Review: The ABCs of D&D and The 123s of D&D


Release Date

Author: Ivan van Norman
Artist: Caleb Cleveland
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Format: Hardcover
Price: $10.52 (ABCs), $10.52 (123s)

The ABCs of D&D and The 123s of D&D are new children’s books set in the magical world of Dungeons & Dragons. These fun-filled books simultaneously help young readers with developmental learning and prepare them for epic RPG quests. Lovingly-crafted by fans, they are a great read for “adventurers of every level.”


At the time of this writing, my wife is 39 weeks pregnant with our first child, a little baby girl. Seeing as I know nothing about babies OR girls, I guess I’m in for a crash course in both.

Over the last several months, we have amassed a plethora of books, toys, and clothes for her. Being the nerd-father that I am, my hope is to instill in her a love of all things geeky from a young age. Thus, in addition to all the standard, adorable baby clothes, her wardrobe will include outfits like these:

(She is going to be the cutest little bard to ever brave the Tomb of Horrors.)

To prepare her for her quests, however, it’s important for her to learn her ABCs and 123s, first. Thankfully, there are Dungeons & Dragons sourcebooks for that.

Wizards of the Coast has just released The ABCs of D&D and The 123s of D&D, two books for little adventurers. Full of lovely, color illustrations by the talented Caleb Cleveland, each one is written in catchy, rhyming couplets.

(In case you’re wondering, X is for “XP.” I wasn’t sure whether it would be that or “Xanathar;” I guess “XP” is easier for a kid to pronounce!)

The ABCs covers the entire alphabet (duh), and The 123s covers the numbers 1-10. At first, I was wondering if the numbers book would be significantly shorter as a result, but I was happy to see it supplemented by a “Bestiary,” also written in rhyme. This means the numbers themselves only account for about half the book—the rest introduces readers to classic D&D creatures. This may come across as filler content, but I actually like it. It’s quite thematic to have a Bestiary, and come on, wouldn’t you be so proud if your kid’s first word was “hobgoblin?”

It’s very clear that these books were labors of love, created by avid D&D players. (If you follow Geek & Sundry, you already know that author Ivan van Norman is a mega-fan.) They really succeed at capturing the spirit of adventure that makes the game so engaging. Imagination is one of the most important values a child can have, and these books encourage young readers to embrace their creativity.

I appreciate that the illustrations represent a diversity of characters. It is refreshing to see the inclusions of female players and adventurers of color in what is stereotypically seen as a white-male-nerd subculture.

The pictures also include lots of amusing Easter-egg references, from scrawlings on dungeon walls to the classic Dungeon! board game. Long-time fans will have fun spotting these self-promoting details.

I really enjoyed these books, and I can’t wait to share them with my (hopefully) lawful-good daughter. With light-hearted visuals and a good-natured spirit, they are great tools for teaching young kids and inspiring in them a love of fantasy. The ABCs of D&D and The 123s of D&D are fun reads, whether your child is human, elf, or half-orc. Definitely worth checking out.

Review copies were provided by Wizards of the Coast.

The Bottom Line


Author: Stephen Hall

A bard pretending to be a cleric. Possibly a Cylon, too. I was there when they dug up the "E.T." cartridges.