How can picture books help your child learn the alphabet?
Alphabet-themed picture books are engaging, simple read-aloud stories for your child that are quick reads. The words authors choose have easy-to-pronounce words and terms that your child will incorporate through repetition easily into their daily vocabulary. Children learn through repetition and play. So seeing letters of the alphabet in books, charts, art projects, sensory bins, puzzles, and toys all combine to give multiple opportunities for them to practice identifying letters.
How to use picture books to teach the alphabet to your child?
Read-aloud time is my favorite time as a teacher and a mom. There is something magical about sitting with your child and seeing their excitement and joy from flipping pages in a story.
We like to read in our reading area of the playroom with bookshelves and pillows, but any area your child is comfortable works best.
I like to sing the ABCs with my children before we read alphabet books. Then I read through the book at a normal pace, pausing only a few times if my child asks a question. Then I read the book a second time, and we read it slower and notice more details in the book. I let my children point to pictures and talk about how the word connects to the letter on the page.
My favorite materials I use with alphabet books are small pointers (I made ours) and Hear Myself Phones from Lakeshore Learning that students used in my classroom for fluency practice.
What types of books are best for my child’s age and development?
Alphabet books are not all the same. Some are interactive with flips, flaps, and textures. Other books are themed and focus on animals, places, or even food. Then there are the simple alphabet books that mix people, places, and things to focus on the alphabet sounds.
My favorite type of alphabet books for my preschooler are stories with the alphabet within the story. For example, Alphabet Adventure by Audrey Wood. This book is about Charlie’s alphabet that is on summer vacation. This book has incredible illustrations and is perfect for your child to stay engaged while searching for letters in the book.
The lists below will hopefully help you find the perfect alphabet books for your little one. I’m an Amazon Associate, so I earn from qualifying purchases through the links below.
Interactive Baby & Toddler Alphabet Books
Alphablock by Christopher Franceschelli
Every letter has an illustration and a letter shape page that blends in with the pictures. This camouflage of the letter is perfect for predicting for your little one what letter comes next in the book.
Touch and Feel ABC Books by Scholastic
There are so many versions of these books. Your child will quickly go through the alphabet with a letter, image, and some element that can be touched or flipped. The different textures found on each page are perfect sensory play for your baby. These books usually end or begin with an ABC chart. I like to sing the ABCs before and after reading with my children to reinforce the alphabet. This book is our go-to for that practice.
26 Letters 99 Cents by Tana Hoban
This book was my favorite alphabet book when I was a child. This book is great for practicing letter name and sound identification with each letter. The book also flips to include a counting book. The illustrations are simple and effective.
Animal Themed Alphabet Books for Toddler & Preschoolers
Creature by Andrew Zuckerman
I love the photographs in this book! The photos zoom in close on part of the animal for the first page of a letter in the alphabet. Then the next page includes the animal’s name related to the letter from the previous page with a zoomed-out photo of the animal. For example, an elephant’s foot is the visual for the letter E page. Then you turn the page and see an open-mouthed elephant.
ABC Animals! A Scanimation Picture Book by Rufus Butler Seder
This book is one of my daughter’s favorite books since she was a baby. She loved flipping the pages slowly, then quicker back and forth to watch the animals move and run with each turn of the page.
National Geographic Little Kids African Animal Alphabet by Beverly and Derek Joubert
This book’s authors did a fantastic job trying to creatively use as many words per page that match the page’s letter. The book starts with an introduction page that gives you an idea to have your child count words that begin with the page’s letter. The photographs have incredible details that your child will be mesmerized looking at while they learn about animals and letters simultaneously.
A Isn’t for Fox An Isn’t Alphabet by Wendy Ulmer and Illustrated by Laura Knorr
The rhymes in this book are hilariously clever and different from regular alphabet-themed books. Your child will love the funny illustrations that showcase the author’s impeccable word choice beautifully! Other animals are found on each page as the story explains non-examples and real examples for each letter in the alphabet.
Into the A, B, Sea An Ocean Alphabet by Deborah Lee Rose pictures by Steve Jenkins
The creatively written rhymes in this book are further enhanced by the innovative pictures that match the text seamlessly. The word choice is excellent, especially for an alphabet book, which sometimes is basic for younger readers. This one is more challenging, giving you a perfect opportunity to pause and talk about meanings of words, using the illustrations to help support learning new words.
Simple, Creative, and Effective Alphabet Books for Preschool and Kindergartners
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.
This story is an all-time favorite book for learning ABCs. The sound words, rhyme, and repetition of “chicka chicka boom boom, where there be enough room” is a delight for children. I also love that this book includes lowercase and capital letters. If you get only one book, I would recommend this book above the others. But Alphabet Adventure is a close second!
The follow-up book Chicka Chicka 1,2,3 is equally incredible. We used this book to practice numbers 0-20. This book includes 0-100 in a funny rhyme. The pattern of this book is similar to Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.
If Rocks Could Sing A Discovered Alphabet by Leslie McGuirk
The inside cover explains that the inspiration for this book came from finding rocks on the beach. In this book, stones show the shape of letters and the shape of the word they represent. For example, d is for a dog, and a dog-shaped rock has a red collar. This book is incredibly creative. It will let your child’s creativity come alive! (ONE OF MY FAVORITES!)
LMNO Peas by Keith Baker
This creative book has little green peas explaining all the things they are through the alphabet from A to Z. Your child will love the playful illustrations and whimsical colors on each page.
ABC Dance! An Animal Alphabet by Sandra Moyle pictures by Eunice Moyle
My daughter’s new favorite book is Sloth and Smell the Roses by these same writers! Your child will LOVE this book! The pops of bright colors and unique word choice make this a hit with children! We love this book!
Oops Pounce Quick Run! An Alphabet Caper by Mike Twohy
This funny, creatively illustrated story follows a mouse as it is chased around by a dog. This book includes excellent sound words. I love how easily your child’s creativity expands the word for the page into a sentence for each page to describe the drawings’ scene.
The Alphabet from the Sky by Benedikt Grob & Joey Lee
I love the photographs in this book! Aerial pictures from around America are on each page that asks you to find a specific letter from the photo. There is also a map that shows you the location of the image. The back of the book includes additional searches for more letters. Your child will love searching through the pages for letters as much as you!
Dr. Seuss’s ABC by Dr. Seuss
Each page describes a letter in the alphabet with multiple word examples for this letter. It makes practicing the sounds of each letter easy for the entire alphabet. Your child will love seeing illustrations they already love from Dr. Seuss in this book.
Stories That Include the Alphabet for Preschool and Kindergarten Children
Below are my favorite books to use when practicing the alphabet with my kids.
Alphabet Adventure by Audrey Wood Illustrated by Bruce Wood
I LOVE THIS BOOK! Audrey Wood is my all-time favorite children’s book author! This series is excellent for reading with your child multiple times and pointing out different elements in the illustrations and story. Audrey Wood and her son Bruce Wood also created Alphabet Rescue and Alphabet Mystery which are excellent books to practice learning the alphabet.
Alphabet Rescue by Audrey Wood
This book is about lowercase letters are too little to help the capital letters put out fires, yet these letters show that size isn’t everything. This book is precious! I love Audrey Wood’s word choice! It is perfect for teaching alphabet sounds and focusing mini-lessons on “ex” words and the letter F words in this book.
Alpha Oops! The Day Z Went First by Aletha Kontis Illustrated by Bob Kolar
This story is one of my favorite alphabet books! The humor in this book is perfect for your child! They will enjoy this funny story about saying the alphabet out of order. The bottom of each page shows the alphabet and how it has changed as the story continues. The illustrations are bright and cheerful.
G is for Goat by Patricia Polacco
I LOVE PATRICIA POLACCO BOOKS! I start with an author’s study of her books every year in the classroom. I especially love Thank You, Mr. Falker. This book is illustrated in the signature Patricia Polacco style that is engaging to children of all ages. They will fall in love with her playful story about goats while learning the ABCs simultaneously. The rhymes transition from one letter to the next as the story progresses.
Old Black Fly by Jim Aylesworth Illustrated by Stephen Gammell
The illustrations in this book are incredible! I love the colors and characters that will have your kids laughing. The story follows a family and a fly that annoys them as it flies through the house. Each page has a different letter it focuses on in bold, colorful font. The rhyme and rhythm are perfect for your older toddler or preschooler to follow along.
R is for Rocket, an ABC Book by Tad Hills
A dog plays with his friends that move the story along through the alphabet. Each page has it’s own letter focused as the story progresses as Rocket enjoys activities in different settings.
Shiver Me Letters A Pirate ABC by June Sobel illustrated by Henry Cole
Your little beginning reader will love to discover all the letters in the alphabet on a treasure island hunt with a captain and his crew. The illustrations are playful with bold and cheerful colors. Hidden letters on each page make for a fun scavenger hunt for your child while you read the page and they point to the letter they find.
SNEAK PEAK of my next blog about Alphabet activities with books
I love reading books with my children almost as much as I love creating activities to go with the books! As a teacher for a decade, I have plenty of ideas for grades 3-5 activities. But it has been so much fun the last four years creating early education activities for my children at home. Here are just a few samples of some activities I would recommend with the above books. I’ll update the blog soon with an article about all the Alphabet activities I use with my children at home.
- Snowflake Decoding Practice for Short Vowel Word ActivitiesThese letter cards are used daily for the first few minutes of reading instruction in January and February. Then, I print, laminate, and cut each card out for prep. I have used similar cards since August so that children will understand the activity by January. This month, we added blends to build CVC words and …
- Color Explosion Book Activities We LOVE the book Fluffy McWhiskers Cuteness Explosion by Stephen W. Martin and Dan Tavis! My kids started asking me to read this to them nightly, and one night they came up with a plan to make an entire day devoted to color explosions like in the book. It was a great day for the …
- Word Family Activities and GamesWe have been working on learning CVC and word families this week. I tried coming up with some simple, fun games my kids can play independently to practice and feel more confident. I’ll be expanding the list of resources we have been using, but here are the word family activities and games we loved this …
- Activities Inspired by What If You Had Animal Eyes!? We continued our study of the five senses today using the book What If You Had Animal Eyes!? By Sandra Markle and illustrated by Howard McWilliam. Today’s read-aloud book inspired a lot of messy activities. We moved outside for most of them to allow the creativity to fly! Science Activities that relate to the Sense …
- Read Aloud with What If You Had Animal Ears!? Today’s book is called What If You Had Animal Ears!? Written by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Howard McWilliam. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but my kids were hooked on the image of a girl with koala ears and knew it would be a good book choice for today. We …