Laughter In the Library: Reading and Sharing Books That Make Kids Smile by Larnette Snow
As school librarians we have two principal missions: to teach children to be lifelong learners and to teach them to appreciate books and reading. Because these are such serious tasks, I like to incorporate humor into my lesson plans whenever, and as often as possible. That’s why I love books that do double duty by giving students a laugh while at the same time, teaching them concepts that will help them progress in school.
Don’t you love it when you read a book for the first time and know that your students are going to love the book? I think it’s even better if the book is going to make the children smile or laugh. When I think about books that I knew immediately were going to be hits, one pair that I think of are Lisa Wheeler’s Porcupining: a Prickly Love Story and Hokey Pokey: Another Prickly Love Story. With Porcupining the play on words is so clever. Plus, when I read the book, I sing “his sad, sad song” in my best country twang. When I look out at the kids, most of them are smiling or laughing, but one or two have a look that says they are embarrassed for me and wondering, “Does she realize she can’t sing?”.
Another set of books for double duty is Melanie Watt’s Chester series. They are not only hilarious, but Chester, the first in the series, can help to introduce students to book awards such as the Caldecott and the Newbery. In the first book Chester, a cat, takes over the story about a mouse with an end that makes students laugh out loud.
Need an idea to incorporate classroom, library, or school rules? David Shannon’s No, David, David Goes to School, and David Gets in Trouble are great to introduce, review, or write rules and talk about why there are rules. No, David is actually based on a book that Shannon wrote when he was five-years old – “no” and “David” were the only words he knew how to spell. If you read these books, you probably have a student in mind whose name could be substituted for David. Students love these books and will check them out every year.
Tedd Arnold’s More Parts and Even More Parts are great reads to introduce and review idioms. Both of these are excellent to show the literal interpretation of idioms and then, discussing what they really mean. I generally use these with third graders and use the first in the series, Parts with second graders. Parts does not actually incorporate idioms, but the child is confused about navel fuzz, losing teeth, etc.
Colleen Salley’s Epossumondas books bring laughter and are good reads to use as folktales or noodlehead stories. Epossumondas is a well-meaning noodlehead who takes what Mama says literally and gets into and out of troublesome situations. Even though I am from the South, I try to use an even more Southern drawl when I read Epossumondas’ dialogue.
Finally, Mo Willems Pigeon books are so much fun. The students love these books and I use them to incorporate an art lesson in the library by having them draw the pigeon. The students are delighted with their masterpieces and always want to draw more than one.
Through all that I do to share books and reading with students – book talks, book fairs, Skypes with authors, author visits, book give-a-ways, the actual reading to the students is the most important. To see their reactions, to later hear them talk about the books, authors, or characters and to see them check out the books are the small but very important triumphs. These are just a few of my favorite books to read aloud that give me these successes. Do you have any favorites that do double duty that you would like to share with us?
Larnette Snow has been a librarian in PreK-7 grade schools for twenty years. Her husband affectionately calls her a nerd. She loves sharing her passion for picture books with adults and children of all ages. You can find her on Twitter as @LarnetteS.