Tired of the same old ABC books?

March 5, 2013 | Scott

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I love discovering lost or hidden gems in my branch’s huge picture book collection. I’ve since started building piles of books for thematic displays, books for storytime I haven’t used before and books that haven’t circulated but deserve another kick at the can to get them in the hands of an enthusiastic reader.

A Call For a New AlphabetI happened to find a picture book in the ‘C’ area of the collection that was hidden because of its smaller size: A Call for a New Alphabet by Jef Czekaj. Czekaj is a fantastic picture book author who wrote and illustrated Oink-A-Doodle-Moo (a storytime favourite) and Cat Secrets. Written in comic book format, A Call for a New Alphabet is about the letter X who is unhappy with this role in the alphabet and decides to rally the letters to create a new order for the alphabet. It’s a silly story with lots of laughs that teaches kids about the alphabet but also grammar, spelling and general language usage. It’s a unique take on your typical ABC book. 

After reading this unconventional take on the ABC book, I went searching through the collection to see what other related gems I could find. Below are 4 ABC picture books that definitely deserve more attention for their interesting way of teaching all about the alphabet. 

Backseat A-B-SeeBackseat A-B-See by Maria van Lieshout
After learning that her young son loved reading road signs, Van Lieshout wrote a book that associates each letter of the alphabet with a road sign. The solid black backgrounds on each page with white road lines make each road sign pop with bold colour. Some of the signs are specifically American but there are lots of relevant ones for Canadian kids, too. 

An Annoying ABCAn Annoying ABC written by Barbara Bottner & illustrated by Michael Emberley
This book opens in a classroom setting where chaos quickly ensures – it’s not the ABC’s that are annoying but the children are to each other. The letters of the alphabet are introduced through the names of the children as they bicker and fight, but the book thankfully ends with a group apology. A great book for sneaking in lessons about respect for and getting along with others while learning the alphabet. 

Caveman: A B.C. StoryCaveman:  A B.C. Story by Janee Trasler
This book features bold, colourful artwork and introduces children to the alphabet through the eyes of a caveman. Even with only one word per page, children will easily follow this action-packed story as the caveman encounters a dinosaur, a bear, a squirrel and more, all of which he befriends by the time the reader reaches the letter Z. Simple, silly and tons of boy appeal. 

ABC ZooBorns!ABC ZooBorns! written by Andrew Bleiman & photographs by Chris Eastland
It’s almost impossible to resist falling in love with the sight of baby animals and this ABC book features twenty-six of the cutest I’ve ever seen. Stunning full-colour photographs are coupled with simple text that kids will easily reference to their own lives. This book is great for younger readers just learning the alphabet but also for older readers who want to discover more information about the featured animals.