Baby & Toddler


10 Quirky Alphabet Books
With a Twist

by Iva-Marie Palmer

Picture books devoted to the ABCs should be a staple in any toddler or preschooler library; but just because the alphabet is a must-learn milestone doesn’t mean kids shouldn’t have fun with it. To build on more standard alphabet primers, try out one of these quirkier A-to-Z books and put a little whimsy into your child’s abecedarian efforts.

  • Once Upon an Alphabet

    by Oliver Jeffers

    No letter is left behind in Jeffers’ slightly odd and absurdly irresistible entry into the alphabet book field. Inside the 112-page book is a short story for each letter of the alphabet, complete with Jeffers’ signature drawings. And, while the entries can be read separately, older children might want to read the book cover to cover to notice all the clever interlinking Jeffers does between the stories.

  • Mr. Boddington's Studio: NYC ABCs

    by Mr. Boddington’s Studio

    You don’t have to ever have visited New York City to be familiar with some of its most famous sights or to be captivated by its many surprises. This board book — filled with art from Mr. Boddington’s Studio, a purveyor of whimsically designed stationary and prints – not only leads tots through the alphabet, but takes them on a mini-tour of one of the world’s greatest cities.

  • Animalphabet

    by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Sharon King Chai

    From Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo, comes this animal-laden alphabet adventure. Posing questions that lead kids through the alphabet (“What slithers better than a rabbit? A snake!”), the book is gloriously illustrated with brightly colored cut-paper scenes created by Sharon King Chai. Peekaboo spots to glimpse the next page keep even the most restless of young readers engaged.

  • Animalicious

    by Anna Dewdney, illustrated by Claudia Boldt

    The late, beloved author of the Llama Llama series, Anna Dewdney, knows a thing (or 26) about making the alphabet feel fresh and funny to a young reader. Playful combinations lead to all-new animals, like the Flatapus and the Elephantom. The clever wordplay, along with Reed Duncan’s playful illustrations, makes this entry in the ABC canon one capable of amusing even kids who know their alphabet quite well.

  • ABC Pasta

    by Juana Medina

    “Using your noodle” is quite an apt expression when it comes to this book. Aspiring chefs and alphabet lovers alike will love the lessons imparted by Juana Medina in this pasta-centric picture book. Young learners will work up an appetite viewing Medina’s artwork, which incorporates actual noodle types (from G’s gemelli to R’s rigatoni) into the drawings.

  • Alphabet City

    by Stephen Johnson

    This 1996 Caldecott Honor book has no words, but contains every letter in the form of Johnson’s brilliant and intricate pastel and watercolor artwork. The letter “E” appears in a traffic light viewed from the side, while zigzagging fire escapes form the letter “B.” In addition to teaching the alphabet, this book will inspire kids to look for amazing sights in the most quotidian surroundings.

  • An ABC of Flowers

    by Jutta Hilpuesch

    It’s hard not to be wooed by this book’s floral theme, as it offers readers a beautiful bouquet on their way from A to Z. Each letter is paired with its corresponding flower, and a tiny girl named Amelie guides little hands from page to page.

  • ABC Dream

    by Kim Krans

    With her ink-and-watercolor illustrations, author Kim Krans gives young readers a reason to pause on each page of this alphabetic adventure. Each of the ABCs is surrounded by (or comprised of) objects that start with that letter, giving kids a chance to linger on it as they name every item. The back of the book contains a guide to what alliterative objects can be found throughout. It’s as dreamy as the title suggests.

  • An Annoying ABC

    by Barbara Bottner, illustrated by Michael Emberley

    It’s hard to resist this hilarious romp through the alphabet by Bottner. In a classroom of 25 cranky preschool students and one really put-out teacher, every kid — from Adelaide to Stella to Winthrop — is misbehaving or has a problem. Beginning with a chain reaction of bad behavior (set off by Adelaide, of course), the day goes awry, but eventually turns around when Adelaide (gasp!) apologizes.

  • Owls are Good at Keeping Secrets

    by Sara O’Leary, illustrated by Jacob Grant

    With this book, author Sara O’Leary not only wants kids to learn their letters, but she wants to fill them in on some of the oddball “facts” of the animal kingdom, too. Each letter features an animal and a fresh revelation about the critter, too. For example, elephants love bath time, and dragons cry at happy endings. Kids will have a case of the giggles before you can get to the letter “G.”