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Librarians’ List: 20 ABC Books for All Ages

museum abcWe’re celebrating Picture Book Month here at RedeemedReader! ABC Books are some of the most common picture books young children see, but there are many ABC books that delight older readers as well. Just as a teacher’s roster, the dictionary, a filing system use the alphabet as an organizing tool, so, too, do many clever authors and illustrators. Below are some ABC books that go beyond “A is for apple.” Some are funny, some are informative, and all are worth checking out.

Be sure to check out Megan’s post on how not to read a picture book so that you’ll get the most out of these titles! Below the list is a link to a printable list that you can take to the library. Books are organized, um, alphabetically.

A Apple Pie by Grenady Spirin. Philomel, 2005. Age/interest level: 0-7.

  • Kate Greenaway’s famous classic (still worth finding!) is given a new representation in Spirin’s lush version. A classic rhyme set against old-fashioned looking illustrations, this is a great fit for Thanksgiving and harvest times!a is for musk ox

A is for Musk Ox by Erin Cabatingan and illustrated by Matthew Myers. Roaring Brook, 2012. Age/interest level: 5 and up.

  • Similar in concept to Z is for Moose, A is for Musk Ox invites readers to appreciate subtle humor and clever wordplay. A great example of organizing information around the alphabet, use this book to inspire students to create their own ABC book on a given topic.

Aardvarks, Disembark! by Ann Jonas. Puffin, 1990. Age/interest level: 4 and up.

  • A romp through many lesser known animals, including many who are extinct or endangered, who might have been on the ark. Information in the end matter includes pronunciation guide; extinct/endangered animals are noted.

Alphabet City by Stephen T. Johnson. Viking, 1995. Caldecott Honor. Age/interest level: all.alphabet city

  • Did you know that letters are lurking everywhere in plain sight? Johnson’s photography shows us just how many places we can find the ABC’s in a city. A fun jumping off point for finding objects anywhere!

Animalia by Grahame Baese. Harry Abrams, 1986. Age/interest level: 5 and up.

  • So much to see and find on each page of this interesting ABC book. Alliterative text accompanies pictures that, while ostensibly illustrating the text, also contain myriad hidden images that each begin with the letter in question.

Antics! by Cathi Hepworth. Putnam, 2003. Age/interest level: all.

  • Did you know there are 26 words–one for every letter, of course–that include “ant” in them? Clever and fun, this is a book for those who enjoy words.apple pie abc

Apple Pie ABC by Alison Murray. Disney-Hyperion, 2012. Age/interest level: all.

  • Bright, bold, simple illustrations provide humor alongside the deceptively simple text. Young children will enjoy the visuals, but grown-up readers–especially those who are dog lovers/owners–will enjoy the story being played out.

Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions by Margaret Musgrove and illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. Puffin, 1976. Caldecott Medal. Age/interest level: 5 and up.

  • The Dillons’ well-researched illustrations complement Musgrove’s text and show readers how diverse the peoples of Africa really are. Note the illustrators’ note at the front.

B is for Bethlehem: A Christmas Alphabet by Isabel Wilner and illustrated by Elisa Kleven. Dutton, 1990. Age/interest level: 4-8.

  • The real Christmas story is told using the alphabet as an organizing tool and accompanied by colorful, sparkling illustrations. A sweet addition to the usual Christmas story lineup and a clever use of an ABC book.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archembault and illustrated by Lois Ehlert. Beach Lane, 1989. Age/interest level: 0-4.

  • Most parents today who’ve just survived the 0-4 age range of their children can recite this book verbatim. Jaunty text begs to be read aloud, and simple, colorful illustrations capture the attention of the very young.eating the alphabet

Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert. HMH Books for Young Readers, 1989. Age/interest level: 0-5.

  • Upper and lower case letters star alongside fruits and vegetables in this bright, bold book. Ehlert’s books are also fun art-inspiration for young children since she uses media they can work with (i.e. paper collage).

Eric Carle’s ABC by Eric Carle. Grosset and Dunlap, 1999. Age/interest level: 0-4.

  • Fans of Eric Carle’s books will enjoy this ABC book that groups a number of his familiar animals in one book. Lots of white space and clear letters and animal images make this suitable for the very young.

Gone Wild: An Endangered Alphabet by David McLimans. Walker Childrens, 2006. Caldecott Honor. Age/interest level: 5 and up.gone wild

  • The alphabet becomes both the organizing tool as well as an integral part of each animal’s abstract illustration in this unique book. In addition to pictorial representations of endangered animals, text boxes on each page provide succinct facts (class, habitat, etc.) while end matter contains more information.

Gyo Fujikawa’s A to Z Picture Book by Gyo Fujikawa. Sterling, 2010 (reprint of older title). Age/interest level: 0-4.

  • This book is full of charming children engaging in various activities related to the given letter. This is a book children enjoy studying in quiet times. Note that one spread contains images connected to Halloween.

LMNO Peas by Keith Baker. Beach Lane, 2010. Age/interest level: 0-7.lmno peas

  • Silly green peas cavort and frolic on every page, performing the very activity the text describes. Lots to look at and see, this is a fun book for those just learning letter sounds.

Museum ABC by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Little, Brown, 2002. Age/interest level: all

  • Combining great art with the ABC’s, this is a book that instructs on many levels even while it’s beautiful to look at. Take it one step further and ask children on their next art museum visit to find objects in the artwork that correspond to various letters.

The Other Colors: An ABC Book by Valerie Gates and photographed by Ann Cutting. Sky Pony Press, 2013. Age/interest level: 5 and up.

  • When children graduate out of the standard 8-color Crayola box and have a good grasp of beginning letter sounds, they (and their parents) will enjoy this representation of some of the more obscure colors of Creation and their equally obscure names.

Pigs from A to Z by Arthur Geisert. HMH Books, 1986. Age/interest level: 4 and up.pigs from a to z

  • Geisert’s detailed drawings cleverly hide letters as he shows seven pigs building a treehouse. Lots of fun for those who enjoy hidden pictures.

The Racecar Alphabet by Brian Floca. Atheneum, 2003. Age/interest level: Racecar fans of all ages.

  • Floca cleverly uses the alphabet as an organizing guide for a pictorial history of racecars accompanied by an alliterative text. Cars are presented from oldest (“A”) to newest (“Z”) and their numbers correspond to their letter’s placement in the alphabet. As usual, Floca gives even more information on the end papers.

Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinksy. Greenwillow, 2012. Age/interest level: ages 4-7.z is for moose

  • All readers can enjoy this book, but those who just mastered letter sounds and have already seen a plethora of “standard” ABC fare will especially enjoy Moose’s silly antics and his determination to be the center of attention.

Printable Librarians’ List: 20 ABC  Books for All Ages

What are YOUR favorite ABC Books? Please tell us in the comments.

We’ve just started our Picture Book Month celebration; make sure you read Megan’s post on Truth and Story in Picture Books and Janie’s on The Power of Pictures. But we’ve celebrated picture books all along. You might also be interested in our previous Librarians’ Lists on various topics, one of our previous Thanksgiving picture book posts, Veterans’ Day picture books, and an interview with graphic novelist Doug TenNapel on words and pictures.
Cover images from goodreads.
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