Most teachers use the typical associations to teach the alphabet: A is for apple, B is for bear, C is for cat, and so on. (Z is usually Zebra.) But if you prefer walking off the beaten path, there is a wealth of alternative alphabets available to teach your children the ABCs.
1. The Hidden Alphabet by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
In her lift-the-flap picture book (and book trailer, above), Seeger not only uses less traditional associations, but she also hides the items within the shapes of the letters. A is for Arrowhead, the triangle in the A; P is for Partridge, the hollow in the P; and Q is for Quotation Mark, the center of the Q.
2. The Muppet Alphabet by Mike Boon
Boon, a graphic designer, created an alphabet in which the letters are formed from The Muppet Show characters. B is for Bunsen and Beaker, F is for Fozzie, and X is for Xomfey (a "Pink Stalk" from the show's pilot episode, "Sex and Violence"). You can purchase a T-shirt (from Threadless) or a poster (mini through gallery size at society6) featuring the alphabet.
3. SuperHero ABC by Bob McLeod
As an illustrator and artist for both Marvel Comics and DC Comics, McLeod has his fair share of experience with superheroes. His children's picture book, SuperHero ABC, was named one of School Library Journal's "Best Books of the Year." It features Astro-Man, who's "always alert for an alien attack;" Bubble-Man, who "blows big bubbles at bullies" (as well as being a bald man who wears boots); and The Volcano, who "vomits on villains." His web site features SuperHero ABC activity pages as well as links to purchase T-shirts, posters, and other related merch.
4. The Alphabet of Geekdom by Nana Leonti
The "geekdom" alphabet by artist Nana Leonti features letters from the logos of popular geek brands/franchises, which Leonti hand-drew. M is for Magic: The Gathering, V is for V for Vendetta, and W is for Wonder Woman. You can purchase T-shirts and prints through redbubble.
5. The ABCs of Rock by Melissa Duke Mooney and Print Mafia
If you're too cool for the Alphabet of Geekdom, perhaps The ABCs of Rock is more your style. When Mooney, whose husband is in a band, couldn't find a suitable rock 'n' roll alphabet book for her daughters, she decided to create one herself. Near the end of the process, Mooney passed away unexpectedly from meningitis, but her husband and others finished the project in her honor. Associations from the rockin' picture book include B for Bowie (David, that is), F for Fleetwood Mac, and W for White Stripes.
6. The Official Fart Alphabet by Ralph Masiello and Stephanie Brockway
7. Nerdy Baby ABCs by Tiffany Ard
The Nerdy Baby ABC flash cards feature associations such as A for Atom, B for Binary Code, and C for Cell Membrane, all beautifully drawn by children's artist Tiffany Ard. You can pick up a set in the mental_floss store.
8. My Foodie ABC by Puck and Violet Lemay
Puck's board book for "gastronomes in training" teaches both the alphabet as well as the foodie terms, with pronunciation guides and descriptions for all the terms and colorful illustrations by Lemay. P is for Pomegranate, Q is for Quinoa, and R is for Radicchio.
9. A is for Ackbar by Emma & Brandon Peat
The Peats initially designed this Star Wars-themed alphabet as wall hangings for their baby's bedroom. They later printed it up in book form to show family members and distribute as a thank you to those who contributed to their baby's college fund. Now, it just lives on Brandon's web site. C is for Chewie and C-3PO, E is for Ewoks, and L is for Luke and Leia. (There's also an official Star Wars ABC board book, but it's not nearly as adorable.)
10. The Alphabet 2 by n9ve
Independent design studio n9ve created this alphabet video experiment in which each letter visually represents the meaning of its word. B is a B-shaped biscuit, C is for Cell Animation, and the D, which explodes, is for Destruction. Check out their behind-the-scenes photos from the shoot, as well as their first alphabet video, in which each letter correlates to a font.
11. XYZ Blocks by Christian Northeast
These fun wooden alphabet blocks from Fred are "the alternative to ABC," with non-boring associations like K for Karate, T for Trailer, and U for Underpants. You can pick up a set in the mental_floss store.
11 alternative alphabets not enough for you? Don't worry, we're not stopping the fun. Head over to our "Alternative ABCs" board on Pinterest for more alphabety goodness. And if you've seen a good one, let us know in the comments and we'll add it to the board.