Blogger Jennifer Schultz

Lots of Laughs: National Humor Month

We all know that April is National Poetry Month, so I’m sure many of us have special poetry displays, booklists, and programs. But did you know that April is also National Humor Month?

Books that tickle young readers’ and listeners’ funny bones are ideal for many reasons. Many parents (and fellow librarians) are often asked to be visiting readers at elementary schools.  When parents tell me that they are scheduled to read aloud at their children’s school, I usually recommend picture books that are surefire humor hits. Funny books are also fantastic for reluctant readers and/or readers who are new to chapter books. Everyone likes to laugh, even if they’re not so sure about reading.  If you tell a young reader that the book is hilarious, it’s a great hook to get him/her interested in the book.

Of course, humor is very subjective! What’s amusing to one person is deadly dull to another. With that in mind, here are some of my favorite funny picture books:

 

Chicks and Salsa

(image taken from Scholastic)

Wouldn’t you get tired of eating chicken feed day in and day out? The chickens at Nuthatcher Farm long for something with a kick and a crunch….like chips and salsa! Pretty soon, their taste for southwestern treats spreads to guacamole and nachos, until Mr. and Mrs. Nuthatcher get a little too interested in the spicy snacks. Lots of snarky humor and asides to get the attention of a wide range of ages. The “follow up”, Buffalo Wings, is just as hilarious. If you do football/Super Bowl programming, you need to include these books!

 

rumor

(image taken from Jan Thornhill’s website)

With its similarity to Chicken Little, this Indian folktale of animals frantically spreading the word that the world is breaking up is a funny and dramatic tale perfect for folktale comparisons and multicultural bibliographies. A hare is convinced that the world is about to end when he hears a startling crash; he manages to alarm the other hares, the deer, the boars, and the tigers, who join him in alerting the lion….who is not at all amused.

 

three_sillygirls

(image taken from Scholastic website)

Another fun and funny book to use for folktale comparisons is this takeoff on The Three Billy Goats Gruff. The three Grubb sisters are skipping across the bridge on their way to school; underneath the bridge lies Ugly-Boy Bobby. Ugly-Boy Bobby is placated by the promise of enormous quantities of doughnuts from the biggest Grubb sister…but her demand sends him running off to school to be a model student for all his days. This is one of my top favorite read alouds for elementary school; witty and a delight to share.

 

what_criedgranny

(image taken from Scholastic website)

Kate Lum’s tall tale of a rather peculiar (yet extremely resourceful) granny is a rollicking read aloud. Patrick and Granny are pumped for his first-ever sleepover at her house…until he realizes that he has no bed. Or pillow. Or even a teddy bear. Never mind–Granny sews and hammers everything into place. But there’s a consequence to all this frantic activity! (I won’t spoil the ending–it’s too great.)

 

I could go on and on (I didn’t even cover chapter books), but I want to know about your favorite funny stories for young readers. Picture books, easy readers, chapter books, joke books–let’s dish!

 

 

5 comments

  1. Sigrid

    My favorite funny book: “Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock” by Eric Kimmel. Trickster Anansi the Spider uses a strange moss-covered rock to trick the other animals into saying, “Isn’t this a strange moss-covered rock?” – whereupon each animal passes out and Anansi steals their food. In the end, Little Bush Deer uses the magic rock to teach Anansi a lesson. Kids think the “KA-POM!” as each animal passes out is funny, and the exchange between Little Bush Deer and Anansi is hilarious.

  2. Renee Perron

    I love My Lucky Day by Keiko Kasza. A pig mistakenly knocks on the door of a fox. The fox thinks it is his lucky day and starts to prepare the pig for his dinner. But the pig says he is dirty, so the the fox gives him a bath. The pig says his body is tough, so the fox gives him a massage so his meat will be tender to eat. And the pig says he is skinny, so the fox feeds him a big meal so his dinner will be plump. The pig tires the fox out and runs away! On the last page of the book, we find the pig with a list of animals he wants to visit to trick….a bear, a wolf, etc.

  3. Jennifer Schultz

    Sigrid–Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock is one of my favorites to read aloud on literacy nights and school visits! Renee–I’m familiar with Keiko Kasza, but I don’t remember My Lucky Day. Will definitely put it on my reading list. Thank you!

  4. Kary Henry

    Speaking of Keiko Kasza… Don’t Laugh, Joe! is a favorite. Anything by Jan Thomas. The chapter book Prince of the Pond: Otherwise Known as De Fawg Pin by Donna Jo Napoli has many laugh-out-loud moments. But my family’s most recent read-aloud, The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage, had me laughing so hard at times that I simply couldn’t read out loud!

  5. Leslie Guhl

    Yes, Kary Henry, Jan Thomas’ uncluttered pictures are a perfect set up for her punch lines. By contrast, the show-and-tell theme of Rotten Teeth by Laura Simms has wonderful illustrations by David Catrow that challenge children to search for all the oddities, like an elephant mowing the lawn or a lamp with a rabbit base and carrot pull string. First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg keeps the identity of the person nervous about the first day of school hidden until the last page. Jon Stone has 2 winners in The Monster At the End of This Book, and it’s follow-up Another Monster At the End of This Book. Sesame Street character Grover pleads with the reader to stop turning pages so we do not reach the monster. In the sequel Elmo wants the adventure of seeing the monster, but Grover still tries to obstruct you from turning pages. A sure-fire hit for the pre-schooler is Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberly.

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