Astonishing, Beautiful and Clever:
ABC Books for First Grade

First Grade ABC

ABC books are not just for letters any more. The alphabet books of this new generation are not only appropriate for a first grader, they are downright appealing to a grown-up. While you can still find the classic alphabet books that simply consist of cute pictures labeled by letter, these newer versions often have gorgeous art or photos, a clever twist on a subject, or some other creative approach.

ABC books are great because you can use them as a springboard to introduce your personal favorite topic. Do you love Italy? There's an alphabet book on Italy. Like big trucks? Music? Underwater creatures? You can bet you'll find an ABC book about it.

But the ABC books I like best are the clever ones, the artsy ones, the ones that surprise you and give you things to talk about. These alphabet books do more than just build vocabulary; they tantalize the imagination!

Q is for Duck
  • Q Is For Duck, by Mary Elting and Michael Folsom. A is for Zoo. Why? Because animals live in the zoo! This quirky book is full of letter riddles for first graders, and the illustrations are clear and crisp. The cartoony text is simple enough for beginning readers, too.

  • Alphabet City
  • Alphabet City, by Stephen T. Johnson. Someone took the time to walk around in a city and find letters hidden in things like construction equipment and fire escapes. It may get you and your first graders looking at your surroundings in a whole new way!

  • Butterfly Alphabet
  • Butterfly Alphabet, by Kjell Bloch Sandved. This butterfly book is beyond beautiful. Who would guess that in the patterns of a butterfly's wing, you could find every letter from A to Z? These close-up shots of real butterflies are simply amazing.

  • Superhero ABC
  • Superhero ABC, by Bob McLeod. It looks like a vintage comic book, but with an alphabetical twist! The bright colors pull kids in, and they just have to read every page.

  • Alphabad, by Shannon Stewart. Dubbed "mischievous ABCs" by the author, this Alphabad book is just plain naughty.
    "B" is for booby trap--gum on the floor, stuck to the babysitter's shoe! Do we really have to be good ALL of the time?

  • The Z Was Zapped
  • The Z Was Zapped, by Chris Van Allsburg. Grainy black and white pictures show A in an avalanche, B being badly bitten, and so on. Kids get to guess what is happening on the picture page--the descriptive text comes later. A bit advanced in vocabulary for first graders, but the great illustrations will help them get it.

  • The Beetle Alphabet Book
  • The Beetle Alphabet Book, by Jerry Pallota. What, you don't think beetles are interesting enough for an alphabet book? Wait till you hear about a beetle as big as a child's hand, or one that defends itself by passing gas, or one that eats poop. Great stuff for kids!

What is your FAVORITE children's book?

What's the book your kids ask for over and over? The one that cracks you up, or makes you twinge in sympathy? Tell us about your really GREAT book. We want to know!

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