A Unique Take On The Alphabet Book #Review
Mmm, the days of littles in the house, and reading the same picture books over and over… yes, I actually miss those years. Thank goodness I have some little nieces that are just about to that stage. And while I’ll happily read a good picture book umpteen times, what I hated were the “alphabet” books that pretty much just had a letter, a picture, and one word to describe it. I admit it; that kind totally bored me. And it must have bored the kids, too, because they sure didn’t ask to have the ABC books read over and over like they did so many others.
I’d never thought about seeking a solution for that, other than the “make your own” style. What if an alphabet book could have interesting pictures, some verse, and positive, affirming words? And even better, have music set to the alphabet song, making it a read-along? Sounds like a great idea to me, and must have to Vick Wadhwa, too, when he wrote S is for Smiling Sunrise, published by WordsBright.
S is for Smiling Sunrise is a complete alphabet book, which surprised me – given the title, I’d expected it to be the “S” volume of a series. Each page includes a letter, a word that starts with that letter, and then verse that defines or expands upon that word. The words were deliberately chose to stand apart from typical alphabet books; instead of sticking to the very common basic nouns like apple and dog, they’re often (very slightly) more challenging concepts like nature or evening. While these terms may seem just as simple to us adults, they’re not quite as obvious to a two or three-year-old.
Free Pre-K and K-3 teaching guides downloads in pdf format are offered on the WordsBright website. The Pre-K version is a one-page sheet that makes suggestions for incorporating the alphabet and verse into daily routines. The K-3 option is expanded, at 7 pages, and details the concepts presented for each letter, along with conversational questions, vocabulary words, and even relevant activities. Using this guide, it would be really easy to focus on a letter per week, without much in the way of planning needed. (Some ideas, like butterfly spotting, may be seasonally restricted – it might be necessary to make some adaptions.)
The illustrations in S is for Sunrise are an interesting mix. While all the artwork is in a somewhat cartoony style, they range from more so, with black lines outlining colors, especially on the images of people, to almost dreamy, with no outlining whatsoever. The “no outlines” are definitely our favorites, no question about it; while the outlined drawings aren’t bad, they just don’t have the same visual appeal.
The audio I mentioned doesn’t come with the book, but is available as a free mp3 download from the WordsBright website. You’ll want to download it and use it, at minimum the first few times you read the book. I have to admit, I read through S is for Sunrise the first time without the audio, and for me, it was really awkward. I was anticipating “perfect” (exact) rhymes and that’s not how this book is written. It also flowed a bit oddly, I thought, and I couldn’t figure out why – until I listened to the audio and realized that the verse works far better when it’s sung and not read, and that was why the timing seemed strange at first.
The happy, cheerful theme works well with the bright colors, and used as a read-along book, it’s just perfect. If my kids were still littles, this would be on my once-a-day shelf… and while I might still find myself sick of humming the alphabet tune after a while, at least it would have life-affirming, motivational words to go along with it!