I won’t go on about all the benefits of laughter or reading, or a combination of the two – what a great combo – but I will suggest a few of my favorite books that are sure to ellicit some smiles, a chuckle or even a giggle or two.
Five minutes’ Peace Jill Murphy
This is a book that will probably make mom laugh just as much as the kid’s. A great way to lighten things up after a long day at home with the little ones stuck to you all day like velcro. In this story, Mrs. Large just wants five minutes of peace, but her three little children have other plans!
The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! Mo Willems
Mo Willems is the new funny guy in town in the world of children’s literature. His pigeon stories will amuse children of all ages. Other books in this series include Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (a Caldecott Honor book), Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay up Late, The Pigeon Needs a Bath. Also by the author, another Caldecott Honor book Knuffle Bunny – A Cautionary Tale.
The book with no pictures by B.J. Novak
Even though I don’t have any copies of his book (it’s still very popular and hard to find used), there is a youtube video of the author reading the book to an auditorium full of school children and if laughter is contagious, you and your children will be laughing along in no time. Go to youtube and type in The Book with no pictures. Enjoy!
50 Below Zero by Robert Munsch
When my kids were little, Robert Munsch was our go-to author for a good laugh. As a Canadian growing up with long, cold winter, he is the master at finding humor in stories involving children and cold weather. In this story, Jason spends the night rescuing his sleepwalking father from disastrous situations. Another hilarious winter story is Thomas’ Snowsuit. My kids also loved The Mud Puddle and Purple, Green and Yellow, and The Alligator Baby. His most popular books include The Paper Bag Princess and Love You Forever.
Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathman
This is one of one of my favorite picture books and the winner of the Caldecott medal. A police dog joins officer Buckle as he visits schools to talk about safety to young children. The officer is amazed at his ability to capture the attention of a group of kids and even make them laugh. However, what he does not realize is that the police dog, Gloria, is acting out everything he says behind his back. Join the school children for a good laugh at Gloria’s antics.
Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish – I’ve talked with many parents who simply can’t stand the Amelia Bedelia books because they have read them over and over again at their children’s request. I myself remember asking my child: “are you sure you want to read Amelia Bedelia?” with a sigh. Amelia Bedelia WILL make your child laugh, and you may even, join in (the first few times). Amelia is a maid who is kind-hearted, enthusiasic and above all a great baker, but takes everything she is asked to do literally. For example, when she is asked to dress the chicken, she dresses the chicken, as you can see in the illustration above. ☺️. At the end of each book, although the family she works for is exasperated with her, all is forgiven, after one bite of her dessert of the day. Kids love books where words or expressions can have several meanings, as they themselves puzzle over these. Another book similar to Amelia Bedelia is A Chocolate Mouse for Dinner by Fred Gwynne, in which a little girl pictures things her parents talk about, such as chocolate moose, car pools, or the story of the tortoise and the “hair”? Also by the same author, The King Who Rained.
Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing by Judi Barrett. In this book, with bright colorful drawings and very little text, the author shows what would happen if animals wore clothing, with hilarious results. Also by this author, Animals Should Definitely Not Act Like People, Never Take a Shark to the Dentist, and Judi Barrett’s most popular book Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, all garanteed to tickle your child’s funny bone.
The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales by John Scieszka & Lane Smith – My son loved these when he was young. These are traditional fairy tales retold, with all the zaniest twists and turns you could ever imagine. A great read-aloud, your family will be rolling with laughter in no time. These two authors also wrote The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, Squids will be Squids – Fresh Morals Beastly Fables, John, Paul, George & Ben and a series of easy chapter books, great for boys and/or reluctant readers, The Time Warp Trio series.
Something Big Has Been Here – poems by Jack Prelusky drawings by James Stephenson Anita Silvey, a children’s literature professor, reviewer, writer and advocate says of Jack Prelusky’s poems:
“With a keen sensitivity to children’s fears, pleasures, and funny bones, this prolific and gifted poet has delivered verses that are capable of converting the staunchest cries “I hate poetry!” into a ceaseless clamoring for more.”
If reading poetry to your child is a new endeavor, I highly recommend Jack Prelusky’s poems. With quirky illustrations by James Stevenson, his poetry is sure to amuse and bring on smiles and chuckles. Also by Prelusky The New Kid on the Block, It’s Raining Pigs & Noodles and A Pizza the size of the Sun.
Chester the Worldly Pig by Bill Peet – If you have not been introduced to the world of Bill Peet, I highly recommend you add some of his books to your home library. He is often compared to Dr. Seuss for his cartoon-like zany creatures, some wildly imaginative, some scarry and some warm and loving. The expressions are his character’s faces are enough to make these books worthwhile. He combines these illustrations with fast-paced adventures, to create fun and hilarious tales for all ages. These are great read-aloud that will have the whole family laughing.
(For a full list of Bill Peet books available go to my book list. I also have a copy of the story of the author’s life, written for children Bill Peet: An Autobiography. A great book for fans of Bill Peet)
The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson – Although not technically a children’s book, this cartoon strip treasury follows the antics of Calvin, a little boy and his pet Tiger, Hobbes. With a wild imagination, care-free spirit, and keen observations of life, these cartoons strips make great light and fun reading for all ages. (See my book list for a complete list of all the Calvin and Hobbes books available)
For a full list of all the humorous books I have available, go to my librarything website and look the the tab “humor”. Take time to laugh today!