It’s that time of the year where my primary friends are looking for new books to help support the introduction of letters and numbers for their enthusiastic young readers. Today I would like to bring your attention to some alphabet books that are not just for those primary readers but also could be used for Jillian Heisse’s creation classroom book a day (#CBAD) inspired by Donalyn Miller and in a variety of different curricular subjects.
One may think it is a simple alphabet story that could be used to introduce some of the letters of the alphabet and how letters are combined to make words but that’s not where Underwood’s and Hwang Ruiz’s brilliance lies. Instead this is a story using letters to show how we build walls and protect ourselves from others who may appear to be different than us. Furthermore it lets the reader know – all it takes is ONE individual to change all of that – in this case lower case h. All the capitols (which could be compared to adults) like things the way they – walls up, no change and content with the status quo. When lower case h discovers a hole in the wall and meets i they realize together they can create something special hi. Now threatened by the hole the H’s quickly repair it so they can continue on with their narrow minded views. Once h meets i however they become friends and miss one another and new ideas emerge and they find other letters. Now many letters are getting to know one another and create all kinds of new possibilities. Lots of layers to unpack and discuss with this recently released book.
Cross-curricular possibilities: Social Studies, English Language Arts and Health
Bear is Awake is a clever story that uses a few words to create a story. Suddenly Awake, a Big Bear sees a Cozy Cottage and rings the Doorbell and Enters and startles (eek!) a young girl. The girl and the bear become friends and spend the day together until the girl returns the bear to his den as it is far too early for the bear to be awake. So first off there are areas of science that readers could talk about; seasons, what animals do in winter, hibernation, weather and changes people deal with in winter.
This is not an A is for Apple type of alphabet book, readers are going to be introduced to words like intrigued, return and wistful – all words that either move the story along or tell us more about the characters. After looking at the meaning and the careful word choices for the book, one could individually, in a small or large group create their own few word alphabetical story. Very quickly readers will learn to appreciate the skill required to create such a story.
Finally, one can look at the design and illustrations and how it impacts the story, not to mention that this book is downright entertaining – older students will appreciate the humour and expressions on the characters.
Cross-curricular possibilities: Science, English Language Arts and Arts Education
Readers who are fortunate enough to visit these two books are going to get a bird’s eye or technically a satellite view of the earth and other planets and components in space. The images from The Alphabet From the Sky are courtesy from the public domain from the United States Geological Survey, National Geospatial Program and so is American based BUT that just opens the door to expand on this idea to other countries on the planet. The authors of the book created a program for satellites to look for letters in the alphabet so one could explore coding. Readers could also explore using Google Earth to see if they can spot various letters or something different such as numbers or different shapes. One could also look for those same alphabets, numbers and shapes around the neighbourhood or city. Readers could look closer at the images look at city planning and how neighbourhoods are created and look at how the land and climate influences the design.
In ABCs from Space, readers could learn the different terms and discover if the letter shape can be found elsewhere or if something specific caused the shape. This book is wordless so for older readers, it may spark questions and an inquiry into the image or they could add a small portion of text to the image.
Both books use photography so readers could analyze what makes a good photograph and perhaps shoot their own photos from a neighborhood walk.
Cross-curricular possibilities: Science, Geography, Photography and Coding
These are just four books that can be used in a vairtiey of different ways to inspire and engage students beyond sharing with younger readers.
Please add your alphabet books that you like to use in a variety of ways in the comments