ABC books for elementary and beyond

Written by contributor Kris Bales of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

ABC books are just for young children learning to recognize their letters, right? Wrong! Homemade ABC books can be a great learning tool for elementary and beyond.

ABC books are a versatile tool that provide a simple formula for students to follow in organizing their thoughts and ideas, an easy outline for sharing them, and room for creativity in expressing them. It’s easy to vary the level of difficulty to cover a wide span of ages and abilities.

The ABC format is also open-ended enough to allow for creation of books on just about any subject, including math, science, history, geography, and literature. They’re also a wonderful choice for a variety of learning styles – kids who enjoy expressing themselves with words can focus on the writing, while those who prefer drawing or painting can immerse themselves in the illustrations.

My kids made ABC books a few years ago when we studied the Middle Ages (and they’ve been on my to-do list many times since then ). My youngest two were elementary age and my oldest was in middle or high school. They all worked on the same project, but with different levels of expectation.

We like to use hardback blank books (available on Amazon or many office/school supply retailers). There are enough pages to use one page for the alphabet letter and text and the facing page for an illustration.


Elementary-aged students can write one or two sentences, using correct capitalization and punctuation, for each letter and draw an illustration. Some examples might include:

“B is for Bastille, a prison in France.”

“X is a symbol in math that tells you to multiply two numbers.”

“T is for tiger. There are several types of tigers, such as Bengal and Siberian.”

Late-Elementary and Middle School

An older student can write several sentences for each letter, giving more information, and add a more detailed illustration.

“J is for joust. In the Middle Ages, knights would compete in contests called jousts where they would try to knock an opponent off his horse with a long weapon called a lance. Jousts were often a big form of entertainment at an event called a tournament.”

“V is for Van Gogh, a famous artist who was born in the Netherlands and later moved to Paris. Some of his famous paintings include: Vase with Twelve Sunflowers and The Starry Night.”

High School

You may think that an alphabet book is too immature or easy for a high school student, but they can really go into a lot of depth. If you can, I suggest taking a look at the Alphabet Series of state book (includes titles such at P is for Peach: A Georgia Alphabet and L is for Lone Star: A Texas Alphabet).

This series offers a simple sing-song rhyme for each letter of the alphabet, but the sidebar on each page goes into much more detail.  For an older student doing an alphabet book, the letter along with some text and the illustration could go on one page, leaving the facing page open for more in-depth text.

Students could even be required to include a bibliography at the end so that they could practice properly crediting sources. Used this way, the ABC book could almost be mini research paper.

About the Author

Finally, don’t forget the  About the Author section to really personalize the book for your child. You can include a photo and a brief biography. An easy way to do this is type it up and lay out the photo in a word processing program. Then, print it out and let the author glue it onto the back page of the book.

What subjects would your students enjoy covering in an ABC book?

About Kris

Kris Bales is the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest voice behind Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She and her husband of over 25 years are parents to two amazing teens and a homeschool grad. Kris has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. She also seems intent on becoming the crazy cat lady long before she's old and alone.


  1. Excellent ideas! The thought never crossed my mind. I’m excited to try it out in the fall!

  2. I think that is a really cool idea to have kids make their own books this way. it would give them sort of a formula to follow, without telling them exactly what to write. I’ll have to try this with my oldest son sometime.
    Anna@The DIY Mom’s latest post: DIY Lemon Cake

  3. I think this is an excellent idea that I intend to use with my history curriculum next year. I hate to always assign research projects or reports, but sometimes have trouble coming up with other ideas. One I used recently that is similar to this is to make an acrostic poem using the first letters of an historical person’s name (Nebuchadnezzar, for example) and making each line be about that person.
    Thanks for sharing your ideas!
    Jen @ anothergranolamom’s latest post: Mom School for the Summer

  4. Great ideas! This would work well as a kind of yearbook of homeschooling too.

    My sister has five children, ages 3-12–this is also a great idea to get all of the kids working on a similar project together. Can’t wait to share this with her! Thanks!
    Fran’s latest post: Oh, Go Glue Your Hand!

  5. Love the About the Author page suggestion – we haven’t done that one yet!
    Andrea @ No Doubt Learning’s latest post: Favorite Kindergarten Homeschool Resources

  6. I LOVE this idea! Thank you! It came at a perfect time as I make plans for this next year.
    shelli : mamaofletters’s latest post: GA HB 39: Georgia Homeschooling Law Changes Beginning 2012 / 2013 School Year

  7. Our improv theater group does a similar scene where two players are given a location and/or subject to discuss and/or a relationship and a letter of the alphabet on which to begin. This is something very suitable for kids and really fun to do with groups. The first person begins the scene with a sentence that starts with that letter. The second person has to respond (in a relevant way) with a sentence that starts with a word using the next letter in the alphabet game. So on an so forth, the two people go back and forth until they come full circle to the letter they started on. It’s extra great if there’s a really story line that develops with beginning, middle, end. The audience has to listen carefully, and if the players make a mistake with the alphabetic volley, then the audience can shout and the players have to correct it.
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  8. Christie says:

    Neat ideas for older kids! I have one kid who would love to do her schoolwork like this sometime.

  9. That is a fantastic idea! I would have never considered using ABC books beyond my youngest ones.

    I can’t wait to see the look on my oldest two’s faces when I tell them they are going to make an ABC book on Coral Reefs tomorrow! =)
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  10. I love this idea! I think I might have my 4-year-old make one as a gift for his little brother’s 1st birthday!
    Johanna @ My Home Tableau’s latest post: Reasons to instill good habits in your children.

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