Make Them Laugh. Help Them Read.

by Ann Jacobus on December 31, 2013

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It’s Humor month at ReaderKidZ, my favorite time of year! Funny books have great power with children, especially emerging or reluctant readers. If you can get them laughing, we think you’ve got them hooked.

The idea that a group of letters, usually in concert with images, can kapow the funny bone and produce a laugh from deep in the abdomen of a six-year-old, is in itself a mind-blowing concept. We adults are used to it. But imagine discovering that power for the first time.

The Pigeon Needs a Bath

A fish searching for its hat, or a pigeon that throws a fit? Cows that type? Dinosaurs that cut up at Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Wattschool? A stinky cheese man? A squirrel more anxious and afraid than the reader? Regular old girls and boys who get in big trouble (or run around in underpants) and… a talking toilet?! Mwhaaahahahahah.

Yes, humor is subjective, but our favorite authors know where kids live when it comes to the giggles. Some of us adults live there, too. The bad news is that some children never outgrow potty humor. (I’m sorry, but they’re often males and some of them are in my family.)

You may have noticed that much of what gets young readers guffawing is characters acting up–questioning authority, and breaking rules, intentionally or un. Or at least being silly. Kids are struggling to get a grip on self-control, hygiene, safety, and group behavior that they must master in their families, schools, and peer groups. Their whole lives revolve around being told what to do. How reassuring and what a relief to see a character question and thwart all that, and then have everything come out okay in the end.


Laughter looks fear and pain right in the face safely. It reminds us that we are all human (even disguised as cows and pigeons and dinosaurs).  Children can shrink their worries and the sometimes overwhelming and humiliating world, down to size for a bit, when they read a picture book with you and laugh.

Make them laugh. Help them read.

Stephanie Greene January 2, 2014 at 6:41 am

Nice, Ann!! Funny, smart and true.

Ann Jacobus January 2, 2014 at 9:17 am

Thanks, Stephanie! I think you know this in your bones and practice it in every book you write.

Barbara Younger January 2, 2014 at 10:11 am

Sense of humor is an amazing human quality. I’ve enjoyed so much watching it emerge in my baby grandson. Let’s hear it for funny books!

And happy New Year Ann! (And everyone)

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