Monday, April 1, 2013

April Fools celebration: Jokes, puns and word play (ages 7-12)

Laughter is one of the best ways in to reading. I love sharing joke books, silly books and books with word play and puns. But you know what? These are great for developing reading skills, too. Many jokes and puns revolve around double meanings. In order to understand jokes, kids have to have sophisticated reasoning and reading skills.

Most of these books are meant for kids ages 7 and older, in 2nd grade and up. They work best for kids who have already learned to read and can get the jokes.

Here some of my favorite books to share on April Fools Day, or any day I want to hear kids laughing.
C D B!
by William Steig
Aladdin / Simon & Schuster, 2003
originally published 1968
ages 7-12
available at your local library and on Amazon
Kids still love this classic wordplay book which uses single letters and numerals to make sentences 4 U 2 decode. Steig's clever humor, combined with drawings that give just enough clues, is X-L-N fun. Can you figure out "I N-V U" or "D N S 5 X"? Just in case, there's an answer key in back - but no P-K-N!
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
Chronicle, 2012
ages 7-12
watch this book trailer
available at your local library and on Amazon
“Wri10” and “illustr8ed” by Rosenthal and Lichtenheld, Wumbers will delight kids as they figure out these words cre8ed with numbers. These word puzzles work much the same way as Steig's CDB! -- you'll find yourself saying them aloud to hear the words and figure out the puzzles. The puzzles are fun, just right for 3rd and 4th graders to figure out.
Go hang a salami! I'm a lasagna hog! 
and other palindromes
by Jon Agee
Farrar Straus Giroux / Macmillan, 1991
ages 8-12
available at your local library and on Amazon
If you like word puzzles, you'll love Agee's collection of palindromes - words and sentences that read the same forwards as backwards. Just try it with the title - go on, I'll wait. Now try these easier palindromes: "Star rats." "Wonton? Not now." With each, Agee pairs a simple, comical drawing that amplifies the humor perfectly. Plenty of white space gives young readers the time and ability to figure out these puzzles. Perfect for making flexible thinkers who have fun with words! I also love, love Jon Agee's out of print Who Ordered the Jumbo Shrimp? and Other Oxymorons. Brilliantly funny, and perfect for kids (find it still at your library here).
Creepy Riddles
by Katy Hall, Lisa Eisenberg, & SD Schindler
Puffin Easy-to-Read
Puffin / Penguin, 1998
ages 5-8
available at your local library and on Amazon
Although this collection of Halloween-themed riddles is over ten years old, almost all of the jokes will still make kids crack up laughing. Veteran joke writers Hall and Eisenberg please kids with jokes such as “What do witches like to eat for dessert? ... Ice scream!” and “Why did Granny Monster knit her grandson three socks? ... Because she heard he’d grown another foot.”

The layout and design helps young readers, with only one joke per page, written in large font. The illustrations help children think about the word play and understand the joke. Schindler’s cross-hatched illustrations might remind parents of Edward Gorey’s classic cross-hatched drawings, but they will also appeal to new readers, with just the right amount of gross details to elicit groans and laughs.

Do you have any favorite joke books to share? I love finding new ways to make kids laugh and hook them with reading at the same time!

The review copies came from our local library and our home collection. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2013 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books


  1. What a great roundup of fun books! I am thrilled to see this. I have a second-grader, and books like these are perfectly calibrated for his reading level and funny bone.

  2. Those looks like so much fun! I looove palindromes.

  3. Hi! I’m putting together a directory of teacher-librarian blogs by state, and I’d love to include yours. You can check it out at The Centered School Library.
    Keep up the great work!