Growing Reader

5 Favorite Picture Books with a Dose of Dark Humor

by Charnaie Gordon

Have you ever found yourself laughing out loud while reading a children’s book with dark humor? You know the kind of humor that makes you belly-laugh with tears in your eyes, but then you feel bad afterwards for laughing in the first place. Some picture-book authors have absolutely mastered the subtle humor technique. They’re skilled at writing stories and creating characters who deal with everyday moral quandaries that kids can easily relate to, and then you have the illustrators who let their art and dark color palettes do most of the talking.

As my children have gotten older, I’ve found they really enjoy humorous books during storytime, especially those that have endings with a surprise twist. It’s always fun to see how long it takes them to figure out exactly what happened in the end. Sometimes they’ll laugh uproariously when the final joke is revealed — other times the joke goes over their heads, and I’m the only one laughing.

Below I’ve rounded up a few books that use visual humor and brilliant storylines to tell dark humor tales. Spy any of your favorites here?