A to Z – Saturday Story Spotlight

Welcome to Saturday Story Spotlight, my feature where I discuss books my husband and I are reading with our son, Daniel. These are books that he, we, or all of us particularly enjoy.

A to Z by Sandra Boynton
Published by Little Simon, an imprint of Simon & Schuster

Generally on Saturday Story Spotlight I only talk about books that Daniel and (or) I love. Today, though, I’m going to talk about a book that really isn’t working for us at the moment, that I thought would be amazing.

Typically we love Sandra Boynton, but her alphabet book, A to Z, just does not work for my young toddler. Daniel loves letters (like really seriously loves them), and as such, he loves alphabet books. We read them incredibly frequently, because he’s in a phase where he wants to know words that start with each letter of the alphabet. A to Z starts out strong, with an aardvark admiring, an elephant eating, and some hippos hiding. Eventually, though, it gets to uglybirds being ugly and a xylo xylophoning. In between there is a vicuna violinning, salamanders singing, and iguanas itching.

Here’s the thing when we read alphabet books. Daniel want to say every letter and every THING before I can get to it. The salamanders and iguanas confuse him enough (he calls them all frogs), but the uglybirds and the xylo are invented animals. I love Boynton’s whimsy, but I think it goes a bit too far in this book; I’m all for quirky alphabet books, but complete inventions in an alphabet book that is clearly for young children – as evidenced by the board book format – seem overly confusing.

Not that A to Z is a bad book, per se. It is certainly fun to read, and might be appropriate for much younger children who are not trying to put phonemes to letters and words, and it might be appropriate for older children who have a firm enough grasp and are able to take things less literally, but it is not a good  book at the moment for my letter and language-obsessed child.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Personal copy
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5 comments to A to Z – Saturday Story Spotlight

  • I love Dr. Suess’s alphabet book – I used it last year with my third-grade students in English class and they loved making their own ABC books after we finished. It sounds like he’s better about using “reasonable” words than Boynton is here, but they were definitely thrown in a few places when he made up words to fit the needs of the book. There’s no way to translate these imaginary words into Albanian so I had to give up and leave my students kind of confused on some of them…so frustrating when they know some of the oddest words, like “zombie” for Z.

  • Adrienne

    I highly recommend Star Wars ABC!!

  • Liz

    I giggled when I read the “Vicuna’s Violinning” part. My mom bought my daughter (who is 21 months) a set of animal alphabet cards and V is Vicuna, X is Xantus (which I had to look up, it is a species of hummingbird found in Mexico), Y is Yellow-Billed Stork (what happened to something simpler, like Yak?). We speculate about the future day in school when they’ll be asked if they know any words that begin with the letter V and she proudly shouts out “Vicuna!”. :) Thank you, as always, for your honest and thoughtful reviews!

  • We’ve had the same problem with our son and several alphabet books. He’s three, now, and putting words together but when he was much younger, it was tough to do the obscure ABC books because he wanted to repeat or tell us what was on the page.