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Some people on the list were recently asking for resources for teaching the alphabet.  Since then, Alicia has run across a few videos and books that she thinks would be excellent for
teaching the English alphabet and/or English vocabulary words for children.  Here they are:

1) A 30-minute video entitled "Alphabet Soup" (or "Fay Presents Alphabet Soup"), directed by William Wegman, is an excellent choice for children interested in learning the alphabet or vocabulary associated with each letter of the alphabet.  Some of you may recognize the name William Wegman: he's the photographer/director seen in books and on Sesame Street who poses his four Weimeraner dogs, dressing them in costumes and making it seem like they have human hands.  (The hands actually belong to actors hidden behind the dogs.)  I had never really felt compelled to buy any of his books before now, but this video is very humorous and, I have to admit that the ironic combination of those homely, gentle dog faces and the very active, expressive hands is a great visual joke.  But the best part is the narrator's running dialogue, his frequent play on words, his charmingly noticeable (but not obnoxious) "Yankee" accent. The video alternates scenes of the dogs lying down in the shape of a letter, vignettes where the dogs act out words beginning with that letter, and the "Alphabet Soup" scenes, where two of the dogs add ingredients in alphabetical order to a large soup kettle.  At the end,
the dogs eat the soup, and, in the grande finale, they pose with letter blocks while the narrator sings the alphabet song.  Lots of fun for kids and adults, too!

2) There's a book called "Animalia" by the talented author and illustrator Graeme Base that might be worth purchasing.  I don't actually own a copy of this book, but I have another of his books that we just love.  I've read that the illustrations associated with each
letter are beautiful and very detailed (as is typical of Base), including lots of objects that begin with the letter, and that each page invites the reader to participate a sort of "treasure hunt" for pictures of things beginning with the letter in question.  Also, there is verse for each letter which is full of alliteration.

3) Another alphabet book that is perhaps better suited to toddlers and pre-schoolers is "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault.  Many pre-school teachers and mothers consider it a classic because of its bright pictures and rhythmic verse.

For teaching/reinforcing English vocabulary, try:

1)  "P.B. Bear's Birthday Party" by Lee Davis.  It's a DK (Dorling Kindersley) book, so if you're familiar with that publisher, you know that photos are clear, the colors bright.  It's the story of a little bear (of the stuffed persuasion) who wakes up in the morning and gets ready to celebrate his birthday party.  He brushes his teeth, combs his hair, changes his clothes, and then bakes his own cake (with the help of a friend), opens some Birthday cards and a big box, and starts receiving his guests.  The great thing about this book is that it's very interactive.  In place of certain words, there is just a picture, so the child gets to fill in the missing word himself!  (Mom or Dad can take turns supplying the missing word if Junior doesn't feel like doing them
all.)  Also, sometimes the text turns in circles or goes back and forth across the page, depicting the stirring motion one makes when mixing up cake batter, or the zig-zag of a train going cross-country.  There are also places where the text asks a question, such as "How old is P.B.
Bear today?" (the child can count the candles to find out) or "Which gift would you open first?" (the child gets to study the oddly shaped packages and say which one he thinks might be the most interesting.)
This book is great for children ages 3 to 6, with 4 years olds being especially fond of it.  ( many candles did Alicia say were on that cake?)

2) "I Spy: a Book of Picture Riddles" by Jean Marzollo.  The photos of the complex visual puzzle scenes in these books are amazing, although I think it's the adults who get more caught up in this than the kids.  But there are easier "board book" versions for younger children, too.

3)  All of Richard Scarry's books are full of Busy little animals going about their business in a Busy little town.  Scarry was one of the first popular authors to include detailed illustrations full of little vignettes that children find when they look more closely.

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