Teaching the Alphabet

Amy Rees
March 15, 2016

Igniting a love of reading involves both the tales that a good book spins and the construction of those tales. And the alphabet is of course the first tool of your little language builder. How best to learn that delightful (and delightfully arbitrary) set of 26? 

Here are our tried-and-true ideas:

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

This book is a widely-loved modern classic, frequently—and properly, we think—cited as the very best, very first place to start for leading your child through the alphabet. It is bright and tropical, with a rhyme that has a calypso beat to it that kids (and their parents simply adore). We all have so many stories of little ones whose faces simply light up at the sight of the book—there's something about the hot pink and orange and green color scheme and the silly antics of nutty lowercase letters or the fantastic rhyming cadence that tells the wise early preschooler that this is book she wants to hear again and again (and again and again). 


This astounding book is one of those rare treats that works well for kids aged 2, 5, 10 or 40. Each page is a minutely detailed, gorgeously drawn visual puzzle based around a letter of the alphabet. There is an alliterative heading, written almost tongue-twister style, such as "Crafty Crimson Cats Carefully Catching Crusty Crayfish" or "Lazy Lions Lounging In The Local Library." Then the page is filled with literally dozens and dozens of other seemingly unrelated objects, until—aha!—you realize that the names of every one of those tiny things begins with the same letter. The detail is endless, and endlessly charming - on the L page, the lions are looking at books titled "Lassie Come Home," "Let's Learn Latin" and "Life in Luxembourg" and on the D page, the dragons are dining on delicacies of dates and doughnuts. It's just delicious. We could go on and on—Base certainly does. It's witty and great for parents but accessible and amazing for kids. A true classic.

Here Come the ABCs

This album, originally released as an audio CD and now available as a DVD with puppets singing along, is a fantastic break from traditional "kid music." The alphabet is clearly just the springboard for the band, as they riff both musically and lyrically on the letters and end up on a wonderful, winding path through upbeat, ballad, country and electronic/funk music. The songs are catchy without being annoying, and it is one of the few CDs that you won't dread your little one asking for in the car. For the tenth time in a row.

LeapFrog Letter Factory

Some kids are bound and determined to learn things all on their own, and the more they sense that you, their well-intentioned parents, are trying to teach them something as you chat, the more they resist. Got one of those? We're here to help. And frankly, even if you've got one of the more amenable kids on the block, sometimes we all have to turn to an outside source for either teaching or reinforcement. These videos are amazingly effective in teaching the hard part about letters—the sounds they make and how they fit together to make words.

The Savvy Source is an Amazon affiliate.


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