The series "ABC book" ("Әлифба" or, in English tranliteration, "Elifba") is dedicated to the history of Tatar writing. The first two letters of the Arabic alphabet are elif and ba. They make up the word elifba — "ABC book" (or "alphabet": as with the equivalent Russian word, this word can mean a set of letters that make up the alphabet, and a book by which the alphabet is
taught). Although Tatar writing has existed in three different writing systems (several versions of Arabic writing, Latin, and later also Cyrillic) over the centuries, the word elifba retained its meaning.
In the 10th century, the ancestors of Kazan Tatars converted to Islam and with this new religion came an alphabet based on Arabic. It was used until 1920 and had the name Iske imle, that is, the "old writing". Then for a short time it was replaced by Yana imle ("new writing"), also based on Arabic but with some modernization from the Soviet government (some letters and signs were removed with additional ones added). In 1927, another reform awaited Tatar: the Latin alphabet — the Yanalif ("new alphabet"), which also did not last long, was compiled. In 1939, the Cyrillic alphabet began to be used; it remains in official use to this day.
In the original version of the Cyrillic alphabet for Tatar, there were not enough letters that could convey all the sounds that exist in the language, so letters of the expanded Cyrillic alphabet — Ә, Ө, Ү, Җ, Ң, Һ — were added. They became the starting point for the project.
The idea for the series arose during a research trip of the curatorial group to the museum of the village of Elhovo, where they were shown the old Soviet alphabet primers. The best examples of book graphics provided the visual basis of the series. In particular, the famous "ABCs in Pictures"
by Alexandre Benois from 1904.