When a fierce wind threatens to blow all the little letters out of the alphabet tree, they must band together in words—and then sentences—to create a message that’s even stronger than the wind: peace on earth. With their newfound knowledge, there’s nothing the letters can’t do in this gentle parable about the power of the written word.
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This book was what I grew up on. I loved the pictures and the art work, it was simple but as a child, the images capture your eyes quickly. As well this book helped me get into wanting to read.
“The Alphabet Tree” is a wonderful book to integrate into a lesson to teach kindergarten children their alphabet and how to sequence them. It can help students recall the order in which the letters where put back on the tree. This book can be used in a whole group activity. First, after reading the book to the children, the teacher could pass out letter blocks. She will give each student at least one block. The teacher will then start off by placing the letter (A) on table or rug. After placing the letter A on the table or rug she will ask the question, “what letter comes next”? She will do this until the alphabet is complete or until they have reached the letter Z. The teacher could also include letter sounds into this activity as well. Overall this book teaches children how to learn alphabet sequencing and how to identify letters, which is a standard for kindergarten children.
This is a perfect book for explaining what letters are for. The letters on the leaves of the alphabet tree are terrified after a strong wind scatters them, but then the word-bug teaches them how to combine to make words so when the wind returns they are stronger and can hold on. Then along comes a caterpillar who suggests that they combine into sentences and “mean something,” and so they try that. They make sentences like “the wind is bad” and”the bug is small.” Finally the caterpillar admonishes them to “say something important” and they spell out a message about peace on earth, climb on the caterpillar’s back, and journey to take their message to the President.
Some people find The Alphabet Tree hokey, but I think it’s exquisite—and (sadly) timely.
For a child obsessed with the alphabet, I like how The Alphabet Tree focuses on the function of letters (and words and sentences). It’s useful for some kids to see individual letters out of order. Children who script are often very rigid about their scripts and this could be a concern with the alphabet. It’s good to gain practice seeing individual letters all mixed up and represented as a flexible set of tools.
There is something very subtle and deliberate on Lionni’s part in the description of the letters being afraid when they scatter in the wind. I think this emotional component may speak to some children’s fears experiencing new academic challenges and it may perhaps connect with a child who is anxious about experiencing the alphabet in a non-ordered way…