Baby & Toddler

Pre-K

Growing Reader

14 Laugh-Out-Loud Picture Books for Little Kids

by Iva-Marie Palmer

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Photo credit: Kiyoko Fukuda/Getty Images

The thing about our little ones is this: It feels like they can (and do) spend a lot of time crying, whining, wailing, and throwing tantrums. But another, more wonderful, thing about our little ones is: Wow, can they laugh. They are excellent at it, and it’s fairly easy to get a chuckle out of them. (Though I admit that coming up with new voices for inanimate objects can get put a lot of pressure on a person.)

Maybe the quickest way to prompt a baby’s belly laugh, a toddler’s infectious giggles, or a kindergartner’s shrieks of delight is by reading aloud a silly picture book. Even the least performative of parents can get a laugh from these picks, but throw in some silly voices and, well, you may just feel like a bonafide professional comedian.

  • Look!

    by Jeff Mack

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    Brevity is the soul of wit. A few funny drawings never hurt, either. With only two words — “look” and “out” — and a very silly and attention-craving gorilla, Mack creates funny and clever scenarios on page after page.
    (Ages 0 – 3)

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  • Peanut Butter’s Tasty Opposites

    by Terry Border

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    While you’re not supposed to judge books by their covers, the fact that this one features a photo-real illustration of two halves of a PB&J sandwich on a seesaw is almost instantly chuckle-worthy. And the laughs continue with Border’s punny, funny wordplay.
    (Ages 0 – 3)

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  • A Little Stuck

    by Oliver Jeffers

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    Jeffers must truly be one of the most versatile kids’ writer-illustrators out there, because he can pen things very sweet (Lost and Found), delightfully strange (Once Upon an Alphabet), and extraordinarily silly. This board book edition of the picture book Stuck — a hilariously absurd quest by a boy to get his kite out of a tree — is called A Little Stuck because it’s the same tale but portable. Laughs on the go!
    (Ages 0 – 3)

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  • Dinosaur vs. Bedtime!

    by Bob Shea

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    Shea’s toothy (and pretty cute) dinosaur roars early, often, and on repeat, and kids will instantly identify with him as he faces off with piles of leaves, bowls of spaghetti, his toothbrush, and the bath. Following a predictable and comic pattern earns this read a steady laugh on every page … until the dinosaur faces his biggest obstacle: bedtime. Don’t be surprised if your little one holds their breath in suspense before letting out a big giggle.
    (Ages 3 – 5)

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  • The Day the Crayons Quit

    by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

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    The idea of mutinous crayons is already funny. But in this awesome book, each crayon has had it UP TO HERE for different reasons. Blue feels overworked, beige feels ignored, orange and yellow are having a feud over who should really color the sun, and you don’t wanna know the issues brown is having. Give each crayon its own voice for maximum laugh-ability. And don’t forget to check out the sequel, The Day the Crayons Came Home.
    (Ages 3 – 7)

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  • Penguin Problems

    by Jory John, illustrated by Lane Smith

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    He’s cold, he’s bored, and he feels like he’s just like everyone else: This penguin is all of us. The hilariously cranky, albeit well-dressed little guy is maybe having an existential crisis (which most adult readers can probably relate to), but you don’t need to explain that to the kids. Young readers will just be gleeful if you can heighten the penguin’s exasperation as the story progresses. Reader’s note: Adorable animals become hilarious when they’re frustrated.
    (Ages 3 – 7)

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  • I Will Chomp You!

    by Jory John, illustrated by Bob Shea

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    Kids know id. And any character with a very simple wish and a desire to have something all to itself equals instant comedy, particularly if that character is a monster getting increasingly crazed at protecting his or her PRIZED POSSESSION! Kids will crack up at the chomper-in-question’s agitated state as they get closer to eyeballing the monster’s top-secret treasure. (And they’ll no doubt identify with the monster, who’s been hiding a very elaborate cake the whole time. YUM.)
    (Ages 3 – 7)

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  • The Hueys in The New Sweater

    by Oliver Jeffers

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    The three weeks we borrowed this particular book from our local library were sublime and full of preschooler laughter. The tears came when we had to return it. Jeffers’s Hueys are a strange populace — even if they are all a bit, well, the same. But the homogeneity is part of the joke and an end-of-book non-sequitur (no spoilers here!) is a goldmine for kid giggles.
    (Ages 3 – 7)

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  • If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur

    by Linda Bailey, illustrated by Colin Jack

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    Coming up with strange uses for familiar objects is an instantly funny trope, and it’s even funnier when that object is a dinosaur. This picture book shows just how versatile a dinosaur can be — as a can opener, nutcracker, kite, umbrella, and so much more! Kids will have a blast ad-libbing long after the book is over.
    (Ages 3 – 7)

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  • Those Darn Squirrels!

    by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

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    Squirrels versus a cranky old man named Mr. Fookwire. Really, if the name alone doesn’t make you smirk, the story inside certainly will. The “darn squirrels” are also incredibly smart, and benignly terrorize Mr. Fookwire in a story that you will willingly reread time and again with your little ones.
    (Ages 4 – 7)

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  • Please, Open This Book!

    by Adam Lehrhaupt, illustrated by Matthew Forsythe

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    Lehrhaupt gained fans with his first book: Warning: Do Not Open This Book!, which upped the ante on chaos with each turned page. Now, he’s flipped the directive and the goal is not to close the book, lest you trap the monkeys and lemurs that populate its pages. The animals are very demanding and the suspense also yields shrieks of laughter.
    (Ages 4 – 8)

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  • King Baby

    by Kate Beaton

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    A baby who’s the center of the universe: It’s not wish fulfillment, it’s reality. While kids crack up at this egg-shaped baby who gets whatever he demands, parents will nod (and laugh) in agreement.
    (Ages 4 – 8)

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  • The Book with No Pictures

    by B.J. Novak

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    Leave it to a writer and producer for “The Office” to come up with a picture book that can make any grown-up funny. The trick to this book is making the grown-up in question read some colossally silly stuff … but anything for a laugh, right?
    (Ages 5 – 8)

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  • Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast

    by Josh Frank, illustrated by Brendan Kearney

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    Weird things get laughs. It’s just a fact. So, imbue breakfast foods with personalities (and noble, crown-wearing ones at that) and things get weird, and funny, fast. The rhyming food fight that ensues is colorful, rambunctious, and hilarious.
    (Ages 5+)

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Which books make your young reader crack up? Share your favorite laugh-worthy reads in the comments below!