Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

Storytime Books That Will Make Grownups Laugh

Storytime is an integral part of being a children’s librarian. One of the biggest frustrations I’ve come across is keeping the grownups engaged. From ALSC’s Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee (ECPS) Cookies and Conversation, one way to engage parents is by reading books with jokes that adults will also find funny.

In my experience, finding books that are engaging for children, but can still make an adult chuckle is not easy. After only coming up with a few on my own, I asked some librarian friends for help. Here are a few favorite storytime reads that are fun for both the children and the adults.

Storytime for 2-5-year-olds – These books are shorter and tell a simple tale in fewer words.

Bark, George by Jules Feiffer

A classic storytime book, which is excellent for making silly animal sounds. The ending implication is very humorous.

Hungry Hen by Richard Waring

A short story about a little red hen getting bigger and bigger, as the hungry fox waits to attack. The surprise ending will give any grown up a chuckle. 

I Just Ate My Friend by Heidi McKinnon 

This simple story about a monster who is looking for a new friend after eating his other one. Very short and silly.

The Little Red Cat That Ran Away and Learned His ABC’s (The Hard Way) by Patrick McDonnell

An alphabet book that follows a cat’s hilarious journey through a kingdom. The details in the pictures that represent the letter on each page make for a funny interactive opportunity.

Shake the tree by Chiara Vignocchi, Paolo Chiarinotti, and Silvia Borando

Interactive and repetitive, this book is all about a mouse just trying to shake a nut out of the tree. Fortunately for readers, the tree is holding many animal surprises that make it comical.

That is Not a Good Idea by Mo Willems

One of my personal favorites, it is formatted like a silent movie, where a hungry fox, invites a plump goose to dinner. The refrain allows everyone to call out in the story, and the illustrations and ending are amusing.

Storytime for five-year-olds and older – These books are a little longer, which may be better for preschool and elementary-aged kids.

BE QUIET! by Ryan T. Higgins

Meant to be a wordless book, Rupert’s two mice friends keep ruining the book by talking. Introducing elements of literature, the interactions, and conversations between the mice are hysterical, and the illustrations add to the humor.

Chip Off the Old Block by Jody Jensen Shaffer

Rocky, the pebble, is trying to find his place in the world, and his journey across America is a bit rough. The humor of this book comes from the many, many rock puns.

Spoon by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Spoon doesn’t feel special and is jealous of all the other utensils. Adults will find humor in what the utensils think of each other, the spoon double entendre, and the details in the pictures.

Stephanie’s Ponytail by Robert Munsch

The other kids call Stephanie’s ponytail ugly. So she changes her ponytail, only to find they keep copying her. The prank she pulls at the end is hysterical.

Tyrannosaurus Rex vs. Edna the Very First Chicken by Douglas Rees

T-Rex is a bully, and the only one not afraid is Edna, the very first chicken. Just the idea of a chicken fighting a T-Rex is funny, but the story and illustrations make it hilarious.

The Very Impatient Caterpillar by Ross Burach

With a touch of STEM and a lesson on patience, grownups will find the similarities between the impatient caterpillars and their children quite amusing. Silly voices make this even better!

What are some of your favorite storytime books that also make adults laugh?

Tori Ann Ogawa is a youth services librarian at Kitsap Regional Library in Washington and is writing this post for the ALSC Early Childhood Services and Programs Committee. You can tweet her @ToriOgawa.

This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies:  III. Programming Skills.


  1. David J. Burgt

    Excellent books. I would also recommend, Wonky Donky, The Book with No Pictures, Click, Clack, Moo Cows that Type, Duck for President. They are all great on different levels.

  2. Mary

    I find that getting kids engaged and listening to their comments makes adults pay attention and engaged as well.

  3. Rachel Sarjeant-Jenkins

    This post reminded me of a couple of ‘storytimes’ that I have experience as an adult. Not quite the same as the challenges that children’s librarians have when they need to engage both youngsters and adults – but helps to confirm that picture books can resonate with adults for sure.

    the first was a during a professional development day held at a public library I worked at a number of years ago. To start off the day, our chief librarian read us the book On Your Potty! He had a roomful of adults laughing until they cried. It was awesome. So much of how to engage both adults and children is in how you read!
    the second was at a different library and it was the start of collective agreement negotiations for our staff. To help set a tone of informality and connectedness, one our shop stewards (who worked in the children’s department) read Click Clack Moo Cows that Type. How better to start negotiations within a library than with storytime! I was on the management side at that time. I loved watching the face of the union president – storytime in negotiations was definitely a new experience but it helped to raise the level of discussion and conversation.

  4. PhilisAnn

    It’s been almost 2 decades since I was a Children’s Librarian, planning which books to use for Story Times. But a Robert Munsch book that always had everyone cracking up was “Purple, Green & Yellow”. Trying to be a responsible user of drawing markers can be a challenge for anyone!

  5. Andy

    I know it’s not a book recommendation, but I definitely try to include some (very clean, obviously) adult humor during storytimes, just to keep the caregivers engaged. For an example, if there’s a book I’m reading, and the character is rattling off things they hate, I’ll throw in “potholes” or “taxes” or something. Not award-winning comedy, of course, but it keeps the grownups awake. 🙂

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