The best alphabet books

Many authors have picked their favorite books about alphabet and why they recommend each book.

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Alphabreaths

By Christopher Willard, Daniel Rechtschaffen, Holly Clifton-Brown (illustrator)

Book cover of Alphabreaths: The ABCs of Mindful Breathing

Alphabreaths is brilliant. It’s a colorful alphabet book and a mindfulness book in one. Clinical psychologist Christopher Willard teamed up with family therapist Daniel Rechtsschaffen and illustrator Holly Clifton-Brown to create mindful activities from A to Z. Kids will want to try out these breath and mindfulness techniques because they are so simple, and the illustrations so inviting. You can do each one without any prior understanding of mindfulness or breath techniques.

My favorite pages include: “Question Breath. As you breathe in, ask yourself how you are feeling. As you breathe out, answer.”

“Superhero Breathe. Breathe in and imagine you are a superhero. Breathe out and imagine how you will help someone.”

“Wish Breath. Breathe in and make a happy wish for yourself. Breathe out and send a happy wish to someone else.”

I’m crazy about Clifton-Brown’s illustrations. Her characters express innocence, wonder, and serenity. Her palette is soft yet…

Alphabreaths

By Christopher Willard, Daniel Rechtschaffen, Holly Clifton-Brown (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Alphabreaths as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Alphabreaths, children will learn their ABCs and the basics of mindfulness through playful breathing exercises. Breaths like Mountain Breath and Redwood Breath will connect them with nature, while breaths like Heart Breath and Wish Breath will help them remember to fill their heart with gratitude and send good wishes to others.

Simple, playful, and with delightful illustrations, Alphabreaths is the perfect introduction to mindfulness and breath awareness.

Who am I?

Whitney Stewart will travel far for a story—trekking in a Himalayan snowstorm with Sir Edmund Hillary, climbing to remote Buddhist monasteries in Tibet, interviewing the Dalai Lama in India, and Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar. She is an award-winning author of nonfiction for children, and a longtime meditation practitioner. When she is not writing or traveling, she teaches mindfulness and self-care to children.


I wrote...

Mindful Tots: Tummy Ride

By Whitney Stewart, Rocio Alejandro (illustrator),

Book cover of Mindful Tots: Tummy Ride

What is my book about?

I adapted my mindfulness exercises from Mindful Kids Activity Deck into a board book series to help toddlers manage their emotions and engage more easily in life. Each of the four board books, beautifully illustrated by Rocio Alejandro, offers toddlers one simple mindfulness technique—to calm down, to share kindness with others, to relax into sleep time, or to transition from activity to activity. Barefoot Books published the series in English and in bilingual, Spanish-English editions.

R Is for Robot

By Adam F. Watkins,

Book cover of R Is for Robot: A Noisy Alphabet

The artwork in this colorful book is detailed and amazing. It’s a big job to move letters of the alphabet and the expressions on these robots’ faces are priceless, especially the gleeful ones. This action-packed book is filled with fun sounds and a variety of skinny-limbed robots hauling letters in every color of the rainbow. At times it’s a challenge to find the small item that begins with the letter. There is a lot packed into each page.

R Is for Robot

By Adam F. Watkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked R Is for Robot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

These noisy robots make the alphabet a hilarious adventure!

In this noisy alphabet book, Adam F. Watkins's silly robots are building the alphabet. Featuring hilarious robots making goofy noises, this alphabet book is perfect for young readers.

Who am I?

I’m fascinated by robots. As a former computer programmer, systems analyst, and consultant, I’ve had an interest in technology since my first programming class in high school. I’ve been to robotics labs in Boston, Massachusetts, and Lausanne, Switzerland. My husband is a mechanical/software engineer, so STEM is a big part of our lives. In addition to Robo-Motion, I’m the author of a number of Minecraft books with STEM and coding sidebars. I’ve also published many magazine articles, one of which was the inspiration for this book. I wrote about the CRAM cockroach robot for the March 2017 issue of MUSE.


I wrote...

Robo-Motion: Robots That Move Like Animals

By Linda Zajac,

Book cover of Robo-Motion: Robots That Move Like Animals

What is my book about?

Animals skitter, scuttle, grip, and glide and so do robots. In this nonfiction picture book about biomimicry, a photograph of each animal is paired with a fascinating robot that mimics its motion. Details about each robot’s purpose convey how robots can benefit society. This STEM title includes back matter, a glossary, and information about biomimicry. Through Robo-Motion for Research, I’m donating a portion of the proceeds to support research on diseases and medical conditions that affect children.

Signing Everyday Phrases

By Mickey Flodin,

Book cover of Signing Everyday Phrases: More Than 3,400 Signs

Whenever I need an ASL translation of an English word or phrase I check Signing Everyday Phrases. It provides the Manual Alphabet and breaks the book into chapters like “Home, Family, and Friends,” “Leisure and Sports,” “Time, Weather, and Holidays,” and a lot more. If you need the sign for a word, check the Index, and you’ll find it there. The book provides pictures of the sign and below that, a printed explanation. If you are learning ASL basics, this book will be a huge help. 

Signing Everyday Phrases

By Mickey Flodin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Signing Everyday Phrases as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

I was a teacher when I awoke one morning to an unnatural silence. The ENT specialist said the rare virus would return and I’d become deaf one day. Six years later he was proven right, and I had to accept disability because I couldn’t understand my students. I took American Sign Language classes at a local community college, and I taught myself to write. I penned six novels; two about deafness. At the turn of the century, I met Jila, an amazing deaf woman. She told me stories about growing up deaf and Jewish in Iran. After her death from colon cancer, I put her stories together and novelized her life in The Lip Reader.


I wrote...

The Lip Reader

By Michael Thal,

Book cover of The Lip Reader

What is my book about?

Zhila recalls her struggle with deafness and refusing to allow adversity to stop her from reaching her dreams. Disgusted with the Iranian Islamic government, Zhila immigrates to the United States. It isn’t until she is forty-nine, when she meets Mickey Daniels and begins to feel her life is truly complete.

After they have fallen deeply in love, Zhila learns that she has Stage 4 colon cancer. Mickey becomes her caretaker, and the two grow ever closer as they fight the disease together. Throughout it all, Zhila shows her caring nature and willpower to overcome almost any challenge. Her courage and the beauty of her memory is certain to inspire all who follow her on their quest for a truly meaningful life.

Book cover of Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever

Try to get your hands on the original 1963 edition that made Richard Scarry‘s fortune and allowed him to move his family to Switzerland, for the skiing. It’s a fabulous book that’s crowded with scenes of purpose and industry, and with labeled pictures that bespeak the world’s exciting wideness. There are birds (the quail, pheasant, wren, bittern), buildings (a cathedral, pyramid, fort, skyscraper), flowers (clover, pansies, asters, foxgloves), and houses (the igloo, grass house, half-timbered house, chalet). Over time, subsequent editions were stripped of this eccentric specificity and of Scarry’s courtly depictions of traditional social roles (gone, for instance, are the “handsome pilot” and the “pretty stewardess”).

Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever

By Richard Scarry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

As a journalist, WSJ book critic, and mother of five, I‘ve been perfectly placed to witness the astounding effects of reading aloud. For decades I've been reading to my children (and to my husband, too) every night, often for a solid hour or more. Storytime has been the central civilizing joy of our family life: We’ve bonded emotionally, gone on shared imaginative adventures, and filled our heads with pictures and words. Long ago I knew something big was happening to us, and I felt sure my children were benefitting, but it wasn’t until I began digging around into the behavioral and brain science that I learned just how consequential reading aloud can be. In my book, I lay it all out.


I wrote...

Book cover of The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction

What is my book about?

A conversation-changing look at the social, familial, neurological, and psychological benefits of reading aloud, especially for parents and children.

A miraculous alchemy occurs when one person reads to another, transforming the simple stuff of a book, a voice, and a bit of time into complex and powerful fuel for the heart, brain, and imagination. Grounded in the latest neuroscience and behavioural research, and drawing widely from literature, The Enchanted Hour explains the dazzling cognitive and social-emotional benefits that await children who are read to, whatever their class, nationality or family background.

P Is for Potty!

By Naomi Kleinberg, Christopher Moroney (illustrator),

Book cover of P Is for Potty!

There’s a lot going on in P! is for Potty!—and I like it! In this book, Elmo is having a playdate with his cousin (who is potty training) and there are also lift-the-flaps all over each page. Bonus: Something many people don’t realize is that Sesame Street is run by a non-profit called Sesame Workshop—and the programs and resources they provide for kids and families around the globe are capital I Incredible. So, not to be dramatic about it, but you’re not just making Elmo part of your potty journey if you get this book—you’re basically helping make the world a better place, too.  

P Is for Potty!

By Naomi Kleinberg, Christopher Moroney (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked P Is for Potty! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

It doesn’t matter that I’m a former journalist who has also most recently worked at Sesame Workshop (yes, that Elmo!) and Mattel (Fisher-Price, Barbie, Thomas & Friends, etc). When my kiddo shouts, “Mommy! I need a bum bum wipe!” my duty is to get to that doodie ASAP. Ah, parenthood...is there anything more humbling? Someday, my kids might think it’s cool that I wrote for old-school magazines (!) and interviewed celebrities (!!) and lived in NYC for 15 years (!!!). But for now, I’m proud I get to read my silly little children’s book to them any time they ask. Or any book for that matter because books are magic!


I wrote...

The Poopy Pants Dance

By Christie Griffin Authier, Emily Wetterich (illustrator),

Book cover of The Poopy Pants Dance

What is my book about?

Going potty is an evolving journey for children—and it all starts with some wiggles while they’re still in diapers. My board book, The Poopy Pants Dance, is a cheeky read for both parents and their kiddos. It’s about how babies and toddlers often have funny dance-like moves when their diapers are extra dirty. From the hustle to the cha-cha, each scenario features a new dancing baby that will make you and your kiddo giggle. 

The Poopy Pants Dance has both rhyming and repetition, which have been proven to help children develop early literacy skills and make important brain connections. Fair warning, though: Numerous parents have told me their children love parroting “poopy pants dance,” particularly in public.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

By Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault, Lois Ehlert (illustrator)

Book cover of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

New parents are likely to need a little practice reading aloud, especially to an unseen audience. A perfect choice for your first-time read-aloud experience is the whimsical rhyming alphabet book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. In a simple, catchy tempo it describes the antics of the personified letters of the alphabet—great fun to read aloud! This story has all the qualities that babies in utero respond to rhythm, repetition, and rhyme. Once baby arrives, this rousing, romping tale will have your little one wriggling and cooing to the familiar beat! 

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

By Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault, Lois Ehlert (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Chicka Chicka Boom Boom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Synopsis coming soon.......

Who are we?

Did you know that babies can already hear and remember elements of language during pregnancy? Belly Books were inspired by abundant scientific evidence showing the profound benefits of prenatal reading for family bonding and children’s language and learning. These beautiful board books are uniquely shaped to curve over the growing baby bump, and specially written for expectant parents to bond with their baby in the womb while practicing the art of reading aloud. We are a literacy specialist and an editor who are dedicated to helping parents experience the amazing power of prenatal family storytime. Our blog, The Reading Womb, has been spreading the message everywhere: It’s never too early to read to your baby! 


We wrote...

Can't Wait to Show You

By Jacqueline Boyle, Susan Lupone Stonis, Laura Horton (illustrator)

Book cover of Can't Wait to Show You

What is our book about?

It’s never too early to read to your baby! This specially curved book fits perfectly around your baby bump or snuggles the baby on your lap. Celebrate the joy of new life, and bond with your baby-to-be, while laying the earliest foundation for your little one’s literacy and social development.

What makes Belly Books special? It's a truly unique baby shower gift: a sturdy board book perfect for frequent use from newborn to toddler ages, with beautiful illustrations and a touching story to share with children at any stage.

Alphabet

By Inger Christensen, Susanna Nied (translator),

Book cover of Alphabet

It’s maybe inaccurate to describe this (not too) long poem as a society grappling with the aftermath of a war. There isn’t much grappling to be done, and it only partly exists after a war is through, to the extent a war like the one Christensen describes is ever through once it’s been started. It’s instead a litany of loss, of those things that can’t be reclaimed, which should instead be protected through the avoidance of war.

Alphabet

By Inger Christensen, Susanna Nied (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Alphabet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Awarded the American-Scandinavian PEN Translation Prize by Michael Hamburger, Susanna Nied's translation of alphabet introduces Inger Christensen's poetry to US readers for the first time. Born in 1935, Inger Christensen is Denmark's best known poet. Her award-winning alphabet is based structurally on Fibonacci's sequence (a mathematical sequence in which each number is the sum of the two previous numbers), in combination with the alphabet. The gorgeous poetry herein reflects a complex philosophical background, yet has a visionary quality, discovering the metaphysical in the simple stuff of everyday life. In alphabet, Christensen creates a framework of psalm-like forms that unfold like…

Who am I?

Before I started writing, my understanding of war largely came about through its manifestation over subsequent decades in individuals. My grandfather selectively shared stories from his time as a bomber, then as a POW in Germany. Maybe it was this conjunction, a personal sense of rebuilding and of storytelling, that has driven my interest in the subject over these years, as a journalist and critic and then as an author of a book on the subject.


I wrote...

Sprinting Through No Man's Land: Endurance, Tragedy, and Rebirth in the 1919 Tour de France

By Adin Dobkin,

Book cover of Sprinting Through No Man's Land: Endurance, Tragedy, and Rebirth in the 1919 Tour de France

What is my book about?

Sprinting Through No Man’s Land follows the cyclists of the 1919 Tour de France, which traversed the border of the eponymous country just seven months after the end of World War I. The book examines the devastating landscape the cyclists encountered, oftentimes just after hanging up their military uniforms. It also looks at the various forms of rebuilding that existed after the end of a devastating war: the social, political, and economic. More than a race, the Tour was a cultural event and a political one, and the 1919 race took on an added measure of remembrance and rebirth arriving so soon after the end of WWI.

The Alphabet Man

By Richard Grossman,

Book cover of The Alphabet Man

Grossman achieves something remarkable in The Alphabet Man. The work manages to weave together visual, avant-garde graphic design, literary poetry, and a suspenseful thrilling plot. The book itself is gorgeous to look at it, and the text layout is designed as a work of art. Grossman seamlessly blends these disparate elements into a unified, unique creation that breaks the boundaries of what a novel can be. 

The Alphabet Man

By Richard Grossman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Alphabet Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

As a writer, artist, and actor throughout my life, I’ve explored and enjoyed many artistic forms. While I appreciate books across many genres, I elevate to the highest level those works that manage to break conventional boundaries and create something original. In my own work, I have always challenged myself to create something unique with a medium that has never been done before. At the same time, I have sought to discover a process and resulting work that inspires readers’ own creativity and challenges them to expand their imagination. 


I wrote...

A Greater Monster

By David David Katzman,

Book cover of A Greater Monster

What is my book about?

A psychedelic fairytale for the modern age, A Greater Monster is a mind-bending poetic trip into a radically twisted alternate reality that reflects civilization like a funhouse mirror. A Greater Monster crosses boundaries with illustrations, graphic design, and hidden links to animation and original music. Throughout the experience, you'll encounter sphinxes, gods, living skeletons, witches, and quite possibly the strangest circus ever imagined. Innovative and astonishing, A Greater Monster breathes new life into the possibilities of fiction. Received a Gold Medal as Outstanding Book of the Year in the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards.

“I can't express how brilliant my favorite scenes in A Greater Monster are. In this extraordinary work, Katzman pushes language to do things, which are truly astounding.” Carra Stratton, Editor, Starcherone Press

B Is for Boo

By Greg Paprocki (illustrator),

Book cover of B Is for Boo: A Halloween Alphabet

It might be unusual to choose an alphabet book intended for babies and toddlers in a selection of Halloween books, but the art in this book and others in this series is worth collecting, even if you don’t have little ones to share the book with. There have been a lot of little ones reading books on my lap over the years, both my own children and now grandchildren, and I’ve learned that there are certain favorites that I might as well keep close at hand rather than shelve in the hallway with the other picture books. A few years ago I stumbled across B Is for Boo, and I loved the illustrations so much that I have collected nearly a dozen more books in Greg Paprocki’s series of alphabet books. The illustration style might best be described as “retro,” and whether readers grew up in the 1960s like…

B Is for Boo

By Greg Paprocki (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked B Is for Boo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

The world opened to me in a safe space when I learned to read as a child, and by 6th grade, inspired by Jo March, I hoped to be an author and regularly hauled stacks of books home from the library. I had put aside my dream of writing until my marriage to Mark Buehner. It was his career as an illustrator that opened up a path for me, and together we have created many picture books, including the Snowmen at Night series. I’ve learned that stories are told with pictures as well as words, and beautiful picture books can be savored at any age.


I wrote...

Snowmen at Halloween

By Caralyn M. Buehner, Mark E. Buehner (illustrator),

Book cover of Snowmen at Halloween

What is my book about?

The snowmen are getting their Halloween costumes ready for the latest picture book in this New York Times bestselling series.

Have you ever built a snowman and discovered the next day that his grin has gotten a little crooked, or his tree-branch arms have moved? And you’ve wondered... what do snowmen do when we’re not watching? After an early snowfall, a few kids build some snowmen before going trick-or-treating. And when the kids go off to bed, the snowmen have their own Halloween festival! There’s candy and apple-bobbing and costume contests and all sorts of autumn activities. When the kids wake up the next morning, the snowmen are gone… but they’ve left a very special message behind.

Alpha Beta Chowder

By Jeanne Steig, William Steig,

Book cover of Alpha Beta Chowder

Jeanne Steig wrote a giddy delightful poem for each letter of the alphabet. The poems are replete with weird and wonderful words. The goofy illustrations by William Steig tickle your eyes. One of my favorite poems is "Mishmash". Notice all of the many M words in Mishmash: mallet, misguided, minimize, mix, milk. Could Myron majestically mash potatoes? Mmmm, no.

Mishmash
Making mashed potatoes, Myron?
Must you mix them with the hammer?
This bizarre, misguided method
Causes quite a katzenjammer.

Might you add the milk and butter
In a more majestic manner?
Might a mallet not be better?
That would minimize the clamor.

Alpha Beta Chowder

By Jeanne Steig, William Steig,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Alpha Beta Chowder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Presents an alliterative humorous verse for each letter of the alphabet, including "The Enigmatic Egg," "Mishmash," and "Worrywart.".

Who am I?

I have been creating picture books for 30 years. Picture books are a combination of words and language - that’s what I am drawn to. I love vivid language and art that tells stories. I love wordplay and cornball puns. I savor a perfectly crafted sentence in proper English, but I am not a stickler for perfect grammar. I like slang, pig-latin, and mistakes. I enjoy the sound of languages that I know and that I don’t know. I hope that you enjoy all of these wordy books, including mine.


I wrote...

The Wordy Book

By Julie Paschkis,

Book cover of The Wordy Book

What is my book about?

This book is a collection of paintings made up of words upon words, all moving, interacting, and creating a visually stunning and wordy universe. Each page contains a question to be answered with the words that lie within. What happens when words and pictures coexist in such a way, bump into one another, are in constant conversation?

The Wordy Book is an invitation to play with language.

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