That’s Too Funny! What Kids Read for Fun
By Jennifer Bergen, Program and Children’s Services Manager
Look at some of the most popular books for kids and you will see recurring themes of comedy accompanied by humorous illustrations in the likes of Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants and Dog Man series. Even Garfield has stood the test of time. The NYT Bestseller list for children’s picture books last week features titles like “Not Quite Narwhal,” “The Day the Crayons Quit,” “Grumpy Monkey,” and “Dragons Love Tacos.” This is fun reading that will make grown-ups smile, too.
I believe kids are drawn to humor for some of the same reasons as adults. Life can be pretty heavy, and lots of things can go wrong. We all need a reason to smile and laugh, and we need a way to poke fun at life to lighten things up. However, the type of humor enjoyed by adults and kids can be quite different, and it may be hard to get excited about your child reading the Fart Quest series (yes, that really exists), but do not despair. This doesn’t mean your child will never enjoy classic literature. It just means that right now, your child is seeking a way to feel lighthearted and forget about their troubles, and bodily function jokes might just do the trick.
Here are a few series and titles on the LOL radar you may want to try:
The Planet Omar series by Zanib Mian with illustrations by Nasaya Mafaradik and Kyan Cheng – Omar’s big imagination can cause crazy nightmares, but it also helps him find solutions and get out of bad situations. As Omar makes friends in a new school, deals with a bully, and endures his annoying siblings, he finds humor in every day situations at home and school. Being Muslim is part of his daily life, which is both routine and different from most of his friends, bringing out themes of acceptance, understanding and celebrating diversity. Fans of “The Terrible Two” by Jory John and Mac Barnett will likely see eye to eye with Omar.
The Treehouse series by Andy Griffiths, illustrated by Terry Denton – Australian creators Griffiths and Denton go totally farcical with their ever-growing treehouse where anything crazy can, and does, happen. “The 13-Story Treehouse” is the starting point, and with each book it grows another 13 stories, so the latest release, book 11, is “The 143-Story Treehouse.” Readers “can expect the unexpected,” says Griffiths, such as the treehouse being abducted by a giant flying eyeball and flung through space. And it keeps getting better and better. Kids who enjoy “Sideways Stories from Wayside School” by Louis Sachar will love this wacky treehouse.
The Cranky Chicken series by Katherine Battersby – This hilarious graphic novel was recommended by a young reader who says Chicken is way high on the crank-o-meter, and the only one who can talk her down is Speedy the worm. First, they have to find something to eat that doesn’t upset Chicken. For example, food that is jiggly or food with holes. “Where has the food from the holes gone? Holes raise too many questions.” If you loved and laughed at “Narwhal and Jelly” by Ben Clanton, Cranky Chicken might be your next best thing.
“Mister Fairy” by Morgane de Cadier – Many fairies live in the forest, illustrated here as tiny animals with wings, but “then, there’s Mister Fairy,” a scowling elephant fairy who cannot seem to make any magic. Upset and disappointed, he leaves his home and discovers a gloomy city that sure could use some happiness. Perhaps Mister Fairy will also discover something new about himself.
“Off Limits” by Helen Yoon – This picture book explores a kids very favorite place to be…a room that is off limits! When Dad leaves his office door open, the child finds amazing things like scotch tape, paperclips and sticky notes. What could be more fun?
“Goldie’s Guide to Grandchilding” by Clint McElroy, illustrated by Eliza Kinkz – You may have never thought about the big responsibility of handling your grandparent, but Goldie knows all the rules. Keep toys simple, do not introduce video games, and do go out to eat together. Also, watch out for unannounced toots! In fact, Goldie and her grandpa are pretty perfect companions.
Enjoy some silly reading time together this summer with books that make you laugh out loud. And don’t forget to stop by the library to get your summer reading prizes this week.