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Friday, April 1, 2011

Humor in Children's Books: Laugh Out Loud Favorites

Most of the reluctant readers that come into the Youth Services area of the library tend to sing the same song: Books are not fun! Whenever that song starts coming out of a child's mouth, it's time for an intervention. What these lost readers need are books that will capture their imagination as well make them smile. Not all authors can pull off humor effectively but those who do will hook the reader in by the first page. There are many types of humor, such as sarcastic, slapstick and silly. Humor in books is a perfect genre to demonstrate that reading can be fun. Contrary to popular belief, humor in children's literature does not begin in chapter books. Over the years many authors have cleverly used humor, in words and illustrations, to entertain their readers. If the funny bone is tickled, chances are the reader will move from reluctant to reaching for another book.

There are very good picture books to introduce to children who are learning to read but find it a tedious task. Doreen Cromin's Click Clack Moo i, a tale of labor negotiations between Farmer Brown and the striking cows, has become a story time favorite. Children giggle as the frustrated farmer tries to come a "reasonable" solutions with his very literate cows. All ends well, until the ducks decides to make demands too! Another picture book whose star is a literate cow is Adventures of Cow. marshall Taylor uses a play on words and humorous pictures to tell the tale of how Cow gets lost and finds his way home. The sequel to this title is Adventures of Cow, Too.. Both books are well worth the time to read and share. Even with older children who love a good laugh and will catch the play on words.

A different take on a well known fairy tale will have children rolling on the floor. This book has been around for a while, but it is a testament to it's ageless appeal. Jon Sciexka's True Story of he 3 Little Pigs is told by the Wolf himself who defends his actions of blowing down the pigs' houses. He's been framed. The unique few point allows the reader to wonder if indeed the poor wolf has been wrongly accused and misunderstood. More often then not, no matter how sly and silly the wolf is in telling his side, the little pigs still win the verdict.

To chase away the monster fears which plague many small children, Sean Taylor uses humor in When A Monster is Born. This bright, hilarious look at the monster world will have children begging for the kind of monster who lives under their bed. Who couldn't love a monster who goes to school, eats the principal and falls in love. This book is wonderful for story time because the refrain "That's that" encourages the kids to join in the fun.

17 Things I Am Not Allowed to do Anymore is Jenny Offil's tribute to a little girl who just can't stay out of trouble. This book is not for the faint hearted. Some of the heroine's brilliant ideas are absolutely hilarious. However, little minds who are seeking inspiration may get ideas about flies in ice cubes, stapling siblings' hair to a pillow or gluing slippers on the floor to keep them in place. Sure they are all innocent and seem like a good idea at the time, but actions have consequences. This is a wonderful laugh out loud book that parents will enjoy reading with their kids. However, before opening up the book, they may want to warn their audience to not try this at home.

Reading does not have to be a serious task. Moving children from the reluctant to the reaching for new book category can be as simple as using the "laugh" factor. Let's face it, no one likes doing things they do not enjoy. Children are no different. Discover what "quacks" up the reluctant reader in your life and watch their attitude change when it comes to reading.
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