We all know the classics—Sandra Boynton’s lovable board book and Dr. Seuss’s wacky easy reader have been prominent for decades. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is another perennial favorite, and its bold illustrations and snappy rhymes are as fun as ever. And the long-running Fancy Nancy series has a whole book dedicated to “fancy” words.
But these familiar titles are just a few of the many, many alphabet books available. Westlake Library’s catalog yields 558 results when you search “alphabet.” I went through many of them. Here are the highlights!
Some times the alphabet is merely the vehicle for visual extravagance. In these books, you can tell the creators were having a fantastic time bringing the letters to life in unique ways.
By far the largest category of alphabet books, themed ABCs give the author a chance to explore a specific topic and choose relevant vocabulary. From flowers to construction tools, if your little reader has a special interest, there’s probably an alphabet book for it!
Though it’s not for children, I must mention Edward Gorey’s Gashlycrumb Tinies. Twenty-six children gruesomely perish in the macabre little rhyme, so it’s not for the faint of heart. Yet Gorey’s signature style has an undeniable charm.
Most of our books are in English, but there are many fun alphabet books that make a great introduction to other cultures.
You can only see so many apples and X-rays before you start wishing for a bit of variety. There is a robust collection of topsy-turvy ABCs that subvert the original intention of the genre. These books won’t help early learners, but they’re lots of fun for more advanced readers.
These ABCs tell a story. Some have a full-blown plot, some personify the letters, and some are more open to speculation as a loosely related collection of alphabetical words and images. Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers is a favorite of mine, as is E-Mergency by Tom Lichtenheld and Ezra Fields-Meyer (available through SearchOhio). Both books are marvelously illustrated and full of fun little details.
This is just a small sample of the alphabet books in our collection. If you’re looking for more, all the books have an “ABC” sticker on the spine. See how many you can spot the next time you’re browsing. An abecedarian adventure awaits!