Whether you’re a parent or a teacher, there’s nothing quite like a really good, funny picture book to help you bond with your kids. Laughing together is a great way to strengthen your relationship, as well as helping foster a love of reading in kids. Humor is a great way to make learning fun, and the more fun kids are having, the better they retain new material.
There are plenty of books that kids find funny that make adults just want to roll their eyes (for example, the no-pants page in “No David”, or anything SpongeBob). There is a time and place for books like that (I guess), but what I really value are books that are clever, clean (i.e. no potty humor), that kids love, and that make me, as an adult, genuinely laugh too. The books on this list are all funny stories that I enjoy- and I hope you will, as well!
So without further ado, here is my list of
Children’s Books that Get Everyone Giggling!
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by Sean Taylor
Hoot Owl (who takes himself SUPER seriously) keeps flying around the woods trying to catch animals by dressing up in progressively more ridiculous costumes. Kids love the bold illustrations and predictable patterns. Adults will love the overwrought similes (“The night stretches away from me, as black as burnt toast”) and other ridiculous phrases (“The lamb looks cuddly, but soon I will be eating it.”) In case you were worried, there is a happy ending when he finally catches… a pizza! I dare you to make it through this funny story without chuckling.
by Kelly Bingham
Zebra is in charge of an alphabet pageant. He has all the letters lined up and ready to go on stage one at a time. The book starts with A is for Apple, then B is for ball… but whoops! Moose pushes duck out of the way and shows up on D. Zebra shoos him off, but then he keeps popping up and asking “Is it my turn yet?” as the representatives of the other letters stoically try to go on. Then, when it finally gets to M… it’s for mouse! Zebra says “I’m sorry, we’ve decided to go with mouse this time”- to which Moose responds with a massive temper tantrum. Kids will empathize with the moose’s out-of-control emotions (and you might empathize with poor Zebra, who’s just trying to hold things together in the middle of this meltdown). It’s such a clever concept, and so well done. You and your kids will definitely be laughing together at Moose’s antics, and the sweet resolution is sure to make everyone smile.
by Kevin Henkes
This book is about a new baby brother with a jealous sibling. Ninety percent of it is standard Kevin Henkes stuff- which is, admittedly, pretty clever. It’s a funny story because it’s so real, down to the poor parents saying “Lilly, let’s restrain ourselves please” when she tries to out-scream the baby. I love the ending, when she loses her temper and yells at her cousin to “Kiss! Stroke! Admire!” her baby brother. However, the thing that sets this book apart is one page. Lilly’s mother asks her to tell the new baby a story and what she comes up with has me in hysterics every time I read it. I won’t copy all of “Julius, the Germ of the World” so you’re going to have to get the book and see for yourself what exactly “earned her ten minutes in the uncooperative chair.” The students at the front of my bus line last year had it memorized because we quoted it to each other so often, that’s how funny it is. Check it out.
by Eugene Trivizas
This reversal of the classic fairy tale is a funny story because of the way it escalates- they start with a brick house, which the pig knocks down with a sledgehammer- and work their way up to a fortress with “barbed wire, iron bars, armor plates, and heavy metal padlocks” (which the pig still manages to destroy). There are lots of quirky details, a satisfying explosion, and a surprisingly sweet moral about kindness at the end. This has been a favorite of mine for a long time and is sure to be a hit.
by Mo Willems
Leonardo is a terrible monster because… he couldn’t scare anyone! So he sets out on a mission to find the most scaredy cat kid in the whole world and.. “scare the tuna salad out of him!”
Of course, I consider everything Mo Willems writes to be pure gold (If you haven’t read ““Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” with your kids, I suggest you do so immediately!) but this one has always been my favorite story to read aloud. There’s lots of drama and emotion, ridiculous monster noises, and Sam’s absolutely perfect kid explanation for why he’s crying (I suggest you take a deep breath before you start reading that page). This is another funny story with an unexpectedly great moral about kindness at the end, but there’s enough goofiness before and after to keep it from being sickly sweet. Make sure you read this one with lots of expression and you’ll probably end up reading it just about every day (but you won’t even mind!).
If you end up loving this book as much as I do, make sure to check out our “Leonardo the Terrible Monster” Play-Dough Activity!
By Verna Aardema
This is such a classic folk-tale premise- the big mean coyote is trying to eat this defenseless little lamb, but she keeps outsmarting him with a series of clever tricks. You’ll definitely be rooting for her as she escapes the coyote’s mean, drooly jaws each time. There are colorful and expressive illustrations and lots of bouncy dialogue. I used this book in “Around the World” units, to teach about characters, and even in my force and motion units, but no matter when you’re using it, it’s always a good time.
by Laurie Keller
The premise of this book is really clever- all the states go to a big party, and decide that it would be fun to switch places and see a new part of the country. Of course, once they get to their new locations, there’s all sorts of drama- Minnesota switched with Florida and now she’s getting a sunburn, Iowa’s near the ocean and mad about soggy corn, Nevada and Mississsippi fall in love (he asks, “Do you want to become MRS. Issippi?”). Of course, they eventually all switch back, but the whole journey is full of great little details, both in the pictures and the states’ speech bubbles. Kids will learn a ton about geography, but they’ll be having such a good time they might not even notice!
by Robert Munsch
I’m a big fan of Robert Munsch in general, but this funny story is my favorite (Full disclosure- I started writing about Smelly Socks, but then I remembered this one, which is even better). It has all the great Munsch traits- sound effects, repetition, strong characters, lots of silliness, and surprising logic, but what makes “The Paper Bag Princess” a notch above the rest is the awesome message about girl power. I won’t ruin the ending for you, but I’ll tell you that it’s amazing. Elizabeth is strong and clever and everything we need children’s book characters to be- without compromising the humor one bit.
by Helen Lester
Tacky is an odd bird- he doesn’t do anything nicely like the other penguins, but when a bunch of hunters come, his odd ways scare them off and save the day! Tacky’s gleeful awkwardness is definitely worth a few giggles, but I like the overall message about how his uniqueness makes him just as important as all the penguins that fit in. This is a funny little gem of a book.
by James Marshall
This unique story of two best friends will have you laughing with surprise The problems they encounter- and their solutions- are unexpected and hilarious. This is a classic from my childhood that I still enjoy reading. The book has several little funny stories, some longer than others. In the first one, Martha makes George eat so much split pea soup that he can’t stand it anymore, and pours it into his shoes under the table… and it gets sillier from there. The best part is, no matter how crazy things get, they’re still there for each other.
This is another book with a great moral about being proud of your uniqueness hidden in the humor. Molly Lou Mellon’s grandma has lots of great advice, like “Sing out clear and strong and the world will cry tears of joy” even though she has “a voice like a bullfrog.” Thanks to the great advice, when she moves to a new school and a bully tries to make fun of her, she remains proud until he relents and becomes her friend. The illustrations are exaggerated and cheerful, and the writing is delightfully quirky and fun.
What children’s books get you laughing? Leave a comment and let me know!
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