“Louise the Big Cheese and the Back-to-School Smarty Pants” by Elise Primavera, Illustrated by Diane Goode, Simon & Schuster, 2011, ages 4-8.

Before going back to school, Louise makes plans to be the “big cheese” of her new class and earn all A’s in second grade. Louise soon learns her teacher, Mrs. Pearl does not give A’s easily and has very high expectations for all of her students. Louise thinks this is unfair until she has a substitute, Miss Sparkles, who gives A’s to everyone. Louise learns the value of genuine praise and the hard word it takes to be a top student.

“Eddie Gets Ready for School” by David Milgrim, Scholastic, 2011, ages 3-6.

Eddie wants to get ready for school all by himself. His checklist for getting ready includes watching TV, drinking root beer, and packing the cat into his backpack. His mother’s checklist is not so fun. Eddie manages to get dressed, find something for show and tell, and then catch the bus just in time.

“Al Pha’s Bet” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Illustrated by Delphine Durand, Penguin, 2011, ages 4-8.

Long ago, a man named Al Pha made a personal bet to take on the king’s challenge of arranging the newly invented letters. This alphabet book tells the story of Al and the logic he used to arrange the 26 letters. The king was so pleased, he named the letters after Al Pha and his bet, coining the term alphabet. This fun story provides a clever explanation for the origin of the alphabet along with practice with the alphabet letters.

“Basher’s ABC Kids” by Simon Basher, Kingfisher, 2011, ages 4-7.

Although alphabet books abound, Basher’s ABC Kids contains several elements which set the book apart from some other alphabet books. Each letter has a two-page spread with a single word and image on one page and the upper and lower case letter, a sentence, and several smaller images on the opposite page. Bright, simple illustrations accompany each letter. Most importantly, all of the words on both pages begin with the specific letter and match the illustrations, reinforcing the connection between the letter and its sound along with developing vocabulary through both familiar and more challenging words.