Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

The A-B-C Book

The A-B-C BookThe A-B-C Book

In a bookstore there were once two ABC books, one was the tried and true ABC book and the other was newer. Something happened and the new book fell from the shelf and onto the floor. The rooster who lived inside of the old ABC book got down to have a look.

He wasn’t at all impressed with the new book. He didn’t like how it was put together and he didn’t like the rhymes the book used. He thought they were much too difficult to understand. The rooster read the entire book and declared it dead already because it had no cock(rooster).


I know it sounds dirty, but when you read a story this old and it says “cock,” it’s about a rooster.

I guess for as long as there has been a printing press, there have been people writing children’s books to teach them the ABCs. I did a bit of research. The first thing like an ABC book was a Hornbook and was around during the days of Shakespeare. This type of book wasn’t as complicated as our modern-day ABC books. Later on, there were bits of cardboard printed with ABCs.

The first book like our modern-day ABC books can date back somewhere around 1683 and was called The New England Primer. This book had rhyming couplets much like the ABC book mentioned in this tale. The first letter started “with Adam’s fall,” just as the ABC book mentioned in the story starts.


Make way for the new. ABC books have been around since the 1600s, if my research is correct. By the time this story was published it was 1858 and high-time for more ABC books to be around. There were probably others, but this is Hans’ version.

The whole idea here is that the rooster didn’t like the new book. He didn’t think it could ever replace him and his ABC book. Well, Mr. Rooster, things happen. People develop new tastes and time marches on. There are reasons ABC books no longer start with an entry about “Adam’s fall.” The rooster may not like it, but a new ABC book would supplant him eventually.


Mr. Rooster, get ready to retire. Dr. Suess’s ABC book is best anyway.

Weigh In

What’s your favorite ABC book?

Did ABC books actually help you learn to read?


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