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Our Favorite Alphabet Books: The Hunt for the Best ABC Books

A good ABC book is so helpful for teaching your child to recognize the alphabet, plus it’s endlessly fun to see all the different ways authors and illustrators interpret the ABCs. These are some of our very favorite alphabet books. 

abc books

Finding the right ABC books is tricky, isn’t it?

There are approximately one million alphabet books out there and so many of them are poorly written or deeply contrived (I know, I know – I should try to write my own ABC book and then talk about how bad some of them are).

But there are also some BRILLIANT abc books out there that are clever, interesting, and beautifully done.

These are eleven of our very favorite alphabet books that I hope you’ll love too!

alphabet books for preschoolers

Our Favorite Alphabet Books

Big Words for Little Geniuses by Susan Patterson and James Patterson, illustrated by Hsinping Pan
This ABC book is just plain fun (it’s the one in the photo above). Each page has a pretty advanced word, like “gobbledygook” or “juxtaposition” and then a fun definition for it. It was fun to read and it was fun for my girls too.

TouchThinkLearn: ABC by Xavier Deneux
This is the most spectacular ABC book you can imagine. It’s the size of a small picture book but has thick pages like a board book and each one has raised die-cut pieces that fit into mirroring cut-outs. This is the PERFECT baby gift.

The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC’s by Patrick McDonnell
I have a special place in my heart for Patrick McDonnell – his books are some of my favorite. And of course an ABC book by him doesn’t disappoint. This alphabet book is wordless and so you get to identify on each page how the next letter has been added. Overall, it adds up to a fun, sweet story that my girls adored (and so did I!)

alphabet books

LMNO Peas by Keith Baker
We are long time fans of this ABC book – I’ve been reading it with each of my girls since Ella was less than 2, and every one of them has been obsessed with it. Each page has a giant letter with dozens of little peas doing various things that relate to that letter, plus a tiny ladybug to find in each scene.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, illustrated by Lois Ehlert
Would you believe I didn’t read this classic alphabet book until I was a school librarian? I’d heard about it for years and when I finally picked it up, I realized what all the hype was about. It’s so catchy!

Creature ABC by Andrew Zuckerman
This is a stunning alphabet book with crisp photographs of each animal that corresponds with the letter of the alphabet. There’s also a glossary at the back with more details about each animal. My animal loving children are obsessed with this one.

A Long Piece of String by William Wondriska
This is a book from the sixties that was reprinted a few years ago. There are no words, just white and orange images, plus a long black piece of string that winds through the pages, connecting each item (which each start with the correct letter of the alphabet). It’s so clever and retro!

abc book

A Zeal of Zebras by Woop Studios
I’ve mentioned this one for years and it has remained a favorite. My girls love finding the letters “hidden” in each picture and there are also all the letters on the back cover, so you can practice or sing along.

Backseat A-B-See by Maria van Lieshout
This might be my all time favorite ABC book. Each page features a road sign and a large letter. The background of each page is shiny black, with road markings down the center of the book, and it’s perfect for little vehicle lovers. This is the book I credit with teaching Ella her alphabet.

Alphabeasties and Other Amazing Types by Sharon Werner and Sarah Forss
With an animal for each letter of the alphabet made entirely out of different fonts of that letter, this alphabet book is a spectacular feast for the eyes. I seriously never get tired of this one.

And if you’d like a printable copy of this list that you can take to your library or screenshot on your phone for easy access, just pop in your email address below and it’ll come right to your inbox!

 

What are your favorite ABC books? Did I miss any fantastic ones? Let me know in the comments!

If you liked this post about alphabet books, you might like these posts too:

alphabet book

Photos by Christie Knight Photography

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25 Comments

  1. I love the bold illustrations and the format of Alphablock! It’s possibly the most expensive board book I’ve ever come across, but I do love it. (Though I didn’t buy it full price!) Teagan White’s Adventures with Barefoot Critters is GORGEOUS – and the story goes through the alphabet as well as the seasons of the year (and it rhymes) — all her books are fantastic!

  2. R is for Robot: A Noisy Alphabet by Adam F. Watkins is great! It’s all onomatopoeia and I think it’s so unique. There are also sort of Easter eggs hidden in each illustration. For example: On the C page there are the sounds clang, crash, etc. but there is also a clover in the illustration. So that was fun for my 5 year old and myself to hunt for on each page while my 2 year olds enjoyed it on its’ more surface auditory level.

  3. Animalia is one we love in this house. The illustrations are amazing and the wording is clever. Graeme Base is very talented. I agree that good ABC books are hard to find, and a treasure when they are good!

  4. Hello to you! I am the author and illustrator of 2 alphabetical adventures that I believe could be in this list. “If Nobody Reads Nobody Listens” is about animals and “Nobody Cooks Books” is about food. Every word starts with the letter celebrated on each page. Led by my colorful characters called Nobody (because they have no body)readers get tongue twisted at times while enjoying a silly experience through the ABC’s.

  5. We’re all about the silly ABC books, especially A is for Salad by Mike Lester and A is for Another Rabbit by Hannah Batsel. Both have great illustrations and funny text. They’re especially fun with kids who know their alphabet and are just beginning to read so they can follow the word play. I also love Kipper’s A to Z. It’s more sweet than silly, but it’s another one that I can read aloud repeatedly.

    1. Yes, I was coming on here to recommend Bear is Awake as well. I love that it tells a story that makes sense. I have been an early elementary teacher and a reading specialist and read sooo many ABC books and this is one of my favorites.

  6. All good books, but you’ve got to include Alligators All Around by Sendak (Especially if you have the Carole King music to go with it!) and A Little Alphabet by Trina Schart Hyman with its beautiful alphabet-infested borders. and Q is for Duck and…

  7. Thanks for putting together this helpful resource. I am surprised I am the first to mention the range of titles from Alphabet Legends. I (66 years of age) was given a copy of their Beatles Alphabet for Christmas and was blown away. It was a delightful celebration of their iconic songs in a beautifully illustrated alphabet book. Who would have though alphabets for adults would be a thing. It has been a great way for me to bond with my young grand daughter that shares my passion for music and art. I have now converted her into a life long Beatles fan and we have added two other titles to the collection: Guitar Legends and Drum Legends. I paid my daughter back with a copy of Fashion Legends. They have dozens of other fun titles to checkout also. A nice addition to some of the classics you have covered above.

  8. I am soooooo excited to see a post about this! I decided about 15 years ago that ABC books were what I wanted to collect in my lifetime! My ABSOLUTE favorite ABC books are those published by a small print house in southern Michigan (about a 1/2 hour from where I live) called Sleeping Bear Press. They started out making books for every state such as M is for Mitten (a Michigan alphabet). They have expanded to many other topics. I recently bought S is for S’mores (a camping alphabet) and S is for Sea Glass (a beach alphabet). I love these books because they contain both artwork and content that appeals to all ages. There is a simple line in verse for each letter, but a longer bit on a sidebar that gives much more information so you really learn something. This allows these books to grow along with your kids.

    1. You should check out this new adorable book A bee sees the ABCs. It is so pretty and classic like the Very Hungry Caterpillar.

  9. Jerry Palotta’s alphabet books on numerous subjects are classics for the older child and The Z was Zapped by Chris van Allsburg was literally read to shreds in my elementary school in the 90’s. It appears we all have our own ideas about what makes an ABC book memorable which accounts for the numbers of them that are published and remain in print.

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