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.