The best self-aware picture books

Why am I passionate about this?

I always felt like books were mysterious and elusive works of art. When creating them occurred to me, I started to think, “What is a book, really, and what does it mean to publish one?” This over-analysis of books makes me appreciate authors who are able to step back and see books for what they really are–pages and ink. Distilling it down to that makes writing and publishing a book feel more accessible to me.


I wrote...

The Book That Almost Rhymed

By Omar Abed, Hatem Aly (illustrator),

Book cover of The Book That Almost Rhymed

What is my book about?

What do you do with an interrupting sibling? Especially when she’s stepping all over your story with wild ideas that don’t. Even. Rhyme. Knights riding rockets? Dancing pirates? Who’s ever heard of a fire-breathing armadillo?!

When this big brother realizes his sister just might be improving his yarn—and doing it with an impressive surprise of her own—it’s clear what you do with an interrupting sibling. You share the narrative! Turns out adventure is way more fun when you build it together, rhyme by daring rhyme.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Book with No Pictures

Omar Abed Why did I love this book?

This was the first book that made me realize how picture books could play with the traditional picture book format with resounding success.

My son loves listening to me read the silly words out loud. It’s no secret why this clever book was so successful.

By B.J. Novak,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Book with No Pictures as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This innovative and wildly funny read-aloud will be the Must Have book of the season. You might think a book with no pictures seems boring and serious. Except...here's how books work. Everything written on the page has to be said by the person reading it aloud. Even if the words say...BLORK. Or BLUURF. Even if the words are a preposterous song about eating ants for breakfast, or just a list of astonishingly goofy sounds like BLAGGITY BLAGGITY and GLIBBITY GLOBBITY.


Book cover of I Don't Want to Read This Book

Omar Abed Why did I love this book?

I’m not usually big on celebrity authors, but this story made me feel like the author really didn’t enjoy reading when he was growing up.

It’s simple and silly and, ultimately, a great way to convince non-readers to get into reading. And hey, by the end of the book, you’ve realized you’ve read a book about not wanting to read a book…how neat is that?

By Max Greenfield, Mike Lowery (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Don't Want to Read This Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.


Book cover of This Book Just Ate My Dog!

Omar Abed Why did I love this book?

This book made such a clever use of the “gutter” in the middle of the book.

I have an irrational fear of picture book gutters and margins after formatting my first self-published book and making sure all the important stuff (including the text) stays in the frame.

This book gave me the feeling of ownership over the gutter that I never knew I needed.

By Richard Byrne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Book Just Ate My Dog! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

In this wonderfully inventive book, Bella is taking her dog for a stroll across the page but halfway across, he disappears! Unable to quite believe what's just happened Bella watches, transfixed, with changing emotions of surprise, indignation, moments of renewed hope (as the authorities arrive to take control) followed by shock (as they too succumb to the book's inexplicable behaviour) and finally action when Bella marches toward the dangerous middle of the book . . . only to disappear herself! At this point, the book has consumed its characters and it's down to the reader to step in to help.…


Book cover of The Wall in the Middle of the Book

Omar Abed Why did I love this book?

Once again, this book tackles the troublesome gutter head-on.

I love the vibrant illustrations and the simplicity of the story. The tension is ramped up through funny illustrations. In fact, the narrator seems completely unaware of the growing danger on his side of the book!

The twist at the end was a satisfying resolution.

By Jon Agee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Wall in the Middle of the Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Sunday Times Culture Magazine Book of the Week;There's a wall in the middle of the book, and our hero-a young knight-is sure that the wall protects his side of the book from the dangers of the other side-like an angry tiger and giant rhino, and worst of all, an ogre who would gobble him up in a second! But our knight doesn't seem to notice the crocodile and growing sea of water that are emerging on his side. When he's almost over his head and calling for help, who will come to his rescue? An individual who isn't as dangerous…


Book cover of The Monster at the End of This Book (Sesame Street)

Omar Abed Why did I love this book?

This book does such a good job of engaging the reader. I love how Grover communicates with the reader and actively tries to stop them from moving forward.

It doesn’t hurt that Grover is my favorite Sesame Street character, and his energetic voice came through in the text.

By Jon Stone, Michael Smollin (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Monster at the End of This Book (Sesame Street) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Monster at the End of This Book is a classic, adored by toddlers and adults alike. This collectible kit includes a mini book version of The Monster at the End of this Book, featuring the full text and illustrations from the original classic story, and a plush Grover backpack clip. Journey with lovable, furry old Grover to the end of the book to discover who the monster really is!

Lovable, furry old Grover is distressed to learn that there's a monster at the end of this book! He begs readers not to turn the pages, but of course kids…


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Creativity, Teaching, and Natural Inspiration

By Mark Doherty,

Book cover of Creativity, Teaching, and Natural Inspiration

Mark Doherty Author Of Creativity, Teaching, and Natural Inspiration

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a highly experienced outdoorsman, musician, songwriter, and backcountry guide who chose teaching as a day job. As a writer, however, I am a promoter of creative and literary nonfiction, especially nonfiction that features a thematic thread, whether it be philosophical, conservation, historical, or even unique experiential. The thread I used for thirty years of teaching high school and honors English was the thread of Conservation, as exemplified by authors like Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Edward O. Wilson, Al Gore, Henry David Thoreau, as well as many other more contemporary authors.

Mark's book list on creative nonfiction books that entertain and teach through threaded essays and stories

What is my book about?

I have woven numerous delightful and descriptive true life stories, many from my adventures as an outdoorsman and singer songwriter, into my life as a high school English teacher. I think you'll find this work both entertaining as well as informative, and I hope you enjoy the often lighthearted repartee and dialogue that enhances the stories and experiences.

When I started teaching in the early 1990s, I brought into the classroom with me my passions for nature, folk music, and creativity. This book holds something new and engaging with every chapter and can be enjoyed by all sorts of readers, particularly those who enjoy nonfiction that employs wit, wisdom, humor, and even some down-to-earth philosophy.

Creativity, Teaching, and Natural Inspiration

By Mark Doherty,

What is this book about?

Creativity, Teaching, and Natural Inspiration follows the evolution of a high school English teacher as he develops a creative and innovative teaching style despite being juxtaposed against a public education system bent on didactic, normalizing regulations and political demands. Doherty crafts an engaging nonfiction story that utilizes memoir, anecdote, poetry, and dialogue to explore how mixing creativity and pedagogy can change the way budding students visualize creative writing: A chunk of firewood plunked on a classroom table becomes part of a sawmill, a mine timber, an Anasazi artifact...it also becomes a poem, a song, an essay, and a memoir. The…


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