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Words + More Words = Stories and Books

In a recent newsletter post by Austin Kleon, he wrote about how it's hard to recommend just one book because a cluster of books come together to create bigger pictures, ideas and concepts. As writers and illustrators submitting our work to agents and editors, we are asked to share comparative (comp) titles. Theses could be books, memes, movies, videos which have some similarities to our work.

The more we read, look at, or listen to stories, the more comparisons and pairings we can make. I recently took Mike Lowery's Getting Paid to Draw class, I spent some time looking at Mike's books and purchased a few for my collection.

I found I DON'T WANT TO READ THIS BOOK written by Max Greenfield and illustrated by Mike Lowery. I bought this book because I had an idea for my own story about not wanting to read on my Storystorm list this year. When I was young, I loved stories, but reading was hard. I was pretty slow at processing all the words and always felt behind the other kids, my school librarian wouldn't let me check out the same books the other kids were checking out, and I was easily distracted. When I got older (Senior year of high school) I found my way through those barriers and fell in love with reading. I knew then that I wanted to help kids like me discover the love of reading.

Cover art for I don't want to read this book.

This book has been compared to THE BOOK WITH NO PICTURES by B.J. Nowak.

I love this book because it's silly, it uses big words and kids learn new things, and it makes non-readers feel validated while proving to themselves that they can enjoy reading a book. I also like the way Mike illustrated the book. He plays with the text as art which kids can copy and play with themselves.

Check out the video below of Max reading the book to a group of kids.

On my last visit to the library HOW TO READ A BOOK by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Melissa Sweet jumped out at me. According to the Author note at the end of the book, Kwame wrote the poem for World Read Aloud Day 2010. It's a poem about the joy and power if reading.

Cover art for How to Read a book.

Once again, there is beautiful play of the words as art.

My favorite line is, "Don't rush through: your eyes need time to taste. Your soul needs time to bloom."

Melissa's illustrations hold you to the page and the metaphors and joy of the poem melt into your mind.

The playful text once again opens the door for children (and adults) to play with text as art.

Another little tie between the books is the color orange. Hmm.

Orange you glad you read this post so you have a list of fun books to read?

Since I'm sure the answer is yes, I will share one more book with you before giving you a little gift.

This BIG book of words by vocab virtuoso Tara Lazar and illustrated by Michelle Mayhall/Sourcebooks will make you a language juggernaut and give you many boffolas and the occasional chortle. It may even make feel gobsmacked and flabbergasted. But don't worry, there are definitions, ways to use the words in sentences, and the history of many words.

And there is orange in this book too. There really must be connection between words and the color orange. Could it be that nothing rhymes with orange?

After reading I DON'T WANT TO READ THIS BOOK , I was helping a friend with an after school program and we had the idea that it would be fun for kids to make a little book of their own. I learned how to make a little book from Shadra Strickland at a Highlight Summer Camp Retreat and was re-introduced to it during Sketchbook Revival 2022 hosted by Karen Abend and taught by Rachel Hazell in March. As I was practicing folding the book, I had an idea. I made a little book of my own using the fun lettering ideas I had seen created by Mike Lowery.

You can download the pdf at the bottom and print it out to turn it into a book. If you have a double sided printer, print it on one sheet. If you have to print both sheets separately, you will need to glue the sheets together. both ways work. The directions for making the book are on the book. It's a story, a coloring page, a little book, and a place to use your own imagination.

First page of "I Am Book" a folded book.

I am book 2 pages
Download PDF • 3.40MB

You can purchase all of these books from your local bookstore, or Amazon. Or you can borrow them from your local public library. Links are affiliate and I earn a little money. I put it all back into buying more books or art supplies. Many of the books I write about are donated to local school libraries to add to their collections.

And I mentioned Austin Kleon at the beginning of this post. STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST, SHOW YOUR WORK, and KEEP GOING are excellent books that use word art to give you life hacks for being creative and putting yourself out into the world. Austin also has a newsletter that is free on Fridays and requires a $50 annual subscription to get his Tuesday letter. I recently signed up and really enjoy it.

Last note: Mike Lowery's class only come around once a year. You can sign-up for his free newsletter to make sure you hear about it in 2023. He also has other pre-recorded classes available on his website and a few on Skillshare.


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Love this post! I watched the video. He is definitely as good at reading his book (with all the words) as BJ Nowak is at reading his book with no pictures. They're both great books to study for comedic timing. Your question about Orange reminded me of Adam Rex's Nothing Rhymes with Orange, LOL. I've also read How to Read a Book, but I have't picked up Tara Lazar's Absurd Words. It's been on my list to read for awhile. Thanks for the nudge. Cheers!

Sarah Tobias
Sarah Tobias
May 25, 2022
Replying to

I purposely didn't mention the book wondering if anyone would take that leap. YAY! You did.

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