Monday, November 2, 2009

Alphabet Week -- 5 Days of Great Alphabet Books, Day 1

I used to really loathe alphabet books. Generally, they're harder to read than other picture books, and seldom do they have anything that really passes for a story. Often they're just random words that happen to begin with the appropriate letter. However, there have been a few, a very few, that were really head and shoulders above the crowd. One of these is I Spy Little Letters.

Many kids have enjoyed the I Spy series and its sister books, the Little I Spy board books and early readers. This is a board book that is especially good not just for learning the alphabet, but for teaching letter recognition.

If you have a 3, 4 or 5 year old who is beginning to recognize specific letters, this is a great resource. All the text is in riddle form, with clues about the letters that children can then solve by identifying the correct letter: "I spy letters/On a big red A" and the A is red and covered with letters. As the child identifies it, she reinforces her understanding of what an uppercase A should look like. All the letters have some clearly distinguishing (and alphabetic) feature -- S might be covered with sand, G with glitter, B with balloons, and so on.

Most importantly, the letters in this board book are LARGE -- a good 1.5-2 inches tall by my measure. This makes it much easier for little eyes to perceive the differences in shapes. The photography, like all the little I Spy books, is bright and clear and appealing to kids and the riddles make a game out of learning to recognize letters. Rather than just throwing letters and words at them and hoping they'll assimilate the information, this book gets them to interact with the text, increasing the chances that they'll remember what they've read and transfer it to other situations.

It's a great choice for preschool-aged kids.

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