How to get started with the alphabet

 Our selection of four alphabet primers to familiarize children with letters and words.

They are one of the oldest genres for youth. "The alphabet primer is a small book for children learning to read, containing the alphabet," says the National Library of France. In reality, they are much more than that. And not just for the youngest. Modern-day alphabet primers use the alphabet to play with words and with each of the 20 consonants and 6 vowels. A nice way to start your love story with letters. Ballade through 4 colorful albums.

Contemporary heroines


Each letter is a small character. The A plays on his status as the first to take himself for the leader. E is a "boring, annoying, poisonous" letter! Sometimes you can hear it, sometimes it is silent. Sometimes she goes bare-headed, sometimes she puts on a hat." The I is a little slut, the thug of the alphabet. Just think, he's "stupid, foolish, incapable, vile, rude," and what do I know! The N is "picked up on himself, arms around his knees", he holds himself back so as not to cry and then ends up saying "NO!".

Bernard Friot plays with the shape of the letter, its sound. His texts are in turn funny or tragic, delirious or absurd, in the form of small dialogues or prose poems. One does not get tired of it. Better still, he makes you want to write and imagine your own texts.

"A la lettre, un alphabet poétique", Bernard Friot and Jean-François Martin, ed. Milan, 64 pages, 18 euros. Published on March 9. From 8 years old.

26 amazing stopovers

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The letters of our alphabet are tirelessly busy composing the words that in turn make up the stories. With his pencil drawings and absurd humor, Oliver Jeffers has decided to turn things upside down and give each letter a story. Each letter is associated with a word that becomes the starting point for an adventure. The J is dedicated to "gelled juice", the P to "perplexed parsnips" (those ancient vegetables with the false air of carrots) which "are not renowned for their intelligence". Some stories are answered, like the N, which gives the result of the E of the riddle "How many elephants can you fit in an envelope?". Keep your eyes open!

"Once upon a time there was an alphabet", Oliver Jeffers, ed. Kaleidoscope, 120 pages, 19 euros. From 6 years old.

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A dive into the action

There is the alphabet book which simply lists objects. "L'abécéfaire" (an album from Argentina that won an award in 2015 at the Bologna Fair, the world fair for children's books) is the image of action verbs. Each letter calls for a verb that is used in several scenes of daily life. E as in Writing is transformed into seven scenes where characters with long arms and round heads write on a sign, in Chinese, Arabic, music... A O as in Opening, you open your mouth, your ears, a gift or your mail. A beautiful way to get to know letters by Questioning (letter Q) and Imagining (letter I) "the world upside down" or "that anything is possible".

"L'abécéfaire, l'abécédaire qui fait bouger les mots", texts by Ruth Kaufman and Raquel Franco, illustrations by Diego Banki, éd. Rue du Monde, 40 pages, 18 euros. From 4 years old.

Seeks and finds giant


On each double page of this large, brightly colored album, there is a list of words that begin with the same letter (arranged alphabetically like a dictionary). A heterogeneous assembly where dahlia rubs shoulders with demon, tooth, dromedary, two and dynamite; where the quetzal follows the quetsche, where the ukulele precedes the unau. An opportunity to discover new words, including for the parents (for info, the unau is the other name of the sloth, this animal of the rainforests of tropical America that moves slowly from branch to branch). And on the left page, there is a huge letter made up of all these words where strange little beasts and unusual objects are intermingled in abracadabrantesque positions. A flamboyant alphabet primer to start a crazy game of search and find.

"ABC", Marion Arbona, éd. Le buveur d'encre, 56 pages, 19,90 euros. From 2 years old.

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