Growing Reader

10 Legitimately Funny Books to Read Aloud with Your Kids

by Tom Burns

Photo credit: Blend Images - REB Images, Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

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 ten great kids’ books that really know how to bring the funny.

  • The Book with No Pictures

    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.

  • We Found a Hat

    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.

  • President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath

    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.)

  • 17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore

    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.”

  • Interrupting Chicken

    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 Ryan T. Higgins

    Want to give a group of kids the giggles? Tell them to be quiet and then just wait. A similar dynamic arises in this way-too-funny picture book all about a mouse named Rupert who wants to star in a charming wordless picture book, but … yeah, that’s not going to happen. Tailor-made for the frustrated read-aloud voice you perfected on Mo Willems’ Pigeon books. Your kids will ask you to read this one again and again.

  • XO, OX: A Love Story

    by Adam Rex; illustrated by Scott Campbell

    Even the title of this one is enough to get you chuckling (always a good sign). But Rex and Campbell seal the deal with a seriously side-splitting setup that involves poor Ox who keeps writing heartfelt love letters to the increasingly exasperated (and conceited) Gazelle. The dueling letters format of the book makes this a perfect book for out-loud performance reading. (You’ll have a blast perfecting with your snooty Gazelle voice.)

  • Have I Got a Book for You!

    by Mélanie Watt

    The creator of Scaredy Squirrel introduces you to Al Foxword, a swarthy salesman who will do anything, ANYTHING to get you to buy his book. As Al trots out every cheesy sales trick there is, you can feel yourself falling into your best used car salesman impression, making for an extremely fun bedtime reading performance. (The book also ends with one of the most surprising picture book gimmicks I’ve ever seen. Just remember — you broke it, you bought it.)

  • The Happy Hocky Family Moves to the Country!

    by Lane Smith

    This clever riff on the classic Dick and Jane primers is like a comedy master class for kids. Lane Smith sets up a familiar children’s book premise — a nuclear family moves to the country — and gleefully smashes it by making his characters surprisingly sarcastic and self-aware. When I first read this book with my daughter, she looked up at me halfway through, gave me a sly smile, and said, “I see what they’re doing here.”

  • I’m Bored

    by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

    Comedian Michael Ian Black, best known from "The State" and "Wet Hot American Summer," mines a whole lot of humor out of forcing a child to confront the age-old kid mantra, “I’m bored.” A bored little girl is delighted to meet a talking potato until the equally-underwhelmed spud declares, “Kids are boring.” So the little girl decides to change his mind. A hilarious testament to the power of reverse psychology.