ABC: The Alphabet (and Beyond)

 

Zapped Zs, Alphabet Cities, dozens of cool and unusual alphabets, a lot of great books and projects, and alphabet flashcards for future nerds! (And it’s not all just for little kids.)

MOSTLY FOR BEGINNERS

 imgres Artist Lisa DeJohn’s colorful Alphabet Animals Flash Cards are printed in bright colors on heavy cardboard. Each has a capital alphabet letter, an animal word in lower-case print, and a great animal illustration, from Ant, Blackbird, and Caterpillar, through Mouse, Octopus and Zebra. For ages 1-4.
 imgres-1 In Stella Blackstone’s Alligator Alphabet (Barefoot Books, 2007), kids learn upper- and lower-case letters with a bevy of adorable painted animals (purple bears, turquoise elephants) in bright attractive borders. For ages 1-4.
 images Keith Baker’s LMNO Peas (Little Simon, 2014) is filled with imaginative cartoon peas participating in dozens of alphabetical professions. See peas as acrobats, artists, and astronauts; builders, bathers, and bikers; painters, poets, and plumbers; and even – eventually – zoologists. For ages 2-6.
 imgres-2 By David A. Carter, AlphaBugs (Little Simon, 2006) is a zany collection of pop-ups, pull-tabs, and liftable flaps concealing a lot of wacky alphabetical bugs. (Bubble Bugs. Yo-Yo Bugs.) For ages 2-6.
 imgres-3 In Lisa Campbell Ernst’s The Letters Are Lost (Puffin, 1999), the letters of the alphabet – each represented as an old-fashioned alphabet block – have been scattered: A flew off in an Airplane, B tumbled into the Bath, C joined a family of Cows. By the end, they’re finally all back in order in their box again – but where will they end up next? (Invent your own lost-letter scenarios.) For ages 2-6.
 imgres-4 In The Human Alphabet (Roaring Brook Press, 2005) by John Kane and the Philobolus Dance Company, dancers in bright-colored leotards take on the shapes of the alphabet letters. For ages 2-6.
 imgres-5 Steve Martin’s The Alphabet from A to Y with Bonus Letter Z! (Flying Dolphin Press, 2007) begins with “Amiable Amy, Alice, and Andie/Ate all the anchovy sandwiches handy.” The illustrations, by brilliant cartoonist Roz Chast, are crammed with extra alphabetical goodies: under B, for example, readers can find everything from boomerangs, bears, and buckets to balloons, a ballerina, and a bowling ball. A great vocabulary builder for ages 2-6.
 imgres-6 Sandra Boynton’s A is for Angry: An Animal and Adjective Alphabet (Workman, 1997) runs from Angry Aardvark (deprived of ants) to Bashful Bear, Frightened Fox, and Zany Zebra (grinning, in pointy yellow party hat). Readers learn the alphabet, a host of animal names, emotion words, and the meaning of “adjective.” For ages 3-5.
 imgres-7 Mary Elting’s Q is for Duck (Houghton Mifflin, 1985) is an alphabetical guessing game of animal sounds: Q is for duck because ducks quack. (Now try B is for Dog.) For ages 3-5.
 imgres-8 In Sara Pinto’s interactive The Alphabet Room (Bloomsbury USA, 2003), A is predictably for Apple and Z for Zebra – but each letter is accompanied by a revealing lift-the-flap door, behind which increasing numbers of labeled objects are continually shuffled and rearranged. (The Cat and Dog play with the Fish; the little Lamb eats Ivy; and the Moustache pops up everywhere.) For ages 3-6.
 imgres-9 In Maira Kalman’s What Pete Ate From A to Z (Puffin, 2003) – subtitled “Where We Explore the English Alphabet (in its entirety) In Which a Certain Dog Devours a Myriad of Items Which He Should Not” – Pete chows down on an astonishing array of alphabetical stuff, beginning with Uncle Rocky’s Accordion. All with explanatory asides from his frustrated, but loving, owner. Funny and clever for ages 3-7.
 imgres-10 Dr. Seuss’s ABC (Random House, 1991) is a zany rhyming alphabet book beginning with “Aunt Annie’s alligator” and ending with “Zizzer-zazzer-zuzz.” Irresistible for ages 3-7.
 imgres-11 Who doesn’t love Bill Martin, Jr., and John Archambault’s catchy Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Beach Lane Books, 2009): “A told B/and B told C/I’ll meet you at the top/of the coconut tree.” (But 26 letters, it turns out, are a lot to cram into a coconut tree.) For ages 3-7.
 imgres-12 In Leslie Tryon’s Albert’s Alphabet (Aladdin, 1994), Albert – the school carpenter and a very creative duck – builds all the letters of the alphabet. For ages 3-7.
 imgres-13 In H.A. Rey’s Curious George Learns the Alphabet (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1973), everyone’s favorite little monkey learns the upper- and lower-case letters of the alphabet, with help from the Man in the Yellow Hat. The trick is picture mnemonics: upper-case A, for example, looks like an alligator’s open mouth and lower-case a like a slice of apple; H looks like a house and h like a horse. For ages 3-7.
imgres-98 By graphic artist Paul Thurlby, Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet (Templar, 2011) has big bright retro-style drawings for each letter of the alphabet. Memory-jogging illustrations include A (for Awesome), E (Embrace), F (Fierce), and R (Rabbit). Check it out at Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet.
 imgres-14 Maurice Sendak’s Alligators All Around (HarperCollins, 1991) is a delightful alphabet romp with alligators, in which a family of three variously bursts balloons, catches cold, entertains elephants, makes macaroni, and pushes people. For ages 3-7.
From ReadWriteThink, Alliteration All Around is a five-part lesson plan in which kids make their own alliterative alphabet books and write alliterative poetry. (Targeted at grades 3-5.)
 imgres-15 In Lesa Cline-Ransome’s Quilt Alphabet (Holiday House, 2002), each letter of the alphabet – framed in a quilt square – is paired with an alphabetical riddle poem and a folk-art painting.  Answer are country-cosy: APPLE, COW, KETTLE, PIE, SCARECROW. For ages 3-6.
 imgres-16 In Tana Hoban’s 26 Letters and 99 Cents (Greenwillow Books, 1995), colorful photos of plastic letters are paired with photos of objects – D with a toy dinosaur, F with a goldfish, J with a handful of jellybeans. Flip the book over and it becomes a counting book in the same format. For ages 3-8.
 imgres-17 In Alethea Kontis’s AlphaOops! (Candlewick, 2012), put-upon Z (“Zebra and I are SICK of this last-in-line stuff!”) creates havoc in the alphabet, until A manages to pull things back together. A delightful read for ages 3-8.
 imgres-19 Arnold Lobel’s On Market Street (Greenwillow Books, 2006) chronicles in alphabetical order the list of objects a small sailor-suited child buys on Market Street. The illustrations – from apples, books, and clocks to lollipops, playing cards, quilts, and wigs – are wonderful Arcimboldo-type paintings of people made entirely from their wares. For ages 3-8.
 imgres-20 Max Grover’s The Accidental Zucchini (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1997) is a wholly unexpected alphabet book, populated with such oddities as apple autos, octopus overalls, and vegetable volcanos. For ages 4-7.
 imgres-21 In George Shannon’s Tomorrow’s Alphabet (Greenwillow Books, 1999) – as in Mary Elting’s Q is for Duck – letter cues require a little forward thinking. A, for example, is for seed – tomorrow’s APPLE – and D is for puppy, tomorrow’s DOG. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-22 Graeme Base’s gorgeously alliterative Animalia (Harry N. Abrams, 1993) includes such alphabetical phrases as “An Armoured Armadillo Avoiding An Angry Alligator” and “Eight Enormous Elephants Expertly Eating Easter Eggs.” For all ages.
 imgres-23 In David Pelletier’s The Graphic Alphabet (Scholastic, 1996), a Caldecott Honor book, each page is essentially a concrete poem. A, for example, is an A-shaped mountain, crumbling at the top with a tumbling avalanche. For ages 6 and up.
 imgres-24 Marion Bataille’s ABC3D (Roaring Brook Press, 2008) is a truly spectacular three-dimensional alphabet pop-up book, in elegant red, white, and black. For pop-up fans of all ages.
For free printables for making your own pop-up alphabet booklets, see Canon Creative Park.

STORIES + ALPHABETS

 imgres-25 In Leo Lionni’s The Alphabet Tree (Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), each letter has a favorite leaf on the alphabet tree – until a gale-force wind swoops in and blows them all over the place. The solution is cooperation, as the letters band together to form words. For ages 3-7.
The Alphabet Tree has multidisciplinary extension activities to accompany the book, among them learning about seasons, creating story sequence cards, making a word tree poster, and studying tree growth and planting seeds.
 imgres-26 Al Pha, main character of Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Al Pha’s Bet (Putnam Juvenile, 2011), lived “back when all sorts of things were being invented” – among them, the alphabet. Al takes on the challenge of putting all the letters in proper order. For ages 3-5.
 imgres-27 In Dr. Seuss’s On Beyond Zebra (Random House, 1955), inventive young Conrad Cornelius O’Donald O’Dell introduces a host of wonderful letters that come after Z. (Try YUZZ, THNAB, and FLOOB.) (Invent some of your own!) For ages 4-8.
 imgres-28 Tony DiTerlizzi’s G is for One Gzonk (Simon & Schuster, 2006) is an outrageously zany “alpha-number-bet book” in which readers learn letters and numbers through such imaginary creatures as the Angry Ack, Dinkalicious Dinky, and Ravenous Rotoid. Lots of clever vocabulary and witty asides. For ages 4-7.
 imgres-29 In Kelly Bingham’s Z is for Moose (Greenwillow Books, 2012 ), Zebra is directing the line-up of the alphabet, a task continually disrupted by the over-eager Moose, who keeps bursting onto the scene, demanding “Is it my turn now?” “NOW?” Devastatingly, when M finally comes along, the letter goes to Mouse – but Zebra saves the day at Z, when Z stands for “Zebra’s friend Moose.” A great (and funny) read for ages 4-8.
 imgres-30 In Neil Gaiman’s The Dangerous Alphabet (HarperCollins, 2010), two kids and their pet gazelle launch themselves into a spooky underground in search of treasure. The story, rife with pirates, monsters, and trolls, is told in rhyming alphabetical (slightly scrambled) couplets. With Victorian-style illustrations by Gris Grimly. For ages 6-9.
 imgres-31 In James Thurber’s The Wonderful O (Simon & Schuster, 1957), a pirate named Black in search of buried treasure takes over the island of Ooroo and proceeds to ban the letter O. As the pirates forcibly remove everything with an O in its name, the islanders, led by a poet named Andreus, vow that four O words will not be lost: hope, valor, love, and freedom. This short chapter book is appropriate for ages 8 or so and up – probably not much younger; the word play is so clever that kids need well-developed reading and vocabulary skills to fully appreciate it.
 imgres-32 Ella Minnow Pea. Say it once or twice, fast, and you’ll see what it has to do with the alphabet. Ella is the protagonist of Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn (Anchor, 2002), set on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. The island is named for its founder, Nevin Nollop, inventor of the famous pangram (that is, a sentence using all 26 letters of the alphabet) “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” This pangram is set in tiles on the base of Nollop’s memorial monument and when the tiles start falling off, the Nollopian governmental committee attributes it not to failing glue but to a sign from the beyond. The Z is the first to fall, and it is promptly decreed that the letter Z be expunged from the Nollopian alphabet. This is a problem for Nollopians named Zeke or Zachary, and a disaster for the island beekeeper (the bees, which make ZZZ sounds all the time, have to be eliminated), but most people manage to get by. As more and more letters fall, however, life becomes increasingly difficult; and the island takes on aspects of a fascist state.  For teenagers and adults.
 images-1 Visit Pangrams to learn all about these slippery alphabetical sentences and have a try at inventing one of your own.
 imgres-34 In fantasy author Patricia McKillip’s Alphabet of Thorn (Ace Trade, 2005), Nepenthe, a foundling with an unusual talent for language and translation, is raised by the librarians of the Royal Library of Raine, where she leads a secluded ivory-tower existence, devoted to books. Then a student mage brings her a new book written in a strange thorn-like alphabet that only she can read – and that appears to have strange magical powers. For teenagers and adults.

ALL ABOUT THE ALPHABET

 imgres-35 James Rumford’s There’s a Monster in the Alphabet (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002) is the story of the pictorial beginnings of our modern alphabet, supposedly first brought to ancient Greece by the Phoenecian hero Cadmus. An appended chart compares English, Phoenecian, Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic alphabets.
 imgres-36 Don Robb’s Ox, House, Stick: The History of Our Alphabet (Charlesbridge, 2007) is a 48-page picture-book history of the alphabet targeted at ages 8-12.
 imgres-37 Alphabet Books from Grim Morality to Pleasurable Learning is a brief history of alphabet books (with examples) from The Victorian Web.
 imgres-38 David Sacks’s Letter Perfect (Broadway Books, 2004) is the “marvelous history of our alphabet” from the Phoenecians to the present day. Included are general information, a family tree of world alphabets, many alphabetic charts, photographs of artifacts, and 26 informative chapters, each devoted to a different letter of the alphabet. Find out how letters got their shapes, why some letters have multiple sounds, and why X marks the spot. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-39 Roy Blount’s Alphabet Juice (Sarah Crichton Books, 2009), arranged A to Z alphabet-style, is an info- and anecdote-filled overview of words and letters. The enormous subtitle gives you a sense of the content: “The Energies, Gists, and Spirits of Letters, Words, and Combinations Thereof; Their Roots, Bones, Innards, Piths, Pips, and Secret Parts, Tinctures, Tonics, and Essences; With Examples of Their Usage Foul and Savory.” For teenagers and adults.

POSITIVELY WICKED ALPHABETS

 imgres-40 Chris Van Allburg’s The Z was Zapped (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1987) is a clever play in 26 acts, in which each letter – appearing in black-and-white on a curtained stage – has something (generally awful) happen to it. A, for example, is caught in an Avalanche, B is Badly Bitten, K is Kidnapped, Y is Yanked offstage with a crook. And you can see by the title what happened to Z. A creative read for ages 4 and up.
By Far the Best Alphabet Book Ever is a lesson plan in which kids create their own “alphabet riddles” based on The Z Was Zapped. Included is a printable page of a curtained stage.
Also see The Z Was Zapped Alliteration Project (targeted at grade 3).
 imgres-41 By Shel Silverstein, Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book (Touchstone, 1985) is a wickedly funny alphabet book supposedly for adults only. (“Meet Ernie, the giant who lives in the ceiling. Ernie likes eggs. Catch, Ernie, catch!”) My kids found it hilarious. For all ages, depending on sense of humor.
 imgres-42 In Edward Gorey’s rhyming The Gashlycrumb Tinies (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1997), a succession of Victorian children come to sad, bad ends, from Amy (who fell down the stairs) and Basil (assaulted by bears) to Zilla (who drank too much gin). My macabre children adored and memorized it. For a wide range of appropriately twisted ages. In our house, it was found hysterical by age 7.
 imgres-43 Also see Gorey’s Thoughtful Alphabets (Pomegranate, 2012), a pair of grimly hilarious 26-phrase stories (“The Just Dessert” and “The Deadly Blotter”), both running from A to Z. (“Apologize. Bewail complications.”)
 imgres-44 By Jory John and Avery Monsen, K is for Knifeball (Chronicle Books, 2012) is a rhyming A to Z collection of truly terrible advice, supposedly directed at (but not really for) kids. B is for Blender. F is for Fire. You can see where this is going.
 imgres-45 In Roz Chast’s What I Hate From A to Z (Bloomsbury USA, 2011), a cartoon compendium of miseries, B is for Balloon (“imminent explosion”), C is for Carnival, G for General Anaesthesia, and S for Spontaneous Human Combustion. For teenagers and adults. Make one of your own. Think therapy.

ALPHABETS IN THE REAL WORLD

 images-3 By architectural photographer Elliott Kaufman, Alphabet Everywhere (Abbeville Kids, 2012) shows how the letters of the alphabet appear in all sorts of unexpected ways in the world around us, from bridge supports to sidewalk shadows to branches, leaves, and ocean waves. (Would make a great family project.) For ages 3 and up.
 imgres-47 Stephen Johnson’s Alphabet City (Puffin, 1999), a Caldecott Honor book, is a wordless tour of the alphabet, finding letters A to Z in construction sites, fire escapes, traffic lights, lamp posts, and church windows. For ages 3 and up.
 imgres-48 By Krystina Castella and Brian Boyd, Discovering Nature’s Alphabet (Heyday, 2006) is a fascinating collecting of color photographs of alphabet images from nature, found in everything from branches, vines, and rocks to seaweed on the beach. (Try taking an alphabet nature walk.) For ages 5 and up.
 imgres-49 Karl Blossfeldt’s The Alphabet of Plants (Schimmer/Mosel, 2007) is not an alphabet, but rather a collection of stunning black-and-white photographs of plant patterns in nature. All ages.

HISTORY, ALPHABET-STYLE

 imgres-50 Martin Jarrie’s ABC USA (Sterling, 2005) is an alphabetical overview of American history and culture (B is for Baseball, F is for Flag, I is for Immigrant), with charming folk-art-style illustrations. For ages 3-8.
 imgres-51 Lynne Cheney’s America: A Patriotic Primer (Simon & Schuster, 2002) is an alphabet book of American history and culture, with multifaceted cartoon-style illustrations by Robin Preiss Glasser. Lots to look at and discuss. For ages 5-10.
 imgres-52 Lynne Cheney’s A is for Abigail (Simon & Schuster, 2003) is an alphabet of famous American women, beginning with the indomitable Abigail Adams. Clever cartoon-style illustrations by Robin Preiss Glasser are crammed with extra information. Many pages are composites, such as E (for Educators) and W (for Writers). For ages 5-10.
 imgres-53 James Rumford’s Sequoyah: The Cherokee Man Who Gave His People Writing (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004) is a picture-book biography of the inventor of the Cherokee syllabary. The text appears in both English and Cherokee; included is a Cherokee alphabet chart. For ages 5-8.
The Cherokee Alphabet and How to Use It is a tutorial on writing in Cherokee.
 imgres-54 By artist/historian Eric Sloane, the ABC Book of Early Americana (Dover Publications, 2012) is a beautifully illustrated compendium of American inventions and antiquities, from Axe, Almanack, Bathtub, and Conestoga wagon to Zig-zag fence. Included is a section on “The Alphabet in Early America.” For all ages.

AROUND THE WORLD WITH ALPHABETS

 imgres-55 From Sleeping Bear Press, the Discover the World series consists of alphabet books on various countries of the world, among them America, England, Italy, China, and India. See the link for a complete list, plus accompanying recipes, games, and maps. For ages 6-8.
 imgres-56 Margaret Musgrove’s Ashanti to Zulu (Puffin, 1992) is an alphabet of African tribes and traditions, with an appended map showing where each of the featured tribes lives. The gorgeous illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon won this book a Caldecott Medal. For ages 3-8.
 imgres-57 By Maya Ajmera and Anna Rhesa Versola, Children from Australia to Zimbabwe (Charlesbridge Publishing, 2001) is an alphabetical and photographic journey around the world. For each country are included a colorful map, helpful background information, the word “hello” in the dominant language, and a lot of terrific photos. For ages 7-12.
 imgres-58 Rather than a phonetic alphabet, some languages – like Chinese – are written with pictographic characters. Peggy Goldman’s Hu is a Tiger (Scholastic, 1996) is a simple introduction to Chinese characters for kids.
 imgres-59 A survey of multicultural and alternative alphabets can be a fascinating project for all ages. See Omniglot for background information on the history of writing and an immense and fascinating list of writing systems. Visitors can view the Cyrillic, Etruscan, Runic, and Greek alphabets, and many many more. The site also includes a list of “alternative alphabets,” including Braille, Morse code, and the Shavian alphabet – inspired by George Bernard Shaw, who touted a phonetic alphabet designed to simplify English spelling.

 SCIENCE, MATH, AND ALPHABETS

 images-4 Nerdy Baby ABC Flashcards are not your ordinary A-is-for-Apple flashcards. In these 26 laminated, illustrated cards, aimed at future geeks and scientists, A is for Atom, C for Cell membrane, M for Mandelbrot set, and N for Neuron.
 imgres-61 Lois Ehlert’s Eating the Alphabet runs the gamut from Apricot, Apple Avocado, and Asparagus to Zucchini. A brightly illustrated compendium of multicultural fruits and veggies, including such not-so-common selections as Jicama, Kiwi, Yam, and Xigua. For ages 2-5.
 imgres-62 Anita Lobel’s Alison’s Zinnia (Greenwillow, 1996) is a lovely interlinking alphabet of girls’ names, flower names, and verbs, from “Alison acquired an Amaryllis for Beryl” to the neatly tied up “Zena zeroed in on a Zinnia for Alison.” Illustrated with beautiful and botanically accurate flower paintings. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-63 Mary Azarian’s A Gardener’s Alphabet (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2005), illustrated with colored woodcuts, is a collection of 26 alphabetical garden words, beginning with ARBOR, BULBS, and COMPOST. For ages 4-8.
 images-5 In the same format, see Azarian’s A Farmer’s Alphabet (David R. Godine, 2009). (APPLE, LAMB, PUMPKIN, ZINNIA.) For ages 4-8.
 imgres-64 By David McLimans, Gone Wild (Walker Children’s Books, 2006) – a Caldecott Honor book – is an alphabet of endangered animals from Chinese Alligator to Grevy’s Zebra. Black-and-white letters are cleverly transmogrified into animals, complete with horns, eyes, tongues, and wings. For ages 4-6.
  imgres-65 Name a topic and Jerry Pallotta has almost certainly written an alphabet book about it. For a complete list – everything from Airplanes, Beetles, and Birds to Vegetables and Yucky Reptiles – see here.
 imgres-66 Particularly fascinating for young scientists is Jerry Pallotta’s The Skull Alphabet Book (Charlesbridge, 2002) which pictures the skulls of 26 different animals (anteater to zebra). The skulls aren’t labeled; readers have to figure out the source for themselves from clues in the text. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-67 In Kjell Sandved’s The Butterfly Alphabet (Scholastic, 1999), readers find the letters of the alphabet in the patterns on butterfly wings – that is, real butterfly wings. The author, a nature photographer, decided to create the book when he found a perfect letter F on the wing of a tropical moth that he was studying under the microscope. Double-page spreads show the whole butterfly or moth with its scientific name, paired with a close-up of the wing showing an alphabet letter pattern. For all ages.
Available from Butterfly Alphabet, Inc., is a Butterfly Alphabet poster. (There’s also an option to write your name in butterfly wings.)
 imgres-68 By David M. Schwartz, G is for Google (Tricycle Press, 1998) is a math alphabet book, running from A is for Abacus to Z is for Zillion. (In between, Binary, Exponent, Fibonacci,  and X-axis.) Each entry is accompanied by catchy cartoon-style illustrations and two to three pages of reader-friendly explanation. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-69 In David M. Schwartz’s multidisciplinary Q is for Quark (Tricycle Press, 2009) – a science alphabet book – A is for Atom, B for Black Hole, C for Clone, and X for Xylem. Each entry comes with appealing cartoon illustrations and two to three pages of background information and explanation. For ages 9-12.
my-first-physics-alphabet-poster My First Physics Poster is a great A to Z infographic poster in which a is for acceleration, c for speed of light in a vacuum, f for frequency, and h for Planck’s constant.

ALPHABETICAL ART

 imgres-70 In Denise Fleming’s Alphabet Under Construction (Square Fish, 2006), artistic Mouse is busily creating an alphabet, using a different creative technique from each letter – for example, Air-brushing the A, Buttoning the B, Carving the C, and Dyeing the D. For ages 3-6.
 abcdefg See Alphabet Under Construction Activities for printable bookmarks  and instructions for making a mouse hat and constructing your own wonderful-looking Mouse-style alphabet.
 DSCN3822 From Growing Kinders, Alphabet Under Construction has instructions for making great collage-style alphabet letters.
 imgres-71 From the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum ABC (Little, Brown Books, 2002) is a tour of the alphabet through dozens of works of art from the Museum’s collection. A beautiful book for ages 3 and up.
 imgres-72 By Cynthia Weill, ABeCeDarios (Cinco Puntos, 2007) is an alphabet book of Mexican folk art animals, in which animal names are listed in both English and Spanish. The animals are carved and brightly painted sculptures. Grab some modeling clay and make some of your own. For ages 2-4.
 imgres-73 Lucy Mickelthwait’s I Spy: An Alphabet in Art (Greenwillow, 1998) is a collection of 26 famous paintings, among them works by Rousseau, Goya, Chagall, Picasso, Renoir, and Matisse. Each is chosen to illustrate a letter of the alphabet, which often involves a bit of a hunt. The book begins with Rene Magritte’s Son of Man, with its prominent green Apple. For ages 3-8.
 imgres-74 Nathanael Iwata’s Steampunk Alphabet (Cameron + Company, 2013) takes ordinary alphabet-book fare – Apple, Balloon, Candle – and re-images them steampunk-style, in wood and brass, with dials, levers, cogs, and gears.  Included are explanations of the objects’ uses in an imagined steampunk universe. For ages 4 and up.
 images-6 In Stephen Johnson’s A is for Art (Simon & Schuster, 2008), there’s more than initially meets the eye. The book consists of 26 original works of abstract art, each containing concealed alphabet letters. For ages 6 and up.
 imgres-75 Some of the most gorgeous alphabets ever are surely the illuminated letters of medieval manuscripts.  Kids can learn about the process of 15th-century book-making in Bruce Robertson’s Marguerite Makes a Book (J. Paul Getty Museum Publications, 1999) in which young Marguerite, when her artist father is injured, takes over and finishes his beautiful hand-written and painted book. Fold-out pages explain the technicalities of the process, including how paints were mixed and gold leaf applied. For ages 7-12.
 images-7 This Illuminated Letter project has background information, color photos of examples, and instructions.
 imgres-76 Theodore Menten’s The Illuminated Alphabet (Dover Publications, 1971) is an inexpensive coloring book with 50 detailed black-line medieval letters to color. For ages 8 and up.
 imgres-77 Tony Seddon’s Draw Your Own Alphabets (Princeton Architectural Press, 2013) is a workbook with which users learn to draw thirty different creative fonts (and invent some of your own). For ages 10 and up.
From Wikihow, see How to Create a Font.
YourFonts.com is an online font generator that allows you to turn your handwriting into a font.
 Type-Alphabet9 Check out these 30 Amazing Alphabet Recreations – alphabets in everything from architecture to skylights, neon, books, and cucumbers.

ABCs with EXTRAS

 imgres-78 Jane Bayer’s A, My Name is Alice (Puffin, 1992) is an alphabetical picture-book version of the traditional jump rope rhyme, with illustrations by Steven Kellogg. (Add a jump rope and give it a try.) For ages 4-8.
 imgres-80 By Ann Whitford Paul, Eight Hands Round (HarperCollins, 1996) is a charmingly illustrated history of 26 alphabetical quilt patterns. For ages 4-9.
 imgres-81 Laura Rankin’s The Handmade Alphabet (Puffin, 1996) teaches American Sign Language with clever letter-related visual cues. For each letter, a hand demonstrates the finger positions of the ASL alphabet, along with an alphabetical extra: the G hand, for example, wears a glove; I points to an Icicle; the T hand sports three thimbles; the V holds a paper valentine. For ages 6 and up.
 imgres-82 Chris L. Demarest’s Alpha Bravo Charlie (Margaret K. McElderry, 2005) is a picture-book introduction to the military or International Communications Alphabet (ICA), along with a chart of the U.S. Navy’s alphabetical signal flags. For ages 6-9.
See Phonetic Alphabet Tables for more phonetic alphabets, along with a tool for inventing some of your own.
 imgres-83 Learn more about the U.S. Navy’s Phonetic Alphabet and Signal Flags.
 imgres-84 Tobi Tobias’s A World of Words (Lothrop Lee & Shepard, 1998) is a beautiful illustrated alphabet of quotations by such authors as Emily Dickinson, e.e. cummings, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Lewis Carroll. (Interested older kids might enjoy making alphabetic quotation books of their own.) For all ages.

ALPHABETICAL POETRY

 imgres-85 Katrina Vandenberg’s The Alphabet Not Unlike the World (Milkweed Editions, 2012) is a collection of poems named for the Phoenician letters of the alphabet. A compelling collection for teenagers and adults.
 imgres-86 Edward Lear’s Alphabet Poem runs from “A tumbled down and hurt his arm” to “Z said, ‘Here is a box of Zinc!’”
 imgres-87 Gennady Spirin’s A, Apple Pie (Philomel, 2005) is an enchantingly illustrated picture-book version of the traditional alphabet rhyme beginning “A was an Apple Pie/B bit it/C cut it…” For all ages.
 imgres-88 By Lee Bennett Hopkins, Alphathoughts (Wordsong, 2003) is an illusrated collection of 26 poems, each representing a letter of the alphabet. B is for Books, J for Jelly, L for Library, P for Pencil. For ages 6-8.
 imgres-89 Richard Wilbur’s picture book The Disappearing Alphabet (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2001) demonstrates in clever rhymes what would happen if each letter of the alphabet should vanish: “What if the letter S were missing?/Cobras would have no way of hissing/And all their kin would have to take/The name of ERPENT or of NAKE.” Terrific for all ages.
 imgres-90 April Bubbles Chocolate: An ABC of Poetry, compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins (Simon & Schuster, 1994), is a collection of 26 short alphabetical poems ranging from Eve Merriam’s “April” to Carl Sandburg’s “Bubbles,” Karla Kushkin’s “Moon,” and Richard Brautigan’s “Xerox Candy Bar.” For ages 3-8.
 imgres-91 Jeanne Steig’s Alpha Beta Chowder (HarperTrophy, 1994) is a collection of hysterical alliterative alphabet rhymes. (T, for example, features Tactless Toby who teases Tina with tadpoles in her tapioca.) For ages 7 and up.
 imgres-92 Paul Janeczko’s Poetry from A to Z (Simon & Schuster, 1994) is a marvelous guide for young poets with projects, examples, and helpful hints for poetic genres listed alphabetically. Try, for example, Acrostics, Clerihews, How-to Poems and Haikus, Memory Poems, and Shape Poems. Highly recommended for ages 9-12.
For many more poetry books and resources, see Poetry I and Poetry II.

PROJECTS AND ACTIVITIES

 imgres-93 Sara Midda’s How to Build an A (Artisan, 2008) is a simple alphabet book (A for Apple, B for Boy) that comes with eleven plastic puzzle pieces with which kids can build all the upper- and lower-case letters of the alphabet. For ages 2-5.
 imgres-94 Judy Press’s Alphabet Art (Williamson Publishing, 1997) is a collection of poems, songs, projects, games, and fingerplays for teaching the letters of the alphabet. For example, kids make upper- and lower-case Bs from bubblewrap (templates can be traced from the book), assemble a paper Butterfly, and read Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar (which sounds like a C book, but there’s a gorgeous and enormous butterfly on the last page).For ages 2-6.
 imgres-95 From Enchanted Learning, Alphabet Book has instructions for putting together a simple version of an alphabet book for early learners. You’ll need construction paper and a lot of old magazines.
 imgres-95 Also see Design and Create an Alphabet Journal.
For older students, ABC Books Aren’t for Babies! has creative alphabet book activities for grades K-12. Included is an A to Z list of suggestions: students can make, for example, an Ancient Civilizations Alphabet Book, a Biology Alphabet Book, a Mathematics Alphabet Book, or a Technology Alphabet Book.
 920 Decorate with the alphabet! At Alphabet Around the Room, find instructions for making a cool wrap-around alphabet and word display.
 Alphabet-For-Starters-Alphabet-Peg-Dolls-300x215 From No Time for Flash Cards, 25 Alphabet Activities for Kids include making a magnetic alphabet garden, a letter pizza, a recycled alphabet, and a set of alphabet peg dolls.
 better-letters-craft-photo-420x420-FF0811CREATE_A16 Projects at Spoonful’s 26 Alphabet Crafts include growing the letters of your name (with wheat berry seeds), baking oatmeal ABC cookies, making letter gems, and assembling a photo alphabet book.
 imgres-96 At ABCYa, play Alphabet Bingo online. Learn upper- and lower-case letters.
Build Your Own Bingo has printable bingo boards and instructions for making your own alphabet bingo game.
 imgres-97 Check out this great Lego Spaceship Alphabet. (Build one of your own?)
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