Five Books That Teach the ABCs

If you are reading this, you've probably got a pretty solid grasp on your ABCs. But there's a younger demographic that needs to be initiated into the joys of the 26 letters. For that, we have the wonderfully named abecedarium. Here are the five that my family liked best:

Dr. Seuss's ABC. "BIG A little a What begins with A?" The perfectly cadenced poem from the children's book master. Oh, and "Aunt Annie's alligator........A..a..A"

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault. Illustrated by Lois Ehlert. "A told B, and B told C, 'I'll meet you at the top of the coconut tree.'" Will the tree be able to hold all 26 letters? Of course not. Absolutely original and instantly memorizable.

Animal Stackers, by Jennifer Belle. Illustrated by David McPhail. Each letter begins the name of an animal, and the letters in the animal's name begins each sentence. As in:

Aunt Alice and Mums warned me
To make crumbs.

In David McPhail's cozily surreal illustration, a girl with a chocolate-covered face discovers an ant at her feet contemplating the cake crumbs that she's let fall.

ABC3D, by Marion Bataille. In this hands-on book, the letters aren't excuses for word play but for shape shifting. Letters transform into each other with the flip of a page. Clever, and a subtle lesson in how letters are put together that will likely be remembered when children move from learning the ABCs to writing them.

Museum ABC, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A is for Apple" is obvious. But when illustrated by artists Roy Lichtenstein, Paul Cezanne, Brian Connelly and an ancient Greek known only as the Orchard Painter, the plain statement becomes beautiful.

There are so many imaginative takes on the ABCs. Which ones did I miss?

By Rachel Hartigan Shea |  April 30, 2009; 6:40 AM ET
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My favorites:

Superhero ABC, by Bob McLeod- a different silly superhero for each letter! (G is Goo Girl, O is the Odor Officer)

The Letters are Lost- by Lisa Campbell Ernst

Posted by: bubba777 | April 30, 2009 8:05 AM

Also Max's ABC, one of Rosemary Wells' Max and Ruby books

Posted by: bubba777 | April 30, 2009 8:07 AM

Check out "Bad Kitty" by Nick Bruel - goes through the letters four times and the illustrations are hilarious. Perfect for kids who enjoy "naughty" stories! Basically, the kitty's owners run out of cat food and catelogue all the healthy food they have, a-z - the prospect of all that healthy food turns kitty bad and we get to go through all the bad things she does. Then the owners come home with food that kitty likes and she becomes a good kitty again and undoes all the bad things that she did before. Very fun!

Posted by: VaLGaL | April 30, 2009 10:33 AM

I heard a three-year-old boy say recently:

A,B,C,Tumbledown D,
Cat's in the cupboard--
Can't see me.

I asked him where he learned it, and he said from his grandmother in Nebraska. I suppose it's a well-known verse that I just hadn't come across before. Anyone know the origins?

Posted by: lheffelkcrrcom | May 1, 2009 9:26 AM

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