Think about which books your child reaches for most. If you’re like many parents, the first thing that comes to mind is “funny kids’ books”!
Scholastic research shows that humor in books is the top characteristic kids look for when making their reading selections. According to the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report, more than 70 percent of children ages 6 to 17 say they look for books that make them laugh. Parents feel similarly: More than 50 percent of parents say they want their kids’ books to be funny above all else. When humor is involved, the whole family enjoys reading more.
Funny kids’ books provide a positive and uplifting interaction that encourages regular reading habits.
“Most people enjoy a good laugh — kids included,” says Jessica Wollman, senior vice president and general manager of curriculum at Scholastic Education. “Humorous books pull kids in and make reading fun.”
When children enjoy what they read, they’ll want to read more — but funny books are more than just a means of entertainment. They can be a doorway to better reading comprehension, improved social-emotional skills, and overall well-being. Here are the three major benefits of humor in books for your child.
Humor “Makes Teaching Stick”
Humor plays a big role in a child’s stages of development. How a child uses humor is a reflection of their developing cognitive and linguistic abilities. Introducing children to humor through books is one way to build lasting skills.
“Humor can be an effective way to improve retention, or ‘make teaching stick,’ in kids from kindergarten through college,” says Wollman. “After all, humor triggers our sense of wonder, which is the root of all learning.”
Experts agree: Funny kids’ books teach lessons that prime readers for the wider world.
“Funny books can absolutely provide a learning experience,” says Judy Newman, executive vice president of Scholastic and president of Scholastic Book Clubs. “Series like Dog Man by Dav Pilkey provide lessons to enhance social-emotional skills and good decision-making, while they entertain kids with puns, jokes and amusing illustrations.”
Humor Is Empowering
Humor also gives kids the confidence to try new things. By reading about characters who slip up or fail in an amusing way, or who take many attempts to succeed, children feel more comfortable embracing their fears and hesitations.
“Humorous books can be empowering for young readers,” says Newman. “Rather than being overtly told that they need to behave in a certain way, these stories show that it’s okay to make mistakes! Kids can relate to characters like Junie B. Jones and Greg Heffley (the Wimpy Kid), who mess things up in hilarious ways.”
Through funny books, children also get a window into what it’s like to be an adult.
“Adult characters are often depicted as misguided or confused in these books,” Newman says. “Popular series such as My Weird School and The Bad Guys illustrate that ‘grown-ups’ mix things up, too. This can be reassuring for kids, and turns the table so that they are assessing decisions made by people who are generally in a position of authority.”
Humor Is Therapeutic
A good joke is better when it’s shared. In this way, reading becomes a group activity when children can share the laughs — and form bonds.
“Humor is also inherently social, and it’s highly contagious,” says Wollman. “Whenever young readers connect over funny books, like Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants and Tedd Arnold’s Fly Guy, they’re also engaged in authentic community building.”
But perhaps the most enduring legacy of funny kids’ books is their ability to help children navigate difficult times and difficult situations. Laughter may enhance a child’s literacy in many ways, but it’s the old expression “laughter is medicine” that hints at its true benefits.
“During these tumultuous times, we are seeing that both caregivers and children are looking for books that provide therapeutic benefits,” Newman says. “In particular demand are books that address social-emotional concerns, mindfulness, understanding differences, and kindness. And, of course, laughter increases endorphins released by the brain, which reduces stress and promotes a sense of well-being. That’s something everyone could use more of these days.”
Shop best-selling funny kids’ books below and share a laugh. You can find all books and activities at The Scholastic Store.