A-Z: Learning About the Alphabet Book Genre

K - 2
Lesson Plan Type
Estimated Time
Seven 20- to 30-minute sessions, at minimum
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This lesson exposes second-grade students to a variety of alphabet books to increase their knowledge and understanding of the genre. Students are involved in an interactive read-aloud of A My Name is Alice by Jane Bayers, during which they identify and examine the characteristics of alphabet books. Students then engage in shared writing to create a class alphabet book. After completing the class book, they work in small groups using technology to write their own alphabet books. These books are later shared with an audience, giving an authentic purpose to the writing experience.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

  • Shared writing provides students with a model for their own guided and independent writing.

  • Writing pattern books is an effective and nonthreatening way to have students create shared stories.

  • Adapting the style of established authors appears to be a significant stage in a child's writing development.

  • Alphabet books provide the means to learn: letters and sounds, visual literacy, phonemic awareness, organizational skills, sequencing skills, identification and labeling of objects, content area information, and themes.

Alphabet books meet a wide range of students' needs, ages, abilities, and circumstances. They not only provide emergent readers with opportunities for oral and written language development, but also allow older students to experience a unique genre of books. Alphabet books can be used to introduce or provide an overview of a topic, to research a topic, or to foster multicultural awareness.

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

  • Computers with Internet access

  • A My Name is Alice by Jane Bayer (Puffin, 1992)

  • A collection of age-appropriate alphabet books and websites (see Alphabet Books and Websites for suggestions)

  • Chart paper and easel or poster board



1. Designate a comfortable meeting area in the classroom that will seat all students for group work.

2. Read aloud several different examples of alphabet books to your students prior to beginning this lesson so that they are familiar with the concept of alphabet books (see Alphabet Books and Websites).

3. Read Jane Bayer's A My Name is Alice to your students before the actual lesson. This reading needs to be provided so that students have some knowledge of the book before they begin learning the skills and concepts targeted in this lesson. Emphasis should be placed on the style of Bayer's writing, the pattern of the text, and the use of illustrations.

4. Prearrange students in flexible small groups to work together on their alphabet books during Sessions 4 and 5. This allows for small-group differentiated instruction, whereby the alphabet book writing activity is tailored to student's individual writing abilities. You might consider three groupings: gifted or advanced writers, average writers, and struggling writers. If you choose to use these three groupings, consider the following special assignments for each group:
  • Gifted or advanced writers: Brainstorm a pattern for their alphabet book and then create draft pages for each letter.

  • Average writers: Choose a specific alphabet book or invite students to choose one on their own. Instruct them to use the same pattern in the alphabet book, but to change the letter words, to create their own book.

  • Struggling writers: Choose a specific alphabet book and provide them with a Template Sheet with the pattern already in place. Ask them to fill in the blanks by choosing new words for each letter page. (Photocopy the template provided or create your own template for any of the alphabet books that you share with your students.)
Another option for grouping students would be to mix students from each level and have them choose in those groups which "special assignment" they would like to do.

5. Bookmark the online Alphabet Organizer on your classroom computers or download the Alphabet Organizer mobile app onto the tablet devices for students to access during Session 6, and ensure that the program is running and printing properly. 

Set up technology buddies (i.e., tech-savvy students) who have been trained in using the Alphabet Organizer tool to work with students who are novice technology users.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • Identify and examine the characteristics of alphabet books

  • Apply their knowledge of alphabet books and expand their vocabulary by using the pattern of a specific alphabet book as a model for their own writing

  • Apply technology skills by accessing a website to create their alphabet books online

  • Develop collaborative skills by engaging in whole-class discussions, contributing to the development of a class alphabet book, and working in small groups to write their own alphabet books

  • Engage in an authentic purpose for writing as they share their finished alphabet books with an audience

Session 1: Characteristics of Alphabet Books

Note: Display a variety of alphabet books around the classroom to refer to during this session (see Alphabet Books and Websites). This part of the lesson may be repeated with these other alphabet books.

1. Gather your students in the designated group meeting area, and hold up the book A My Name is Alice by Jane Bayer.

2. Remind your students that you have read this book to them before and ask them what it is about (see Preparation, Step 3).

3. Conduct an interactive read-aloud of the book, prompting students with the following questions:
  • What do you notice about the organization of this book?

  • Can you figure out the pattern that each page follows?

  • What is different about each page?

  • What do you notice about the illustrations? What purpose do you think they serve?

  • What is your favorite page and why?
4. Draw students' attentions to the other alphabet books displayed around the room, and ask them to think about what this book has in common with the others (i.e., they are all alphabet books). Using a sheet of chart paper, have students compile a list of the characteristics of alphabet books to include:
  • Are sequenced alphabetically from A to Z (or sometimes from Z to A)

  • Usually have a consistent and predictable pattern on each page

  • Include words that begin with each letter of the alphabet

  • Include illustrations or photographs to reinforce the text

  • Sometimes have a theme or topic
5. End the session by having students browse the alphabet books that are displayed around the room. Students may choose to take one book home to share with their families.

Sessions 2 and 3: Class Alphabet Book

1. Gather your students in the designated group meeting area and tell them that they will be working together with you to create a class alphabet book. (It's a good idea to save books from previous years to share with your students at the beginning of this session.)

2. Review the chart paper from Session 1 that lists the characteristics of alphabet books. Have students explain each characteristic by pointing out an example of it in one of the alphabet books they have read before.

3. Review the pattern in A My Name is Alice (or use a pattern from another alphabet book that you have shared and is more appropriate for your class). Refer to the book so that students will remember the pattern of each letter page.

4. Ask students to start generating a list of names, places, and things they could use in their book. It is not necessary to brainstorm words in alphabetical order. Record students' words on an Alphabet Chart.

5. Use large chart paper to create a page for each letter of the alphabet. These pages will be the actual pages of the class alphabet book.

6. Model how to do the first couple of letters while students are watching. Then begin to take students' suggestions for the remaining letters. Start with clean pages and add the text together. You may choose to alternate the use of the marker with students, allowing them to be actively involved in the actual writing of the piece.

7. If students have difficulty coming up with words, offer suggestions or have a discussion about how they could find places or names for the letters. For example, history book resources, other texts with place names, or the Internet could be used. As in A My Name is Alice, you may choose to make up places and names for more difficult letters, such as x, y, and z.

8. Once you have all the letter pages complete, send students back to their seats with the chart paper to each illustrate a page. (Students who work faster can be asked to illustrate two pages.) As you hand students each page, read it aloud so that they know exactly what is on their page.

9. After students are finished, they can compile the pages in alphabetical order to create a finished book. Read the book aloud to the class.

Note: Laminate and bind the book at some later time to keep as a reference in your classroom library.

Sessions 4 and 5: Group Alphabet Books

1. Gather students in their flexible small groups in the designated group meeting area (see Preparation, Step 4). Tell them that, in the next few sessions, they will be making their own alphabet books.

2. Meet with each group to explain the alphabet book project. These instructions will differ depending on the writing ability of the students in each group and your choice of grouping (see Preparation, Step 4).

3. Since a big focus of the lesson is to follow the pattern of another alphabet book (as was done with the class alphabet book), allow students to look through several alphabet books from your collection to use as a model for their own writing. Invite students to choose one that they would like to use.

4. Use a sample blank Alphabet Chart to show students how they can choose words for their books and write them in the spaces next to each letter. List an example or two for a few letters.

5. Allow students time to work on their Alphabet Charts, and then begin writing draft pages for their alphabet books. For your struggling writers, provide them with the Template Sheet (or a modified template sheet that follows the pattern of the book they selected).

6. Circulate around the room to answer questions and make sure that students understand the project. Offer assistance as needed. Make available the class book and the Alphabet Books and Websites (if possible) for students to use as a reference.

7. Collect the finished draft alphabet book pages from each group and check them for spelling and punctuation. Consult with those groups who need more direct instruction on the characteristics of alphabet books. Work also with groups to revise and finalize the pages before Session 6.

Sessions 6: Technology Application

1. Gather students in a technology lab and arrange for them to be working with their technology buddies. Have them bring their alphabet book pages with them.

2. Introduce the Alphabet Organizer by displaying the tool on a computer or projector so that all students can see it.

3. Choose Option 2, which prompts students for one word per letter and related notes and allows an image. Using one of the letters completed for the class book in Sessions 2 and 3, model how to input the selected word and sentence for each letter. So, for example, for the letter A, you can input the word apples and then in the Description field type the sentence, "A my name is Anna and my husband's name is Adam. We come from Alabama and we sell apples."

4. Key in a few more of the letters that were completed together as a class to give students a clear understanding of the Alphabet Organizer tool and how it can be used to create their letter pages.

5. Have each group begin typing in their letter pages using their draft pages or template sheets as a guide. In the Name section, they can type in a group name. Circulate as students are working to answer questions and offer assistance as needed.

6. Have students print their letter pages when they are finished. [Note: The entire alphabet book does not need to be finished in one session. The Alphabet Organizer will print only those letter pages that are finished. Students can also save their work and complete the other letter pages at another time.]

7. Have students illustrate or add an image to their pages and create a cover page with a title and their names. These pages may be laminated and bound to create a "published" book for each group.

Session 7: Reflection/Share

1. Have students share their books with their classmates and with another class of students if possible. This gives the writing experience an authentic purpose.

2. Discuss what students learned during this lesson. Questions for discussion include:
  • What are alphabet books and how are they different from other books that you have read?

  • What was your favorite alphabet book from this lesson and why?

  • What kinds of things can alphabet books be about?

  • Did you learn anything new from the alphabet books we read?

  • What new words did you learn by creating your own alphabet book or by reading other alphabet books?

  • What did you like about creating an alphabet book? What did you think was hard?

  • What did you like most about your classmates' alphabet books? Did they include any words that you had not thought of before?


  • Extend students' alphabet practice by having them play the Picture Match or ABC Match game. In the latter, you can print off the game cards and have students use them to add words to their alphabet books.

  • Consider using the following ReadWriteThink.org lessons to extend your students' practice with alphabet books:

    • "Alphabetizing With Original Stories": Following a brainstorming session, students are challenged with the task of making books solely composed of words in alphabetical order.

    • "Action ABC's: Learning Vocabulary With Verbs": This lesson guides students in exploring and learning about verbs, culminating in the creation of an Action Alphabet book. Each page includes a word and sentence describing an illustration of the verb.

  • Include the option to create additional alphabet books in your Making Books Center. You might suggest having students create alphabet books for a content area topic. Plan a reflection/sharing time for students to share the books they create in this center.

  • Have students publish their alphabet books on a class or school website. Consult with the technology specialist at your school if you need assistance with scanning and posting students' work online.

Student Assessment / Reflections


  • Observe students during class discussions. Are they able to identify the characteristics of alphabet books? Can they find examples of each characteristic in the alphabet books you read to them or have displayed around the classroom?

  • Assess students’ group alphabet books. Do their books show an understanding of the characteristics of alphabet books? Are pages sequenced in alphabetical order? Do they use words (possibly new vocabulary) that begin with each letter of the alphabet? Do they include illustrations to reinforce the text? Are they able to follow a consistent pattern throughout their book?

  • Observe students as they use the Alphabet Organizer. Are they able to navigate the tool, follow instructions, and type in and print their letter pages? Do they work well with their technology buddies?

  • If you are able to coordinate having students share their books with another class, ask them to reflect on what they might have changed about their books to better engage the audience. What did they enjoy about sharing their books? Was their anything they did not like or found difficult?


K-12 Teacher
Haven't used ABC books as writing prompts in many years, I'm grateful to have found the "Alphabet Organizer". My thoughts are racing with the many ways to use it with my first graders.
K-12 Teacher
This is such a detailed unit!
K-12 Teacher
Haven't used ABC books as writing prompts in many years, I'm grateful to have found the "Alphabet Organizer". My thoughts are racing with the many ways to use it with my first graders.
K-12 Teacher
This is such a detailed unit!
K-12 Teacher
Haven't used ABC books as writing prompts in many years, I'm grateful to have found the "Alphabet Organizer". My thoughts are racing with the many ways to use it with my first graders.
K-12 Teacher
This is such a detailed unit!

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