The Many Benefits of Sharing Jokes
as a Family

by Lindsay Barrett

Photo credit: Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury, Caiaimage Collection/Getty Images

A well-chosen joke can have a big impact when speaking to a crowd or attempting to redirect a tense meeting. Jokes aren’t just for the public stage, though. Our family started regularly enjoying jokes when my son began sharing the “Joke of the Day” read on the morning announcements at his school with us at dinner. A few chuckles help distract from the inevitable whining about the menu, and it’s been a good chance to deconstruct jokes he didn’t quite understand. (“What was the porcupine’s favorite food? A hamburger.” took some explaining, given our tendency towards vegetarianism.) The benefits of sharing jokes definitely go beyond mealtime conversation matter, though. Here are some compelling reasons to make joking around a regular family habit:

Jokes are good for your family’s health. Experts report that a sense of humor is correlated with better coping skills in times of stress and higher self-esteem. Humor can even help combat mood disorders. Like many skills, children develop their understanding of humor through social interaction, so telling jokes as a family can give their funny bones a workout. Not surprisingly, laughter releases feel-good brain chemicals. Humor encourages family connection and can help diffuse kids’ anxiety or grouchiness.

Jokes level the social playing field. Knowing a good joke can help a kid connect with peers at the cafeteria table or start a conversation on the school bus. Enjoying jokes and practicing the art of humorous delivery in the safety of their home can give kids tools for social situations, especially if this is an area of difficulty.

Jokes hone verbal skills. Jokes are the perfect packaging for quick lessons about sounds in words, word meanings, and even spelling. Yes, they’re corny, but consider the learning potential in these samples from

“What do you call a cow that eats your grass? A lawn moo-er.”

“When is a door not a door? When it’s ajar.”

“What kind of fly has a frog in his throat? A hoarse fly.”

Jokes encourage reading and learning. Many parents and teachers report that joke books help motivate their reluctant or struggling readers to read more. Since jokes, by design, are for sharing, reading them aloud is particularly good practice for kids who struggle with reading fluently. Studies show humor can make information more memorable, too. If your child needs help remembering a concept, a joke might do it. For instance, channel your inner geeky science teacher with another gem like: Two atoms are playing together when one tells the other, ‘I lost an electron.’ The second atom asks, ‘Are you sure?’ The first atom replies ‘I’m positive!’”

Need some more good jokes to reap all these benefits? Check out these joke books for kids:

  • Scholastic Reader Level 1: Get the Giggles

    by Scholastic, illustrated by Bronwen Davies

    Perfect for new readers, this title has uncluttered spreads, a straightforward font, and one simple-but-silly joke on each pair of pages. Some of the jokes are ones you’ve likely heard before, but this makes them even more appropriate for early reading practice.

    Family Favorites:
    “What kind of button won’t undo? A belly button.”
    “What did one snowman say to the other snowman? 'Do you smell carrots?'”

    (Ages 4 -7)

  • Lots of Knock-Knock Jokes for Kids

    by Whee Winn

    When a child discovers knock-knock jokes, prepare to be regaled with them constantly. This book will give your child more than enough examples to understand the hallmark word-play of this genre and plenty of options to share with all those willing to say, “Who’s there?”

    Family Favorite:
    “Knock, knock.
    Who’s there?
    Impatient pirate.
    Impatient p-

    (Ages 6 - 10)

  • Roald Dahl Whoppsy-Wiffling Joke Book

    by Roald Dahl

    Available from:

    Themed pages of quips are sprinkled with illustrations and quotes from Roald Dahl’s classic stories. From “The Pelly’s Fishy Funnies” to “the BFG’s Giant Jokes” to “Wonka Wisecracks,” these jokes will make your family chuckle and also have you lining up the author’s conventional titles to read or re-read.

    Family Favorites:
    “What do you call a peanut in a space-suit? An astro-nut!”
    “What has four legs and goes ‘oom, oom’? A cow walking backward!”

    (Ages 8 - 12)

    Also available from:

Which jokes get the kids in your life giggling? Share your favorites in the comments section below!