Humor in Kids' and Young Adult Books for the Classroom for Preschool through Grade 9

An Annotated List of Some of Our Favorites

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Grades 4 - 9
The Moon and I by Betsy Byars. Nonfiction. 112 pages.
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With a light and humorous touch, Ms. Byars tells of the way she writes her books. Throughout the account, she also tells of her relationship with a snake, Moon, which she found near her cabin. Her need to learn more about snakes in general and Moon in particular became an obsession that, for a brief time, dominated her existence. That obsession, the reasons for it, and the ways in which she conducted her research are so interesting and helpful that you'll want to read the brief book aloud at the outset of a research project. Read More.

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Grades 2 - 6
Fanny's Dream by Caralyn Buehner. Illustrated by Mark Buehner. Picture Book. 32 pages.
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In Fanny's Dream we get a gentle, funny and warm story with echoes of a fairy tale. Fanny Agnes is a sturdy farm girl who dreams of marrying a prince, or at least the mayor's son. Convinced that, if it happened once, it can happen again, and ignoring the cruel taunts of her friends and relatives, Fanny waits in the garden in the moonlight for her fairy godmother to fix her up for the mayor's ball. Instead Heber, a short, kind farmer appears and asks for Fanny's hand. Read More.

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Grades K - 4
Buttons by Brock Cole. Picture Book. 32 pages.
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This is a delightfully silly tale of a man with three daughters who bursts his buttons which the daughters go to extraordinary lengths to replace. Cole's text is witty as well as silly and gives us a delightful tale. Read More.

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Grades 3 - 7
Book of Three: Book One of the Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. Novel. 190 pages.
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In this, the first book in the Prydain series, we meet Taran, the lowly assistant pig keeper. He yearns to escape his life in Caer Dallben and go into battle with his hero, Prince Gwydion. Alexander writes with humor and respect making this an outstanding fantasy series.

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Grades 1 - 5
The Fortune-Tellers by Lloyd Alexander. Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. Picture Book. 32 pages.
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A brilliant artist and a master storyteller combine efforts to create a fascinating and humorous tale. A young carpenter seeks a fortune teller to learn about his future. Will he be rich, famous and happy? Will he find his true love? He is conditionally assured of a very bright future but the advice is self-fulfilling: he will be rich if, the fortune teller says, he earns large sums of money, happy if he avoids misery, and live a long life unless he dies early.

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Grades 3 - 6
Ida Early Comes Over the Mountain by Robert Burch. Novel. 160 pages.
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Ida is a free spirit who, according to her, has been everywhere, done everything and done it well. She turned up at the door of the Sutton family in rural Georgia during the Depression looking for work, wearing a baggy brown sweater, overalls and clodhoppers with a buckeye dangling from one of the laces. The motherless Sutton family needs her as much as she needs them and Ida's presence is soon felt everywhere. When the other children at school make fun of Ida, hurting her feelings terribly, the Sutton children don't stand up for their friend and lose her, almost for good. Read More in our Featured Book article including classroom activities, related books and links.

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Grades PreK - 2
Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester. Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. Picture Book. 32 pages.
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Tacky just doesn't fit the group: he sings off key and sings crazy songs. His clothes are a mess and he is scorned by the other penguins until the hunters show up and Tacky convinces them, with his unpenguin-like behavior that there are no penguins here. The plot is nothing new but Tacky's zany behavior carries the day.

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Grades 2 - 5
The Frog Prince, Continued by Jon Scieszka. Illustrated by Steve Johnson. Picture Book. 32 pages.
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This is a true fairy tale extension in that we find out what happens after the princess marries the frog she kissed and turned into a prince. They didn't live happily ever after. He kept too many of his froggy ways to suit the fastidious princess. He thinks she nags too much. There is a solution, however.

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Grades 2 - 9
The Stinky Cheese Man: And Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka. Illustrated by Lane Smith. Picture Book. 56 pages.
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This humorous book of revisionist fairy tales is perfect for a diverse group of elementary school boys and girls. The ten complete stories are clever, amusing and true to their subtitle: "fairly stupid." These zany stories give students the opportunity to enjoy some modern takes on the traditional versions. There are combinations of more than one tale, new and different endings, and truly unusual twists.

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Grades 2 - 9
The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by A. Wolf by Jon Scieszka. Illustrated by Lane Smith. Picture Book. 32 pages.
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He was only trying to borrow a cup of sugar from his neighbors who happened to have built very flimsy houses. Not his fault! And all that huffing and puffing business? He had a cold. Could he help it that he sneezed too hard? Once the pigs were just lying there defenseless he’d be a poor excuse for a wolf for not taking advantage of the situation.

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Grades PreK - 3
Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin. Illustrated by Harry Bliss. Picture Book. 30 pages.
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This is the sequel to Diary of a Worm. Here we have a young spider at home and at school. On grandparents day his grandfather teaches the class the difference between spiders and insects, that spiders keep the insect population in check, and that "butterflies taste better with a little barbecue sauce." This is a great book for a unit on spiders or for getting kids to loosen up and laugh.

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Grades PreK - 3
What Really Happened to Humpty?: From the Files of a Hard-Boiled Detective by Jeanie Franz Ransom. Illustrated by Stephen Axelsen. Picture Book. 40 pages.
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We all know Humpty Dumpty had a great fall but along comes his brother, Joe Dumpty, a detective (complete with trench coat and fedora), to find out what really happened. Did he fall, or was he pushed? This spoof of film noir detective stories features Mother Goose characters such as Goldilocks, Bo Peep and the Big Bad Wolf. The complicated tale is also loaded with word-play. A fun exploration of one type of detective story and a great way to play with nursery rhyme stories. For students who may not have had a lot of exposure to nursery rhymes before entering school here's an excuse to revisit them.

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Grades PreK - 2
The Hat by Jan Brett. Picture Book. 32 pages.
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Lisa’s knit sock blows off the clothesline. When a curious hedgehog sticks his head inside, his quills prevent him from pulling out. Many other animals come to laugh at his ridiculous position but the hedgehog thinks of a variety of reasons why such a hat is a good thing.

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Related Areas of Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Site

  • Subjects Index: A listing by subject of our Featured Subject Articles with classroom activities, recommended books and links as well as our Annotated Booklists.

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