March 07


Funny Realistic Fiction Novels for Middle Grades by Arianne Costner

We need more laughter in this world.

As an author of funny books, I may be biased, but I’ve always extra-appreciated a book that can make me giggle. These stories are worthy of study and acclaim. It’s hard to create humor, and laughter is not only enjoyable, but it’s good for your health! (hyperlink:

Arianne’s health advice: read more funny books 😉

When I was a seventh grade Language Arts teacher, I found that my reluctant readers really gravitated towards books with humor. Funny books can improve moods, contain important themes, and lead to a lifetime love of reading.

Here are some laugh-out-loud realistic fiction titles sure to be a hit with middle grade readers.

  1. How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy by Crystal Allen (upper middle grade):

There are few characters I have fallen in love with more than thirteen-year-old Lamar. He’s cocky, over-the-top, and extremely charming. When Lamar gets roped into a hustling scene at the bowling alley, hilarity ensues.


  1. Slacker by Gordon Korman

The premise of this one kills me. Cameron makes a point to be as uninvolved as possible in the academic arena. Instead of joining a club like his mom would like, he creates a fake service club so he can slack off instead. But when the club starts gaining traction, Cameron is stuck being the president—his worst nightmare!


  1. Ungifted by Gordon Korman

Yep, that’s two Gordon Korman recommendations in a row, because he reigns supreme in this sphere! Donovan is a troublemaker who, thanks to a mix-up by one of the administrators, ends up being sent to a school for gifted and talented students. Korman has a penchant for hilarious scenarios and page-turning action. Kids will love following Donovan on his journey as he learns that intelligence comes in all forms.


  1. Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim

Yumi may seem shy on the outside, but secretly, she is an aspiring comedian with a notebook full of material. After a case of mistaken identity, she gets to attend a comedy camp taught by one of her favorite Youtube stars. Kim’s voice is spot-on middle grade, and stocked with hilarious one-liners that will leave you giggling.


  1. Bernice Buttman: Model Citizen by Nikki Lenz

Bernice is scary. Bernice is mean. Bernice really just wants a friend. In this crack-up novel pitched as Honey boo-boo meets Sister Act (I mean, come on!), Bernice attempts to turn over a new leaf when she goes to live with a group of nuns. But it’s hard to stay “nice” when there are so many people around her deserving of a good prank. This book is well-written, voicey, and there’s a scene involving a pinata and some cheeseballs that had my CRYING with laughter.


  1. The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever by Jeff Strand

Okay. This is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE book in the world and I do not believe it has gotten enough attention. I was cracking up on nearly every page. Three nerdy filmmaking buddies set out to create, as the title suggests, the Greatest Zombie Movie Ever! They’ve got a small loan from Justin’s grandma, plenty of gory props, and endless passion. This book really hits that sweet spot between middle grade and YA, making it a great pick for 6-8 graders.


  1. I Funny: a Middle School Story by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

Patterson and Grabenstein are the dream team when it comes to funny fiction, and their reputation is well-deserved. For starters, their covers could entice any reluctant reader. In this novel, Jamie enters a contest called The Planet’s Funniest Kid Comic. Throughout the book, he cracks jokes, even while dealing with his mean cousin, who suggests the judges are giving Jamie special treatment because of his wheelchair. The ending’s revelation of Jamie’s backstory add a layer of depth to the novel. Plentiful illustrations add to the humor.


  1. Jake the Fake by Craig Robinson(Author), Adam Mansbach  (Author), and Keith Knight (Illustrator)

In the first book of this highly illustrated series, Jake fakes his way into a prestigious music academy and has to deal with the consequences! The plot leads hilarious misunderstandings as Jake pretends he’s someone he’s not. This is a fast-paced series reminiscent of the Wimpy Kid books.


  1. Pickle: The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School by Kim Baker

The title tells it all! A group of kids secretly form a prank group at their school, under the guise of a pickle-making club. Full of (mostly) harmless pranks and good clean fun, this book is an instant hook to reluctant readers. If you want to find out how to fill up a homeroom like a ball pit, snatch this one up quick!


  1. Payback on Poplar Lane by Margaret Mincks

Don’t take my word for it—take the words of comedy king, Chris Grabenstein, who said, “This is the funniest book I’ve read in years.” It was this blurb that initially made me pick up the book, and it did not disappoint! Peter is an obnoxiously pretentious businessman who mistreats his neighbor/employee Rachel. Even though Rachel is normally soft-spoken, she decides to stand up to Peter and create a competing business. Let the rivalry begin! The plot unravels into revenge plots, espionage, and questionable business tactics. In the end, the two rivals start to understand each other.


Arianne Costner lives in the middle of the desert with her husband and three children. She is a former English teacher who believes that writers should crack up at their own jokes. Her debut novel MY LIFE AS A POTATO (Random House Children’s Books 3.24.20) tells the story of a boy who moves to Idaho and is forced to become the dorkiest mascot ever. Her number one goal is to make kids laugh.