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Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead book cover

Laughter is universal. Just think: we laugh before we can speak. It contributes to our wellbeing and growth, and its powers are wide-ranging—it’s shown to benefit our bodies and minds, as well as being a catalyst for learning and social connection. 

Whatever stage a child’s sense of humor is at—and this evolves rapidly in the first years of life—most parents would agree that if you can make them laugh, they’ll come back for more. And that’s just one reason why funny books for kids make smart choices for reading together. 

So if your child loves funny reads, or if you think funny children’s books might help spark their love of reading, why not give more weight to light-hearted and humorous titles? For starters, try these 10 funny picture books for kids. Then enjoy the benefits, and especially the laughs together.  

Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Toddlers and parents will see themselves in the hilariously familiar scenarios portrayed in this book, while older readers might also delight in recognizing younger siblings or a younger version of themselves. A mom pleads with her young daughter to behave throughout the day—over everything from not drawing on the walls to sharing her toys, leaving the playground and eating her peas—only to be met with a charmingly cheeky smile in response. The repetitive, lilting text works with beautifully amusing illustrations to create a winsome combination.     

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Poo Bum written & illustrated by Stephanie Blake

Guaranteed to get little readers giggling with glee, this book serves up a healthy dose of irreverence and turns the classic moralistic children’s story on its head. It’s also a wry observation on the gulf between what parents often wish their children to be and the reality. 

Little rabbit Simon only says one thing—no prizes for guessing what that is—until one day, after a perilous encounter with a hungry wolf, he seems cured of his potty mouth. Or at least we think he is … Subversive, anarchic and bold, the story brings together simple illustration and text to impish—and refreshing—effect.   

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Never Show a T-Rex a Book by Rashmi Sirdeshpande

A joyful romp of a read that also celebrates the power of books and imagination: win-win! A little girl imagines what would happen if she showed a book to a T-Rex. The dinosaur’s gargantuan appetite for books leads her to learn how to read, then quickly snowballs into ever-crazier consequences. 

The T-Rex graduates from an insatiable bookworm into exploring different careers before eventually becoming her country’s political leader and precipitating a dinosaur takeover of the world. The colorful, lively illustrations work brilliantly with the mounting chaos of the storyline to provoke laughter that will have little readers coming back for more.       

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Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen

The laughs in this book come from how the illustrations are gloriously at odds with the text. Sam and Dave dig a hole, looking for “something spectacular.” They dig deeper and deeper, hilariously unaware of the ever-larger gemstones they bypass, until eventually they end up falling through the earth—thanks to the persistent digging efforts of their doggy companion—and seem to land right back where they started. Something spectacular indeed. A gem of a choice for children able to grasp more sophisticated, subtle humor.     

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Peeny Butter Fudge by Toni Morrison & Slade Morrison, illustrated by Joe Cepeda

An ode to the joys of play between grandparents and grandchildren, this heartwarming story is also very funny. Three kids spend the day with their fun-loving Nana, who ignores the strictly sensible child-care schedule in favor of silliness and spontaneity. The kids have a riot of a time, ending by turning the kitchen upside down in the process of making peanut butter fudge. But what will Mom think when she gets home? The rhyming, rhythmic text will get readers of all ages wanting to join in and support the rule-bending shenanigans depicted.  

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The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak

This riotously laugh-out-loud book hangs on a radically simple conceit. Instead of the usual picture book format they’ll be used to, kids get text in different fonts, colors, sizes and layouts. How utterly boring. Except… the text makes the grown-up reading it do silly voices and say ridiculous things. And what could possibly be funnier than seeing an adult forced to be silly? 

If you can tempt your child to break the rules and try a “picture” book without pictures (and this may take some persuasion), the rewards should be hysterical laughter and a uniquely dramatic and dynamic shared reading experience, with little ones gleefully chiming in at every opportunity. A surefire read-aloud hit. (It’s also fabulous for making kids aware of print—learn more in our post about books for building print awareness.)

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Finders Keepers written & illustrated by Keiko Kasza

In this amusing, circular story, cute woodland creatures meet silly scenarios—all topped by a witty twist at the end. Squirrel uses a little red hat to mark the place where he’s buried his acorn. But when the wind blows the hat away, the other animals all want a piece of it, using it as everything from a nest, to a boat, to a clown nose. A great choice for younger readers, who will be tickled by the hat’s adventures and its temporary keepers alike, and will laugh along with the comedic suspense and repeated refrain.

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The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

A vivid and playful exploration of color, creativity, and challenging expectations, this book cleverly flips typical picture book perspectives and storytelling conventions with highly amusing results. Duncan just wants to draw. But what he finds, instead of his crayons, are messages—each one written by a different color, complaining of the hardships, slights, and rivalries upsetting them. 

Red is overworked, beige is woefully underused, and black only ever gets chosen to be the outline of things. Yellow and orange both believe they are the true color of the sun. How will Duncan resolve his crayons’ unhappiness? A longer read with lots to linger over in both text and illustration, this satisfyingly comical story is likely to appeal to younger and older readers time and again.    

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Rocket Says Look Up! by Nathan Bryon, illustrated by Dapo Adeola

This inspiring and highly entertaining story for all kids, while not purely humorous, owes a lot to its hilarious and spunky central character Rocket, and her big brother Jamal. Chatterbox Rocket loves science and space and can’t wait to watch a predicted meteor shower alongside as many people as she can gather to join her. Readers will love following her efforts, sprinkled with many laugh-out-loud moments, from jokes at the expense of Jamal—who’s too busy staring at his phone to look up at the stars or his surroundings—to Rocket’s infectious dance moves. 

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What children’s books sparked your imagination? Let us Which funny kids’ books spark laughs in your family? Have a suggestion to include in our list? Let us know!

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