March Challenge: Slice of Life


I will be writing daily in the “Slice of Life” challenge for March.  Writing for 31 consecutive days already sounds intimidating.  Questions circling my brain include:

    • Who will want to read my slices?
    • Why did I really sign up for this challenge?
    • How will I really write a slice of life for the next 31 days?


The Alphabet and Alphabet Books


Have you read any of these?  These books are on my “reread” shelf in my office.  I often pull them down to look at the language, the content, or even to make a list for “those parents with a new baby” because they offer variety and comfort to me as a reader.  H is for Hawkeye is a special favorite because it features all things that are Iowa-related so it is a handy gift for visitors or friends from afar.

What is my attraction to alphabet books?  I love to see each author’s choice for “x” and of course I love the predictability of the structure.  The book starts with A and ends with Z like the alphabet. Occasionally there is a challenge as in, Q is for Duck, an alphabet guessing game.  Why is Q for duck?  Because a duck “quacks.”  That is a favorite of mine because it increases children’s conversations and adds more and different ways to “read” the book.

Neat, tidy,organized, predictable.  That stability in my reading matched my desire to be a teacher when I was in third grade and wrote the “When I grow up I want to be a . . . ” paper. No surprise here.  I was going to be a teacher.  I loved to teach at an early age and often volunteered for a variety of “teaching” opportunities.  Unlocking the power of the alphabet, words, sentences, paragraphs, and books was magical and I wanted to share that experience with others.  Even now when a spontaneous conversation begins in the grocery store, my son and / or husband will roll their eyes, say “teacher” and continue on their path.

What about the alphabet?

Well, in English we have 26 letters that are used to form many, many more sounds and even allow us to borrow words from other languages.  The first alphabet dates back to 1900 BC Egypt and yes, finally, older than me!  Other symbols have become equally important in “Twitterverse” now that “#” and “@” are constant companions, but the 26 letters remain the same!

Alphabet Books 

Children’s alphabet books are an enduring genre and have evolved from the hornbook, battledore, primer, speller, New England primer to the lovely texts today that feature alliteration, onomatopoeia, poetry, narratives, and curiosity.  A Google search for “abc books” returned 105,000,000 results in 0.17 seconds.  Two lists that I found interesting were the “Best 6 ABC Books” and this picture of the top ABC bookshelf on Goodreads.


Which books are the same?  Which books are your favorite?  Which books do you share as gifts? Which books are a part of your “reading history?”

32 responses

  1. I too love alphabet books. I gravitate to ones with lots of art work. One of my favorites is M is for Montana by Gayle C. Shirley

    1. I will have to look for M is for Montana. I am guessing that the Montana scenery is featured!

      Thanks for your reply!

  2. I like your reasons for liking alphabet books….I have really never thought much about it. Is there an alphabet book for each state…I wonder? My mother’s family is from Iowa…so I have a number of relatives there….will have to check out that book…sounds interesting. I think my reading history book would have to be “Tom Sawyer”…can’t count the number of times I have read it. Nice post… last year was my first year to take this challenge…and I am still here! Welcome and I will look forward to reading your posts. Jackie

    1. Jackie,
      Thanks for your comments! And I’m glad to know that you are only a second year slicer and you are back! Writing 31 days makes me very nervous!

      There are at least 2 or 3 different series of “state” books but I am not sure if all 50 are complete! It’s a fun way to learn more about a state without having to always follow the “geography, population, business…” version of organization!

      Again, thanks for stopping by to comment!

  3. Thanks for sharing the Slice of Life Challenge. It is something I plan to try as well. Let’s keep each other accountable.

    1. Kathy,
      There is something about a public challenge that increases the accountability level! I can’t wait to see what you post!

      Thanks for the comment!

  4. So glad that you are slicing with us, Fran! March is such a glorious writing time – and we feed each others’ imagination and desire to write with these daily slices to sift through, enjoy, and be inspired by. You will be exhausted by the 31st. – but exhilarated, too. Which books do I count in my reading history? Well, personally, I would have to say Tolstoy: Anna K. and War and Peace. Tomes, yes, but I learned so much about life through those books!

    1. Tara,
      What a kindred soul! I loved Anna K – have put it on my kindle to reread.

      Narrative writing is such a challenge for me. I thought this would give me some good practice with lots to read and write!

      Thanks for the comments and the encouragement. You are such a gifted storyteller!

  5. […] posted her first of 31 posts in the “Slice of Life” blogging challenge. Her post,  March Challenge: Slice of Life, takes a look at the alphabet and more specifically, alphabet books. The challenge caught my eye. […]

    1. Kathy,
      You are a great storyteller. I can’t wait to see where your blogging path takes you over the course of the next month!

  6. Fran,
    I want to read your slices! I am so glad you are joining. I have found out so much about writing and of course about others. I can see you as a third grader. And the alphabet is a perfect analogy for you: organized, neat, and reliable (better than predictable, more trustworthy).

    1. Thanks, Julieanne!
      Your stories are always so inspiring! Writing is a “truth-seeking” exercise and I love that you see me as reliable and trustworthy! Thank you, my friend! Wait til you see where the alphabet takes me tomorrow! (totally fun!)

  7. Alphabet books became my passion after I discovered Jerry Pallotta’s books. It is so intriguing to see how they are used to share knowledge. My newest favorite is A Is for Musk Ox by Erin Cabatingan.
    So glad you are slicing! Don’t be intimidated, trust me, it invigorates the writing life. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for your encouragement. The conversations have been wonderfully invigorating already! I will have to look for A is for Musk Ox. . . definitely a curious title!

  8. Looking forward to slicing with you, Fran!

    1. Thanks, Anna! Your encouragement is greatly appreciated!

  9. I love the alphabet. It’s my go-to song for comfort and to generate creative ideas. You remind me to revisit my own alphabet book collection and add some of the titles you mention. Welcome to the slicing community!

    1. Thanks for your comments and your encouragement! It seems like the alphabet can always add to my “ideas” and thinking!

  10. Fran, I am so excited that more Iowa teachers are joining in. This is my fourth year slicing and while once in awhile it gets hard to think of something to write about, you will find that there will always be someone reading. Welcome. I can’t wait to read some more

    1. Thanks, Deb! Thinking of topics for 31 days still seems daunting, but I also know that I must write more in order to be a better author myself!

  11. Great post, Fran! I love alphabet books, too. Not sure I have a favorite, but Q is for Duck is so much fun to share with kids. I just found a new one that I’ll be sharing for It’s Monday! What are You Reading? Looking forward to reading more slices from you this month!

    1. Thanks, Catherine! I loved hearing about your stamp collecting. I remember collecting stamps for a school project once.

      I’m rereading “Pathways to the Common Core” – Calkins, Lehman, and Ehrenworth to deepen my understanding of CCSS.

      I am looking forward to reading lots more from you and Julieanne this month!

  12. I’m not a big fan of alphabet books, but your post sent me searching my bookshelves. I rediscovered 2 favorites, B is for Bethlehem by Isabelle Wilner & illustrated by Elisa Kleven, and Alphabears, by Kathleen Hague and illustrated by Michael Hague purchased for my son’s first Christmas in 1984. And then I found A Prairie Alphabet, perfect for poetry month with its alliterative lines.

    1. Thanks for the comments and some new titles, Ramona!

  13. Fran- Welcome to the Slice community! You’ll “meet” so many terrific people this month, and there will be lots of us reading your writing. I love alphabet books too and Q IS FOR DUCK is one of my favorites. Another oldie I love is Chris Van Allsburg’s THE Z WAS ZAPPED. One of my favorite new ones is ABC vs 123 by Mike Boldt.

    1. Thanks for the comments and the new titles! The support and encouragement from fellow slicers is so wonderful!

  14. […] *How important was the format of today’s poem?  Check out yesterday’s slice here if you did not read it! […]

  15. Love this! I read an alphabet book every Friday with my first-graders. Q is for Duck just last week! They loved Z is for Moose- he is a stinker, isn’t he?

    1. Thanks for the comment, Susanne! Alphabet books can be a familiar pattern for many of our kiddos!

  16. Allison Jackson | Reply

    Fran, so proud of you for participating in the Slice Of Life Challenge. And to answer your question, I want to and will read your posts, along with tons of other people.
    Something else we have in common: our love of ABC books- like the ABC NYC book we each got last summer at Bank Street Bookstore!

    1. Thanks, Allison!

      My NYC ABC book is on the shelf with all my Units of Study. I missed it. Thanks for the reminder!

      I love abc books so much that I created one for my great nephew when we took him to Florida at the age of five. His dad’s high school band performed in the Orange Bowl parade and game. It was so much fun to see Florida from a 5 year old’s view!

      I appreciate your encouragement! Just thinking about 31 topics set my heart racing and my mind spinning!

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