To celebrate Humor Month, we asked 15 authors to share their picks for the all-time funniest books for kids. Here are the giggle-inducing reads they’ve chuckled at, loved, and gone back to time and again.
“When I was a kid, The Monster at the End of This Book made me laugh so hard. I remember squealing with delight every time I turned the page (despite Grover desperately begging me not to). The whole thing is a set-up to the punchline with the reader in control. It was kind of like an interactive app — way before the iPad ever came around. Plus, the illustrations are hilarious and the pacing is perfect. The ‘Did you know that you are very strong?’ spread still gets me every time.”
“I absolutely loved All in One Piece, by Jill Murphy, as a child and used to giggle at the little elephants’ antics — particularly the baby who ransacked Mrs. Large’s dressing table and then clumsily applied all her makeup. It’s funny when you’re a kid because you’re watching other kids get up to mischief (and somebody not realizing they’ve got something stuck to their bottom is never not funny). It still makes me laugh now, as a parent, because I sympathize with poor Mrs. Large and her plight to leave the house for a very rare night off.”
Sarah Turner is the author of The Unmumsy Mum: The Hilarious Highs and Emotional Lows of Motherhood (on sale 4/18/17), a humorous and heartfelt memoir of Sarah’s not-so-glamorous, sleep-deprived years as a new parent.
“Okay, so the lesson in I Want My Hat Back is perhaps not the best one to teach your child (‘Someone stole your hat? KILL HIM.’), but the expression on the bear’s face when he realizes that the rabbit stole his hat is perfection. (Also, the book presents an excellent opportunity to employ the ‘Lies Are Okay Sometimes’ parenting rule when you tell your child not to worry — the cute little bunny totally realized he had done something wrong and totally was not eaten by the bear and totally learned his lesson and never stole again for the rest of his long and happy bunny life.)”
Jordan Reid is a co-author of The Big Fat Activity Book for Pregnant People (on sale 4/25/17), a hysterical activity book for moms-to-be filled with quizzes, fill-in-the-blanks, journaling pages, and more.
“Mo Willems hits the nail on the head when it comes to infusing both his illustrations and his storytelling with humor in Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. The absurdity alone makes reading this book a blast, especially when I add my goofy voices to the pigeon’s character. On the same note, Walter the Farting Dog, written by William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray and illustrated by Audrey Colman, became a nightly bedtime tradition in my family. Stepping outside the safe zone and addressing bodily functions through the life of a dog was downright brilliant. I mean c’mon, what kid doesn’t like to listen to a story about farts?”
Chris Pegula is the author of Diaper Dude: The Ultimate Dad’s Guide to Surviving the First Two Years (on sale 5/9/17), a fun and informative parenting resource for dads, by dads.
“The funniest children’s book that has ever been written is Big Bird’s Red Book as read to me by my late Grandma Gen when I was a toddler. The Sesame Street character teaches you all about the color red by walking through town, but that’s all a lead-up to literature’s greatest punchline: Big Bird sits on a bunch of tomatoes in front of everyone. My grandma would re-read this page, shouting the caption ‘SQUASH!’ over and over until I would almost pass out with joy. I still can’t eat tomatoes without thinking of that delightful scene.”
Andy Boyle is the author of the upcoming Adulthood for Beginners: All the Life Secrets Nobody Bothered to Tell You (on sale 5/2/17), a knee-slapping survival guide for new adults who don’t have it all figured out just yet.
“I love Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Lewis Carroll’s classic is eternally hilarious, no matter what age you are. The story is magical, the characters (The Mad Hatter, The Cheshire Cat, the Queen of Hearts) are unforgettable, and the language is endlessly alive, especially for children. Take, for instance, the ‘Jabberwocky’ poem:
‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe
Who couldn’t love that?
And, of course, Alice’s entire adventure is because she got bored and fell asleep — a lesson both about the power of idleness and wonder and the importance of dreams as pathways to another reality.”
Arianna Huffington’s new book, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time, takes an in-depth look at sleep, exploring topics such as how a good night’s rest affects our day-to-day lives and why society places a negative stigma on sleeping.
“I love read-aloud books that generously let YOU be hilarious. Robert the Rose Horse, a somewhat unlikely pick, tops my childhood list mostly because it showcased my mother’s ability to belt out the most outrageous ‘KERCHOO!’ whenever poor, allergic Robert encountered roses. I’d join in with as mighty a sneeze as 3-year-old-me could muster, then we’d giggle until our bellies hurt. Our laughter, and the feel-good ending, made this a favorite.”
Kate Marshall is a co-author of The Book of You: For My Child, with Love (A Keepsake Journal) (on sale 5/2/17), an interactive journal offering parents a personalized way to say “I love you” to their children.
“There’s nothing better than busting into giggles alongside your kid. One of my old favorites is Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf by Catherine Storr. The poor wolf is hilarious. There are several in the series, and they’re all great. The Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books are also funnier than you remember, with character names like Calliope Ragbag, Cormorant Broomrack, and Pergola Wingsproggle. More recently, my 9-year-old and I really enjoyed the Mabel Jones series by Will Mabbitt, and the Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters by Kara LaReau.”
Abbi Waxman is the author of The Garden of Small Beginnings (on sale 5/2/17), a novel of love and loss told from the perspective of a widowed mother of two who finds comfort in an unusual place: a peculiar gardening group.
“My dearest late friend, Heidi, introduced me to the magic of Robert Munsch when my children were very small, and The Paper Bag Princess remains my favorite. It is utterly charming and has the kind of clever, sly humor that is equally appealing to the parents having to read the same story night after night. I particularly love that Princess Elizabeth eschews her ghastly prince, dancing off into the sunset happily single and filled with self-possession.”
Jane Green is the author of The Sunshine Sisters (on sale 6/6/17), a novel about three sisters whose mother’s tragic illness forces them to question what they hold dear.
“People don’t always associate the words ‘Judy Blume’ with the words ‘gut-wrenching hilarity’ but as far as I’m concerned she was the humorist par excellence of my childhood. I didn’t know the New York City she conjured up and I was baffled by some of the aspects of it (what’s an ‘apartment’?), but I never stopped sympathizing with and laughing at (the two are not incompatible) poor Peter and his irrepressible little brother Fudge in Blume’s Fudge series. Judy Blume is the original American funny lady for kids.”
Betsy Bird is the editor of Funny Girl: Funniest. Stories. Ever. (on sale 5/9/17), a middle grade anthology of humorous short stories, personal essays, comics, poems, and more, by 25 of the funniest women writing for kids today.
“Ada Twist, Scientist might not be the funniest book on the planet, but it does involve discovering the source of a very stinky smell through hypothesizing and robust scientific experimentation. The drawings are beautiful, full of charm and tasteful mid-century modern furniture. Also, any book whose main character is a brilliant female scientist will always be at the top of my list.”
Erin Williams is a co-author of The Big Fat Activity Book for Pregnant People (on sale 4/25/17), a hysterical activity book for moms-to-be filled with quizzes, fill-in-the-blanks, journaling pages, and more.
Stephen W. Martin
“I was a HUGE Robert Munsch fan when I was growing up! Everything he wrote is pretty funny, but my favorite was I Have to Go! I was really into bathroom humor as a 6-year-old and it cracked me up every time my parents read it to me. Now for something current, There’s a Lion in My Cornflakes by Michelle Robinson is laugh-out-loud, milk-coming-out-of-my-nose hilarious. And for writers it’s a master class on escalating events!”
Stephen W. Martin is the author of Charlotte and the Rock, a sly, heartwarming story about a girl who dreams of having a pet but gets a rock instead.
“The Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel were some of my children’s favorites. Our favorite story is about one of the friends wanting to surprise the other by getting them both ice cream cones. But on his way to deliver the treat he trips and the cones get stuck on his face so when he finds his friend, his friend runs away, scared because he thinks he’s seen a monster. The illustrations are priceless! My kids would cry laughing every time and, of course, I’d do the same. It never got old.”
Karen White is the author of The Night the Lights Went Out, a suspenseful thriller about a young single mother who discovers that the nature of friendship is never what it seems in a small Georgia town.
“If you love monsters like I do, William Steig’s Shrek! is a revelation. Shrek is JOYFUL monster. When Shrek’s parents kick him out of their swamp, smiling, Shrek is smiling too! Hilarious. Then Shrek sets off and trees bend away from him, animals flee, people faint. Shrek is delighted — I’m cracking up. It feels like Shrek is saying, ‘We monsters are horrible, yes. BUT AREN’T I THE MOST HILARIOUS THING YOU’VE EVER SEEN?’ And he is. Shrek finds the ugliest princess on the planet. They marry and live ‘horribly ever after.’ Monster loves himself, monster is loved.”
Gabe Hudson is the author of Gork, the Teenage Dragon (on sale 7/11/17), a fantastical coming-of-age story centered around an awkward, big-hearted dragon who finds himself in sticky situations as he journeys to planet Earth.
“There’s something especially fun if a book is both funny and a little spooky. When my children were little we loved to read Stan and Jan Berenstain’s The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree. We’d all sit together and I would do all the different voices as I read. I now read it to my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren, much to their delight. It’s not too spooky, but it’s certainly funny! I’ve owned this book so many times and I’ve gifted it even more! It’s special, spooky, and a little kooky!”
Christine Feehan is the author of Bound Together and the upcoming Shadow Reaper (on sale 5/30/17), a paranormal romance following a couple who seek safety in each other’s love and find danger instead.
The Funny Books Mentioned in This Article