Don’t you love that Pixar and Disney movies always throw in a bit of humour that appeals to adults? A couple of laughs make it more bearable to be sitting in that theatre, with your shoes sticking to the drink splattered floor and your elbows bumping those restless kiddies squirming in their seats. Transfer this humour to Children’s Literature and you’ve got a magic recipe. A giggle or two in kids’ books makes them more enjoyable to read again and again AND AGAIN to those eager little ears. And some humour helps you laugh along with your tween as you discus their latest read.
As you begin planning those summer vacations and afternoons by the pool, here’s a list of eight amusing books recommended from birth to teenager, which also appeal to adults. The audio book versions of the novels for older kids are a great way to pass the time on the road and let the whole family enjoy a literary experience together.
1) Hug, by Jez Alborough (Ages birth–3, plus adult)
This charming picture book is almost wordless, but manages to tell an adorable tale. My toddler is all giggles when I fake-cry with the little monkey protagonist and we both celebrate at the triumphant ending. A tiny story filled with joy, which my toddler asks for by name!
2) I Love You Stinky Face, by Lisa McCourt (Ages 1-7, plus adult)
This is a favourite bedtime book that will inspire chuckles for both the reader and the listener. A mommy tucks her little one into bed and reassures him that her love is unconditional and there is no situation that could change it. This tale lends itself to some goofy voices and has an enchanting message.
3) Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, By Mo Williems (Ages 1-7, plus adult)
My book club was talking about great adult books and some how this title came up. The energy level in the room immediately began buzzing as those familiar with this book started to sing its praises. In this great read-aloud, the bus driver takes a break and pigeon tries to fill in. The pigeon uses every bit of persuasion at its wingtips to attempt to sway the reader to let him drive, leading to audience participation and lots of laughs. If you love this tale as much as I do, there are more pigeon books to delight in. “Bus,” as my daughter calls this book, has recently been surpassed in my house by, “Hot Dog” (The Pigeon Finds a Hotdog, by Mo Williems), a book that, at 16-months, my daughter has already memorized and says along as I read.
4) Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, By Kevin Henkes (Ages 4-9, plus adult)
I love all the Kevin Henkes mouse books, but Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse is our family’s favourite. This story resonates with me as a teacher since Lilly wants to be the best little mouse in school, but her new toys from Grammy prove to be a very tempting distraction. Lilly’s expressiveness gets her into trouble. Henkes accompanies his humorous dialogue with equally amusing drawings to elicit ear-to-ear grins from the audience.
5) Artemis Fowl Series, by Eoin Colfer (Ages 9-14, plus adult)
Artemis Fowl is a teenage genius, a criminal mastermind, and an entertaining anti-hero. He is involved in such exploits as capturing the police captain, who just happens to be a fairy, and standing up to the Russian Mafia. Fowl’s bodyguard, Butler, makes for a lovable sidekick. Artemis finds himself in the midst of all kinds of adventures and with his clever quips and charming demeanour, he endears himself to readers of all ages. There are eight books in the series, giving you lots of chances to laugh along with your kids.
6) Percy Jackson Books, by Rick Riordan (Ages 9-14, plus adult)
Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a series of five books, although there have also been a few spin-off series and supporting books created. At the beginning of the series, Percy is a troubled 12-year-old, growing up without a dad and struggling with learning issues. He soon discovers he is actually the son of Poseidon, the Greek God of the Sea. Percy is just a regular kid, thrown into the life of a demi-god and managing all the exploits that come with his new-found title. All the characters are very relatable and entertain with their own brand of comedy. The series is full of adventure and lots of tongue-in-cheek humour to entertain readers of all ages.
7) The Fault in our Stars, by John Green (Ages 14 and up, plus adult)
You wouldn’t think a story about teenagers fighting cancer would end up on a list of humorous books, but John Green writes in such a wonderfully engaging voice that the reader is able to laugh through the tragedy. The characters are startlingly real portrayals of teenagers, and they immediately work their way into the reader’s hearts. This book is difficult to put down and even more difficult to forget. The movie of this one is about to launch, so read it quickly before it gets swooped up into all that Hollywood glamour.
8) Beauty Queens, by Libba Bray (Age 16 and up)
When fifty teenage beauty queens crash land on a seemingly deserted island, the hijinks begin. This satirical comedy mocks beauty pageants, reality TV, advertising, and arms dealing, just to name a few. Couched in a plot of adventure and good versus evil, the ridiculous characters manage to learn a thing or two about life. This book is good fun and may even lead to some discussions with your teens about what people value in life.
Laughter and learning go hand in hand. Go on, grab a great book and enjoy the journey!