A Picture Book To Teach Kids Typography

Jeremy Dooley created a new book–and an original font–to tutor tots on typeface.

They say necessity is the mother of invention, but new parenthood isn’t bad for coming up with new ideas either. “After my son was born, I found that his very simple books started me thinking about a lot of basic concepts that I would have normally taken for granted,” says designer Jeremy Dooley.


One concept in particular was typography. Dooley designs typefaces for a living–almost two years ago he worked on a Chatype, a custom font created for the increasingly techy city of Chattanooga, Tennessee. “Despite type’s ubiquity, most people don’t really think about how we have to ‘dress them up,’” Dooley says of his work. “Since this is such an essential part of our communication, I wanted to do something special for my son to help him recognize fonts and understand why they’re important.”

Which is how Dooley came up with The Clothes Letters Wear. The picture book, for kids up to three years old, teaches tots about serif, sans serif, and all the nuanced iterations for type through illustrations of letters playing dress up. In The Clothes Letters Wear, a wedge serif version of the letter A isn’t some esoteric set of angles–it’s an adorable character wearing shoes.

“I want children to understand that letterforms represent creative possibilities for them,” Dooley tells Co.Design. “How we write letters has shaped and is shaped by technology.”

Indeed, it’s not so hard to imagine that this generation of kids will skip penmanship in favor of studying type design. As if to add emphasis to that point, Dooley even created a custom typeface for the book: Cabrito, which means “little goat” in Spanish. It’s based off of Bookman Old Style, which is often used for kid’s books. To make Cabrito even more legible for little eyes, Dooley pulled from the latest in research in legibility and made the the x-height (type talk for the height of lowercase letters) taller. “When children read, they slowly and laboriously identify their letterforms, while adults have learned over time to identify them without difficulty on the fly,” he said. “Cabrito is designed to be friendly.”

Read more and support Dooley’s Kickstarter campaign, here.

About the author

Margaret Rhodes is a former associate editor for Fast Company magazine.