For many kids, reading is stressful, frustrating, and boring. They want to quit before they try. Parents and teachers feel discouraged in their efforts to stir up a love of reading in their students. There’s no greater thrill for us than hearing how a Laugh-Out-Loud joke book gets a kid excited about reading for the first time.
What is it about a joke book that makes such an impact?
Kids thrive and learn best in relationship. A joke book creates a shared experience. The interactive format fosters conversation and side-by-side silliness. As your child reads a joke book out loud, fun and memorable moments are created with the ones they love best.
Struggling readers need a quick reward. A joke book offers a funny punchline after just a couple lines of text. A child has a sense of achievement before they’ve even finished an entire page or chapter. The effort of reading is cut down to size and the payoff is fun!
Joke books put your child on stage—they can entertain and invite their audience (you!) to respond to their reading. Getting a laugh makes them feel heard. Important. Successful. Motivated to keep on reading to the very last page.
If your young reader is saying “I can’t”, put a joke book in their hands. Let some laughter open the door to reading for your child.
With its quick turnaround time, wide variety of joke styles, and kid-friendly language, “LOL” books allow readers of all ages and stages to be funny.
I started using “LOL” joke books as a way of slowing down the hurried pace of a post-recess classroom, and encouraging emergent and struggling readers. What I found, however, is that the thinking required to deliver a joke for humour, to hear a joke to understand it, and to analyze a joke to respond to it, were all skills that needed to (and could) be developed.
In the beginning, I would be the one delivering the joke, to get everyone in the same place, calmed down, and ready to listen. At first, the students would give me throwaway answers, that either used words from the joke (not typical joke philosophy), were ideas unrelated to what I’d said, or were non-sensical. I gradually began to slow down the joke-delivering process, writing both the joke and punchline on the board. This would help many of the learners SEE the connection between the joke and its punchline. Once they saw the types of connections that existed between a joke and its punchline (and a regular reminder that the joke and punchline needed to be somehow connected), the students began to think through their answers more. Eventually, I didn’t need to remind them to connect the two statements, and some would even self-correct or help others do so. Some students who really got into it started proposing their own jokes, using the structure of previous jokes or developing their own. From there, it was easy to use this same “think it through first” philosophy in other subjects, since the process is basically the same, whether you’re writing a story, solving a math problem, or developing a hypothesis.
Children and adults alike, appreciate humour, as well as being funny. Learning the skills behind appropriately delivering a joke and a punchline are made easier with the multitude of knee-slappers, from “What do you get when you cross…?” to the classic “Knock-knock”, the laughs are abundant, explainable, and clean. Delivering a few of these well-developed witticisms will draw in your students. Explaining the use of hyperbole, metaphor, and word play will challenge and grow their adeptness with the English language. Thinking through their responses will help them flex their thinking muscles. And developing their own jokes will reward them richly, as they get to be at the receiving end of laughs, for all the right reasons.
Adrian H (elementary school teacher)