Books That Make You Laugh Out Loud

Waiting is Not Easy by Mo Willems

age 4+

Gerald is careful. Piggie is not.
Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can.
Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to.

Gerald and Piggie are best friends.

In Waiting Is Not Easy!, lPiggie has a surprise for Gerald, but he is going to have to wait for it. And Wait. And wait some more…

Parents need to know that Waiting Is Not Easy! is another spirited installment in Mo Willems‘ award-winning Elephant & Piggie series for beginning readers. Like I Am a Frog, it’s a straightforward lesson with a small surprise at the end, delving less deeply than usual into the two mismatched characters’ endearing friendship. Still, it’s a humorous lesson for kids often frustrated by waiting and what kinds of rewards waiting can bring. As in the other Elephant & Piggie books, the story’s told in conversation bubbles and in the exaggerated expressions of the animal characters, making it easy for parents of kids with social delays to explore conversation tools and feelings.

Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham

age 4+

What starts out as a typical alphabet book (“A is for Apple,” “B is for Ball”) explodes into hysterical mayhem when scene-stealing Moose muscles in on Duck’s page to make it D is for Moose, then gets booted off by Zebra, the stage manager/referee with a clipboard. Moose keeps butting in too early; then, when it’s finally the M page, he finds that in this book, M is for Mouse, and he goes nuts — stomping on the pie on the P page, upsetting the queen on the Q page — and tries to worm his way onto every other letter’s page until finally giving up in tears on the xylophone. But then kind Zebra offers him a spot on the last page: “Z is for Zebra’s friend, Moose.”

Parents need to know that Z Is for Moose is a truly original alphabet book that shows Moose getting upset when the makers of the book choose to put a mouse on the M page instead of him. He rampages through the rest of the book, even taking a crayon to the R and S pages, crossing out “ring” and “snake” and writing in his own name instead, and adding antlers to the ring and the snake. It’s fresh, funny, and silly and may help kids remember the alphabet.

The Bad Guys Series by Aaron Blabey

age 7+

They sound like the Bad Guys, they look like the Bad Guys . . . and they even smell like the Bad Guys. But Mr Wolf, Mr Piranha, Mr Snake and Mr Shark are about to change all of that! Mr Wolf has a daring plan for the Bad Guys first good mission. The gang are going to break 200 dogs out of the Maximum Security City Dog Pound. Will Operation Dog Pound go smoothly? Will the Bad Guys become the Good Guys? And will Mr Snake please spit out Mr Piranha?

Parents need to know that Aaron Blabey’s Bad Guys series about misfit animals on a quest to prove they aren’t as bad as their species’ reputations is a quick, hilarious read, and a fun bunch of graphic novels. The stories don’t offer much in the way of life lessons or modeling how friends should treat each other, but the dialogue between the shark, wolf, snake, and piranha is snappy, full of jokes and insults between friends, and a good amount of potty humor. In other words, young readers will likely enjoy these books, and parents won’t mind reading these aloud, but will likely hope that some of the phrases aren’t repeated (too often) at the dinner table.

The Terrible Two By Jory John and Mac Barnett

age 8+   

Zany fun, great writing in smart prankster tale with heart. Miles is miserable about moving to Yawnee Valley, remarkable only for its enthusiasm for cows. Miles was the best prankster ever at his old school, and he aims to be the best one at his new school. But as soon as he sees the principal’s car at the top of the stairs, blocking the school entrance, it immediately becomes clear this school already has a prankster — a very, very good one. Miles sets out to make a name for himself, but his rival thwarts him at every turn. Making matters worse, purple-faced Principal Barkin blames Miles for the other prankster’s mischief, and the principal’s son decides Miles is a great target for bullying. Soon Miles has a choice: Team up with his adversary, or try to go it alone.

Parents need to know that The Terrible Two is a terrific collaboration from Mac Barnett (Extra Yarn), Jory John (All My Friends Are Dead), and Kevin Cornell (Count the Monkeys). No need to worry about aspiring pranksters getting too many ideas: Not only are the pranks absurdly over the top, but also the boys hew to a code of conduct that rejects doing any real damage. They do maintain, however, that their targets “have it coming,” and they don’t face consequences (other than Miles’ mortification when he’s upstaged). The poor principal is wonderfully absurd in his ambition and logic, with a few sympathetic notes.

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

age 6+

Where the sidewalk ends, Shel Silverstein’s world begins. There you’ll meet a boy who turns into a TV set and a girl who eats a whale. The Unicorn and the Bloath live there, and so does Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout who will not take the garbage out. It is a place where you wash your shadow and plant diamond gardens, a place where shoes fly, sisters are auctioned off, and crocodiles go to the dentist.

Parents need to know that Where the Sidewalk Ends is a beloved collection of humorous poems and drawings first published by Shel Silverstein (The Giving Tree) in 1974. Some poems are a bit macabre — a skinny boy who disappears down the bathtub drain, a crocodile with a toothache who chomps a sadistic dentist, and so on. But there’s compassion and morality in here too, leavened with comic mayhem. Great as a read aloud for pre-readers, a book for beginning readers, and a surefire hit with third and fourth graders who get a kick out of reading and reciting the many funny poems.

Age ranges and “what parents need to know” courtesy of

Debbie Trask