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What Is a Concept Book?

The short (or long or tall) of it: A concept book is a picture book that teaches a broad concept to young readers. Examples? Alphabet books, number books, books about colors, opposites, books about feelings and emotions.
A concept is an idea, an abstract notion. Here's the rub. Very young readers are concrete thinkers, very "here and now." Luckily concept books do not have to teach the alphabetic principle, or algebra, or color theory. They teach what toddlers and young preschoolers can see, hear, touch, and feel - the upper and lowercase, quiet and loud, and happy and sad face of things.

Three concept books by DENISE FLEMING:

LUNCH (1998) from Henry Holt and Co.
Concept: Colors. A toothsome mouse, called Mouse, eats his way through the primary and secondary colors and then some. The pictures are deliciously big. Bon appetit! The emergent literacy bent: The text is sparse and the letters large, fostering print awareness. Point out a few words as you read. Clever foreshadowing spurs plenty of book talk: What color will Mouse eat next? 
BARNYARD BANTER (2001) from Henry Holt and Co.
Concept: Animal sounds. Ten farm animals, a cricket, and a frog sound off on board book pages. The literacy bent: A wonderfully noisy, rhyming text promotes language sounds awareness. Almost-one-year-olds can moo and cock-a-doodle-doo, a great pre-speech activity. Older toddlers and two's can solve the mystery, Where's goose?

Concept: The alphabet. Fleming’s industrious Mouse returns, leveling L’s and measuring M’s. Each page showcases an uppercase letter of the alphabet, making this a perfect first alphabet book for young preschoolers. Literacy bent: Fleming includes a set of alphabet construction plans on her website at

Reading is fun what a concept! 


  1. You might be intersted to know the backgrounds of the pictures in LUNCH go through the colors of the rainbow and the book starts with a white background which is all colors combined and ends with black which is absence of color

  2. Ooops...I just deleted my reply comment. Still learning!!! So once again... Thank you, David Powers, for the book info. Yet another reason to love LUNCH!


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