of pie.

Ben and I found this ABC book at the library recently -- we were charmed by the amusing illustrations of the dog and its antics.

An Annoying ABC, written by Barbara Bottner and illustrated by Michael Emberley, 2011...  All 25 of Miss Mabel's preschool students are cranky.  When Adelaide annoys Bailey, Bailey blames Clyde, Clyde cries... and soon the entire classroom is in an uproar.  But when Adelaide finally apologizes, it turns out that kindness can be contagious, too.

I think the illustrations are our favorite part of this book -- Ben and I love the characters' facial expressions and all the little details Emberley provides.  We also get a kick out of the names and verbs Bottner uses for each letter.

Antler, Bear, Canoe: A Northwoods Alphabet Year, written and illustrated by Betsy Bowen, 1991...  Bowen celebrates the magic of the Minnesota woods throughout the seasons, from the antlers of a moose to winter's zero degree weather.

My aunt sent this book to Emmalie for her first birthday, knowing how much our family loves to camp in northern Minnesota.  Though it's really written for older children (maybe those in Kindergarten and above), she and my boys loved looking at the rich woodcut illustrations even as toddlers.  Now that all three kids have actually spent time in the northwoods, they appreciate this book even more.
Since receiving this book 15 years ago, we've somehow lost
the dust jacket.  The hard cover is just a plain blue, so I
took a photo of the title page instead.

A Call for a New Alphabet, written and illustrated by Jef Czekaj, 2011... This clever book for school-age children features X and the other citizens of Alphabet City.  X is exasperated.  Always near the end of the alphabet and only found at the beginning of a few words, X thinks it's time to change things up a bit.  The other letters agree to vote on whether or not to make a new alphabet.  The night before the vote, X dreams about taking the place of other letters, and begins to realize just how complicated things could get.

Who knew learning spelling rules could be so entertaining?  This book is laugh out loud funny and educational at the same time.  It's quickly become a favorite at our house, and we've checked it out from the library several times now because Ben wants to read it over and over again!

Do you have any favorite alphabet books?  I'd love to hear about them!

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