William Watson called April in his poem the month of “golden laughter.” With that in mind, here are some lighthearted books that children can enjoy this April and beyond.
‘Knock Knock Who’s There: My First Book of Knock Knock Jokes’ by Tad Hills
This knock-knock book has simple jokes with lift-out flaps to make it more interactive.
‘101 Jokes for Math Geeks’ by Elias Hill
This book is a great way to have a little fun with a subject that I feel can be too serious: Why was the geometry class so tired? (They were out of shape.)
‘Laugh Attack!: The Biggest, Best Joke Book Ever by Highlights
This 352-page super-sized collection of time-tested jokes is from the editors of Highlights, a popular children’s magazine.
(Teacher’s note: Try asking your children to use the thesaurus to substitute other words for those in the jokes to help them acquire a more extensive vocabulary).
Children’s Books to Make Children Laugh
‘Don’t Make Me Laugh’ by James Stevenson
Readers are ordered to return to the front of the book whenever they laugh at the characters’ antics. It is quite likely that the reader may never reach the end.
‘Dragons Love Tacos’ by Adam Rubin
A hysterically funny book featuring the impossible situation of friendly dragons eating tacos and enjoying themselves, except when there is spicy salsa on top of the tacos.
‘Clack, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type’ by Doreen Cronin
If the sound effects in “Clack, Clack” don’t have you giggling, then this utterly absurd story about a farmer negotiating with cows that love to type will.
‘How to Babysit a Grandma’ and ‘How to Babysit a Grandpa’ by Jean Reagan
The humor comes from the role reversals depicted in the book. Children and their grandparents will enjoy picturing themselves in the situations talked about.
‘Interrupting Chicken’ by David Ezra Stein
Winner of the 2011 Caldecott honor award, this book features a little red chicken that keeps interrupting her papa as he tells bedtime stories. She does so because she wants to save the hapless characters from doing some dangerous or silly things. Finally, Papa has no more bedtime stories to tell. Little Chicken then decides to tell him a story. Papa doesn’t interrupt her but falls asleep. The humor comes from the irony of this, the illustrations, and the fun when anticipating what happens each time the little red chicken interrupts her father.
‘The Hoboken Chicken Emergency’ by Daniel Pinkwater
This is the revised version of the 1977 original which, for many years, I read to my class and found myself laughing along with my students. Young Arthur sets out to get a turkey for Thanksgiving and winds up getting a chicken weighing 266 pounds for a pet instead. This book is full of adventure and is ridiculously silly.
‘Mr. Popper’s Penguins’ by Richard and Florence Atwater
An extraordinary children’s book, a real classic, “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” has not been updated, but the humor in it is timeless. It is about the adventures of a house painter and his penguins. My classes loved it.
Fractured Fairy Tales
A fractured fairy tale is a fairy tale that has been modified in such a way as to make the audience laugh.
‘Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs: As Retold by Mo Willems’ by Mo Willems
A great spin on the original, readers learn a very valuable lesson about not wandering into strange place, but all Goldilocks has to say for herself is if you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave.
‘Believe Me, I Never Felt a Pea!’ by Nancy Loewen
Here is a book with a modern take on the princess tale. The queen was looking for a wife for her son because she didn’t want the prince to go into business. The queen felt a spoiled, pampered princess was just what was needed to distract the prince. After a hysterical search for a spoiled princess, along comes Starla, who took shelter in the palace and fell off 20 mattresses because there was no guardrail and not because of a pea. What followed was a royal marriage and the prince and Starla becoming partners in the selling of mattresses.
‘Seriously, Cinderella Is SO Annoying!’ by Trisha Speed Shaskan
This Cinderella spoof written from the stepmother’s point of view will make the reader giggle. It ends by saying that the prince didn’t know what he was getting himself into, but that she and her daughters lived happily ever after (when Cindy was gone).
April is not only the time to laugh, but it is also National Poetry Month. Funny poetry features word play and new, delightful words. The sounds can be exceptional and children can clap out the rhythm.
‘The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear’ by Edward Lear
A humorous poem consisting of five lines, limericks are a joy to read and write. Lear’s book is a compilation of every nonsense book written by Edward Lear, the pioneer of this poetic form. Readers will find this book highly entertaining.
‘Be Glad Your Nose Is on Your Face: And Other Poems: Some of the Best of Jack Prelutsky’ by Jack Prelusky
This is a perfect example of Jack Prelutsky’s work with more than 100 of his most celebrated verses, along with 15 all-new poems.
Linda Wiegenfeld is a retired teacher. One of her favorite sayings is “Laugh, and the world laughs with you,” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. She can be reached for comments or suggestions at [email protected]