What’s So Funny?
There is no one who loves a good laugh more than the young. They giggle over knock-knock jokes like they were the ones who created them. They double over laughing at silly pranks, and look for hilarious stories to share with one another. Since April is National Humor Month, I thought it appropriate to offer program ideas to help young patrons focus on the lighter side of life. The nation has been celebrating National Humor Month since 1976 with the idea of making the public aware of the importance of laughter. Before searching for humorous books to recommend to the young, think about how the concept of “funny” changes as children get older. You can discover this by asking various age groups to share something funny that happened to them in the past month. What is so funny about what they share? Is there a difference in how boys and girls see humor? Do you see humor in what they are sharing? After identifying the “funny” side of the young, try these programming ideas:
- Display books of humorous poetry. Divide readers into small groups and ask them to select a poem to perform as a choral reading. Suggest that they make a hat or a prop that best characterizes the humor in the poetry. Books from Random House include:
For Laughing Out Loud: Poems to Tickle Your Funnybone (all ages) by Jack Prelutsky
Revolting Rhymes (all ages) by Roald Dahl
- Many readers find humor in simple nonsense. Ask readers to share a nonsensical book that appeals to their funnybone. Readers of all ages may gravitate to books by Dr. Seuss.
- Introduce humorous picture books to the youngest readers. Select a few to read aloud and ask them to tell you why they think the books are funny. Suggestions from Random House include:
Anatole by Eve Titus & illus. by Paul Galdone
Erroll by Hannah Shaw
Hugo and the Really, Really, Really Long String by Bob Boyle
Frederick by Leo Lionni
Pirates vs. Cowboys by Aaron Reynolds & illus. by David Barneda
The Wicked Big Toddlah by Kevin Hawkes
- Display humorous books for beginning readers. Have them select one to read and then ask them to draw a funny scene from the book. Suggestions from Random House include:
Are You My Mother? By P. D. Eastman
Have You Seen My Dinosaur? By Jon Surgal & illus. by Joe Mathieu
Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park
Porky and Bess by Ellen Weill and Mel Friedman & illus. by Marsha Winborn
- Older readers respond to humor in many different ways. Sometimes they find delight in specific scenes in novels, and other times they find humor in the characters. Suggest that they locate several humorous books and identify the humor in each novel. Suggestions from Random House include:
Chomp (ages 9-12) by Carl Hiaasen
Dogs Don’t Tell Jokes (ages 9-12) by Louis Sachar
The Elevator Family (ages 8-11) by Doouglas Evans
The Fast and Furriest (ages 9-12) by Andy Behrens
Flipped (ages 9-12) by Wendelin Van Draanen
I Don’t Believe It, Archie! (ages 9-12) by Andrew Norriss & illus. by Hannah Shaw
The Willoughbys (ages 9-12) by Lois Lowry
Crash Test Love (YA) by Ted Michael
My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan (YA) by Sean Rudetsky
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (YA) by Rachel Cohen & David Levithan
Spanking Shakespeare (YA) by Jake Wizner & illus. by Richard Ewing
Teen Angst? Naaah… (YA) by Ned Vizzin
- Sponsor a contest called “What’s So Funny?” Allow each reader to submit one title for the contest. Then ask all readers to read the books and vote. Have a winner for elementary, middle and young adult readers.
- Enlist the help of readers of all ages to create a bibliography of “funny” books to post on the library’s website as a resource for families.