No one can resist a good laugh. It’s the heal-all medicine that can cure a bad day or lighten the mood in a matter of minutes. Busting out a dose of silliness is a parenting hack that works wonders and one that I too often forget to use. But can I let you in on a little secret? Personally, I don’t find many children’s books funny. Gasp! I know, I said it. And I feel a little embarrassed to admit that, but I need to be completely honest. That is my disclaimer.
For example, potty humor doesn’t amuse me (although most kids of a certain age love it). Also, books that force the reader to say nonsense words drive me nuts. Humor is wildly subjective, and that’s okay. That said, I think these books are all pretty top-notch. I love them. My kids love them. We’ve read them aloud to friends and given them as gifts. Keep one in your back pocket for those days (or years) when you need a good laugh!
1 | BALLET CAT: DANCE! DANCE! UNDERPANTS! BY BOB SHEA
Ballet Cat instructs Butter Bear on how to do a super-high leap. Reluctant Bear, however, continues to make excuse after excuse about why she can’t leap like her friend. Cat’s exasperated facial expressions will undoubtedly resonate with most parents, as will the most humorous line in the book when Bear asks Cat for a drink that is hard to make and takes a long time. When at last we learn why Bear is scared to leap, Cat takes matters into her own hands and quiets the audience that has come to peep at Bear’s underpants. A marvelous book for both beginning readers and their caregivers.
2 | DUCKWORTH, THE DIFFICULT CHILD BY MICHAEL SUSSMAN
One morning Duckworth awakes to find a snake hiding in his closet. When Duckworth tells his parents about the problem, they ignore his pleas for assistance and ask him to continue his chores. Soon Duckworth finds himself inside the cobra, but he still cannot convince his parents that there is, in fact, a snake, and he is not wearing a costume. The self-absorbed and by-the-book parents cannot be persuaded, and so Duckworth must figure out his own solution. With art-deco inspired illustrations and a message of attentiveness in an age of distraction, this is a tale for the entire family.
3 | WE DON’T EAT OUR CLASSMATES BY RYAN T. HIGGINS
Penelope Rex, a young tyrannosaurus, is anxious to start her first day of school. Her mother buys her a new backpack. Her father packs her a hearty lunch. And off she goes. However, when she discovers that all her classmates are children, well, the temptation to eat them is too difficult to resist. A humorous tale beloved by adults and children alike. If you want to give a book that will be reread all year long, this is the one. Also, don’t miss the equally humorous sequel.
4 | I JUST ATE MY FRIEND BY HEIDI MCKINNON
A monster-like creature is on the hunt for a new friend (after disclosing that yes, in fact, it recently ate its old one). With this secret openly revealed, the yellow monster asks an assortment of creatures to be its friend. Yet everyone it encounters rejects it for one reason or another. When at last friendship has been found, the twist ending sheds insight into this particular creature’s strange habits. A short but satisfying funny read.
5 | WEE HEE HEE: A COLLECTION OF PRETTY FUNNY JOKES AND PICTURES BY WEE SOCIETY
Maybe it’s cheating to put a joke book on the list, but this oversized collection is a great one. It’s filled with colorful images of kid-appropriate jokes like, “What musical instrument is in your bathroom? A tuba toothpaste.” The book also includes a section at that back that allows kids to record different reactions they get when telling select jokes. We break this out every Halloween because our neighborhood has a tradition of telling jokes while trick-or-treating.
6 | THE WOLF, THE DUCK, & THE MOUSE BY MAC BARNETT
One morning a young mouse is quickly gobbled up by a wolf. In the wolf’s belly, the mouse moans over his fate but is surprised to meet a duck, a duck who is busy trying to sleep. Soon the new companions are conversing over breakfast at a beautifully set, tablecloth-clad table. Later the two make soup and have a dance party, and when a lone hunter threatens their safe sanctuary, the mouse and duck concoct a plan to defend their home. With expressive images, this wryly wrought tale is sure to elicit a chuckle.
7 | YUMMERS! BY JAMES MARSHALL
Emily Pig is discouraged when she steps on the scale and notices she’s gaining weight. Her friend, Eugene, suggests they go on a walk since walking is the best form of exercise. What follows is an account of tempting diversions and laughable logic. Perhaps the very best book I’ve ever found just by perusing the library shelves.
8 | THE PERFECT SIESTA BY PATO MENA
It’s a hot day in the jungle, and jaguar decides a little siesta in the cool breeze is just what he wants, so he asks a nearby coati (a diurnal mammal native to South and Central America) to wake him in exactly 10 minutes. The coati, in turn, decides a nap would be nice, so he asks the cockatiel to wake him in 10 minutes. Finally, the cockatiel hopes for a snooze like her jungle companions and asks the sloth to stand guard as the one that will wake her in 10 minutes. Will the sleepy sloth be up to the task? Be prepared to bust out your BIGGEST snore with this funny read-aloud.
9 | COME HOME ALREADY! BY JORY JOHN
If the two previous titles in this series weren’t enough to convince adult readers how much Bear resembles a weary parent and Duck the ever-optimistic, tiresome child, then I suppose that spot-on resemblance is more a reflection of my own life than yours. Still, the series is best read-aloud with vocal inflections. This book, in particular, is a sheer delight of a tale that demonstrates Duck’s aptitude in finding his friend, who probably didn’t really need a week of solitude camping in the first place. A tongue-in-cheek delight for children of all ages.
10 | GIVE ME BACK MY BOOK BY TRAVIS FOSTER
Bloo insists that Redd has taken his book. Redd insists that the book belongs to him. Redd extolls the many features of his green book (its spine, cover, pages, letters, table of contents, and chapters) to convince Bloo that the book is, in fact, his. However, one bent page changes everything, and soon the book is snatched by Ms. Bookworm. What follows is a clever truce between Bloo and Redd, all to recover the beloved green book. Bonus points for doing Redd’s voice in a hoighty-toighty accent.