The Letters in My Neighborhood

 ABCs All Around Me

Inspired by Oliver’s alphabet birthday theme, I am embarking on a new “I spy with my little eye” (or i) adventure of finding all 26 letters in my environmental surroundings. Actually, I’ve wanted to do this for a long long time, ever since discovering Stephen T. Johnson’s unique book, Alphabet City.

Johnson captures each letter of the alphabet as it occurs naturally in the urban setting of New York City. I tried to do the same in park trails and forests but with only limited success.


So, I expanded my surroundings and now I am working on finishing this project.


As a teacher, librarian, organizer, filer, writer, reader, children’s book collector, and now Grammy L, the alphabet has served me well. So, it is no surprise that ABC books have always delighted me with their simple concept represented in creative and colorful ways… from alliteration to zany rhymes.

Some of my other favorite titles include:

A My Name  is Alice by Jane Bayer and illustrated by Steven Kellogg…

This clapping beat and jump rope chant is alliterative … A my name is Alice and my husband’s name is Andy and we come from Alabama and we sell apples

Alligators All Around written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak…

Another simple yet awesome alphabet account abounding with alliteration.

This gang of green gators brings giggles entertaining elephants, having headaches, and making macaroni… (Amazon editorial review by Emilie Coulter)

Of course Dr. Seuss’s ABCs is an amazing alliterative alphabet book with rhythm and zany rhymes!

And a perfectly pitched predictable pattern… “Big  O little o, What begins with O?”

Old Black Fly by Jim Aylesworth and illustrated by Stephen Gammell…

The following refrain repeats throughout this rhyming alliterative romp of a feisty fly wreaking havoc in 26 different ways one day:

Shoo fly! Shoo fly! Shooo

The Handmade Alphabet by Laura Rankin…

Each letter of the alphabet is represented by the corresponding hand-shape of American Sign Language holding a familiar object  starting with that letter.

Q is for Duck by Mary Elting and Michael Folsom, illustrated by Jack Kent…

Why? Because a duck quacks.

This alphabet guessing game promotes critical thinking while learning about some basic animal facts. It’s just clever and fun!

Tomorrow’s Alphabet by George Shannon and illustrated by Donald Crews…

A is for Seed, B is for Eggs, C is for Milk… The seed is tomorrow’s Apple, the eggs are tomorrow’s Birds, the milk is tomorrow’s Cheese. This clever book emphasizes future possibilities depicted with realistic full-page illustrations.

Alphabeasties and Other AmaZing Types by Sharon Werner and illustrated by Sarah Nelson Forss…

Each illustration is creatively and realistically designed in typography using the first letter in the animal’s name. Werner and Forss are graphic designers at Werner Design Werks in Minneapolis and the creators of this children’s book about typography. Their website describes Alphabeasties to a T (get it? Groan…)

Blocky or small, thick or tall. Roundish, slopey, fancy or dopey. Letters look different in all different places, that’s because they have different typefaces.

But my very favorite ABC book of all is The Z Was Zapped by Chris Van Allsburg!

Karen K. Radtke from the Milwaukee Public Library wrote the following review for School Library Journal:

…an alphabetical morality play in 26 acts. Each sculptured letter is the subject in an action-packed tableau enacted on a sedately curtained stage. Here is a preview of coming attractions. A was in an Avalanche, B was Badly Bitten, C was Cut to ribbons. Children can try to guess what action has occurred, thereby increasing their vocabulary and the fun, or they can turn the page and read the text, or better yet do both. This clever romp resembles old vaudeville theater with one curious act following the next. The Y is even yanked offstage by a crook. …While the younger crowd may be able to guess some of the verbs that Van Allsburg illustrates, this is more an alphabet book for older children, who will enjoy guessing what heinous act is being foisted.

Can you guess what happened to E and G?

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