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11 Legitimately Funny Books to Read Aloud with Your Kids
Tom Burns is a husband, a dad, and a veteran of the educational publishing industry, living just outside of Detroit Rock City. He’s the founder of BuildingaLibrary.com, a website devoted to helping parents find the right books for their kids. His writing has also been featured on Time Magazine, Reading Rainbow, The Huffington Post, 8BitDad, xoJane, and various other sites, and he has made appearances on “The Meredith Vieira Show” and “HuffPost Live.” Tom aggressively pushes his favorite books on his daughter who, thankfully, reads whatever the heck she wants. You can find him on Twitter @buildalibrary.
How many kids’ books have ever made you straight up LOL?
I can’t count all the great children’s books that have made me smile or even tear up over the years, but I could easily count with just a few fingers the titles that have almost made me shoot milk out of my nose.
If you’re looking to share a few belly laughs while reading with your young ones, here are 11 great kids’ books that really know how to bring the funny.
by B.J. Novak
Before you ask, yes, there really are no pictures in this kids’ book. The author, B.J. Novak from "The Office," admits upfront that a book with no pictures might seem “boring” and “serious,” but he quickly reveals how much power words actually have. “Here is how books work,” he tells us, “Everything the words say, the person reading the book has to say.” And Novak has a lot of fun making the reader do just that, writing lines like “Ba-Dooongy Face!” and “I am a monkey who taught myself to read.” It’s a genius concept and your kids will love watching you submit to the book’s fiendishly funny whims.
by Jon Klassen
Jon Klassen is the Tig Notaro of hat-based humor. His deadpan game is so strong, SO strong, and he’s brought his deceptively dead-on timing to a trilogy of just ridiculously funny picture books. The simple premises are conveyed by the titles — I Want My Hat Back, This Is Not My Hat, and (finally) We Found A Hat — but Klassen’s knack with visual humor make them all pure comedy gold.
by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
William H. Taft is every child’s favorite U.S. President. Or, at least, he becomes their favorite president once they hear the urban legend that, because he was so hefty, Taft actually once got stuck in a White House bathtub. Barnett and Van Dusen turn Taft’s woes into a laugh-out-loud comic caper with the whole government doing their best (and failing) to get the poor president unstuck. (Ideal post-bath-time reading material.)
by Jenny Offill, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
Your children will adore this book and it will make you very, VERY nervous. (Fair warning.) A young girl has begrudgingly created an illustrated list of 17 things that she’s never allowed to do again. 17 things that will have you wondering “WAIT, she actually did that stuff?!” The scenarios are so wicked, funny, and filled with brilliantly sadistic kid logic that you’ll find your children laughing way too hard and find yourself wondering, “Maybe I should’ve read them Goodnight Moon tonight.”
by David Ezra Stein
This book, all about bedtime reading, might actually be too funny to read at bedtime. A little chicken wants her daddy to read her a bedtime story, but she can’t stand to watch her beloved fairy tale characters make mistakes. So she interrupts and interrupts and interrupts — all in an attempt to rewrite her favorite stories. Stein’s book shows kids that being an active participant in storytelling can be both exciting and very, very funny.
by Jon Agee
It’s common knowledge that there are seven steps to becoming a lion. (You didn’t know? Where have you been?) When a rather sheepish boy decides to train with a Lion Expert — that is, a lion — he’s put through his paces: Looking Fierce, Prowling Around, Roaring, Blowing Out That Luxurious Mane, and the like. Kids will love earning their own stripes (or roars?) with the ultimate knowledge that Looking Out for Your Friends is the bravest step of all.
by Keiko Kasza
With goofy twists and an ending you won't see coming, Finders Keepers is a rib-tickling book about a little red hat that is not just an ordinary hat. Every part of the woods wants a piece of this hat; they shout “Finders, keepers!” as soon as it lands nearby. But the hat has other plans in mind, which will amuse your kids to no end.
by Julia Sarcone-Roach
The cover alone is enough to get young readers laughing about this one. Listen, your sandwich is gone — a bear ate it! It was definitely a bear. No doubt about it, 100% a bear. The hilarious story of the bear’s journey to said sandwich is so absorbing, your kids won’t start wondering about a duplicitous narrator until the unexpected, uproarious end.
by Kevin Hawkes
When one “wicked big toddlah” is born in Maine, life will never be the same for the sleepy seaside town. Think Clifford the Big Red Dog, but with babies. Toddie is a totally normal baby boy — besides the simple matters that he bathes in the ocean and has teeth the size of Priuses. This book is made for oversized laughs. Fair warning: avoid beverages (especially milk) while reading.
by Hudson Talbott
For cat families — or families with kids who really, really want a cat, but no thank you — this book is a giggle-inducing cat-fest. An alpha cat shares his feline know-how with younger members of the pride, including all kinds of silly lessons, like how it’s not okay to snack on gerbils, and how The Humans require a lot of purr therapy. An ode to our feline friends (or foes), this one’s sure to be a crowd favorite.
by Dev Petty, illustrated by Mike Boldt
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2015 and updated in 2020.
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