Pre-K

Growing Reader

15 Read-Alouds That Will Make You Look Hilarious to Your Kids

by Iva-Marie Palmer

Photo credit: Klaus Vedfelt, DigitalVision/Getty Images

April is National Humor Month and while I hope you’re finding reasons to laugh year-round, it’s a good time to fill with as many laughs as possible. If you read aloud to your children, you’re halfway to getting a guffaw out of them! Add some wacky voices and dramatic pauses as you read these spectacularly giggle-worthy stories, and your little ones will think you’re the funniest grown-up around.

Here are 15 picture books to help you bring the funny to storytime in April and beyond.

  • Wordy Birdy

    by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Dave Mottram

    Inattentive and constantly yapping, Wordy Birdy is bound for peril when she sets off on a walk in the woods. Read this one at a fast clip to demonstrate Wordy’s never-ending monologue and you’re guaranteed some guffaws. Add in the attempts by her exasperated but faithful buddies Squirrel, Raccoon, and Rabbit to help her out of a jam and the laughs double (but a lesson is likewise imparted).

  • Nanette’s Baguette

    by Mo Willems

    This is far and away my favorite funny book that we’ve picked up in the past year. Nanette, sent for the first time to pick up a baguette at the bakery, can’t seem to get the warm, crispy loaf home intact. Anyone who’s ever suffered a carb craving will identify — and Nanette’s compulsive chomping is hilarious to boot. If you can master a proper “nom nom” noise, you’ll have to pause for the giggles to subside.

  • Don’t Blink!

    by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by David Roberts

    The late and prolific Rosenthal left behind a treasure trove of children’s books, some with important lessons and others that are just plain fun. In this one, kids who can avoid getting to the end of this book can avoid bedtime: The challenge is giggle-worthy in itself. But the deal is, each time a kid blinks, a page must be turned. Up the laughs by exclaiming, “Don’t blink!” with a premium on urgency.

  • The Book with No Pictures

    by B.J. Novak

    When I asked my 7-year-old about the most hilarious books I’ve ever read him, within seconds he answered: The Book with No Pictures. The reason, of course, is that Novak builds in pages that — when read aloud — force the grown-up reading the book to be extra-silly. Fortunately, the book provides you with the exact cues you need to hear giggles, not groans.

  • Stuck

    by Oliver Jeffers

    Ridiculously escalating actions are what make this picture book one of Jeffers’s funniest. When Floyd’s kite gets stuck in a tree, he tries to get it out with successively bigger and odder objects: each of which gets stuck itself. To get the best laughs, don’t ignore the clever little asides within some of the illustrations.

  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

    by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Ray Cruz

    Schadenfreude is a big concept — and long word — for little kids to grasp, but there’s quite a bit of relatable delight in following Alexander’s miserable day. Written in 1972, Alexander’s complaints still hold up: discovering gum in the hair, getting a cavity, not being allowed to goof around at his dad’s office. To get the laugh, read this book in a petulant Why me? tone. (Try mimicking your kids at their whiniest — they might not know what inspired you, but you’ll surely give them the giggles). Later, though, you can talk about how sometimes it helps to reflect and find the funny in our own bad days.

  • Where the Sidewalk Ends

    by Shel Silverstein

    Often outlandish and weird, and always imaginative, Shel Silverstein’s poems often appeal to the absurdist sensibilities of every child. Whether crocodiles are going to the dentist or Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout won’t take the garbage out, the poems in this collection are ideal for striking a silly note.

  • Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet

    by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated Bob Shea

    A woe-is-me goldfish, Gilbert, knows he should be happy with all that he has: a castle, a treasure chest, and food that falls from above! But he wants a pet. Read this one with increasing exasperation at the search for a pet that’s right for Gilbert and let Shea’s vibrant illustrations do the rest to bring the funny.

  • Pig the Pug

    by Aaron Blabey

    If you can look into the face of Blabey’s Pig the Pug and not laugh, you are made of some extreme anti-comic mettle. Before you even read a word, kids (and you) will likely be giggling at Pig’s bulging eyes and smushy face. Then, the rhyming tale of Pig’s greedy, rude exploits kicks in. But not to worry, there’s a lesson after the laughs.

  • My Pillow Keeps Moving

    by Laura Gehl, illustrated by Christopher Weyant

    The joke’s on you in this one — or, really, grown-ups in general. In other words, the kid laughs are guaranteed. Though this book has few words, charming illustrations by New Yorker cartoonist Weyant speak for themselves as a clever pup without a home finds its way into the house of an unsuspecting grown-up. Then a cat follows, and the two animals must use all their tricks and disguises to keep the human from noticing that they’ve moved in. To maximize the laughs, add a few sly dog noises to your reading.

  • Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book)

    by Julie Falatko, illustrated by Tim J. Miller

    While we try to encourage following the rules, breaking them can very often lead to fun results in storytelling. In this book, Snappsy is just going about his day when a narrator decides his life could be a little more … eventful. As the narrator makes up new truths about what Snappsy’s doing, the tension escalates — and so do the laughs.

  • There’s a Monster in Your Book

    by Tom Fletcher

    Granted, most days at bedtime, we want to convince our kids there’s NOT a monster in their room. But in this interactive book, kids have to shake, wiggle, and tickle to get the monster to emerge. Children are sure to crack up, but the added bonus is kiddos will be extra-tired by the last page.

  • Battle Bunny

    by John Scieszka and Mac Barnett, illustrated by Matt Myers

    Hilarious authors Scieszka and Barnett teaming up means double the laughs, especially with all this book has in store. When Alex’s grandma gives him a super sappy book she found at a garage sale, he’s not interested — until he realizes that its protagonist, Birthday Bunny, could be rewritten as “Battle Bunny”! As Alex adds layers (and doodles) to the storybook, young readers’ laughs will mingle with cries of “I can’t believe he did that!”

  • The Alphabet from A to Y with Bonus Letter Z

    by Steve Martin, illustrated by Roz Chast

    If you want comedy done right … get a comedian to write a kid’s book? Well, yeah. Martin, known for his kooky routines, tackles the alphabet with wacky couplets for each letter. Odd, alliterative, and sometimes even a little gross (basically, perfect for kids), each one is illustrated by renowned cartoonist Chast.

  • Rhyme Crime

    by Jon Burgerman

    This rhyming romp has a sweet conceit: A robber keeps stealing a word or two and replacing the missing bits with something that rhymes. The switcheroos make for a rollicking adventure until the robber is stumped when he steals the word “orange.” Kids will have to take a deep breath and quell their giggles as they solve the mystery of the disappearing objects. Read this like you’re narrating a suspense movie and you’re guaranteed to snag all the laughs.

Which picture book read-alouds never fail to get your kids laughing? Let us know in the comments below!

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