Bookbug's Big Giggle: Why Funny Books Matter

Humour, I think, brings us together.

These wise words from former Children’s Laureate and current Bookbug Bag Author, Michael Rosen, ring very true as we celebrate Bookbug’s Big Giggle this week. Whether it’s sharing a funny picture book with your children or remembering how much they laugh out loud when you tickle them at the end of Round and Round the Garden, Bookbug Week this year is all about sharing a fun moment together as a family.

For many families in Scotland, finding these moments of joy is so important. We heard some sobering statistics about the number of children living in poverty at our annual conference last year; but it’s not just these families that face difficult times. Mental health illnesses like depression or stress can impact all families, regardless of economic circumstances.

I want my hat back
Finding a moment to laugh can have huge benefits for everyone’s mental health, and funny stories are a simple place to start. Sharing books is the perfect time to relax with your little ones and try out some silly voices, noises, and facial expressions. I doubt there are many babies who wouldn’t giggle at a peekaboo book, or children who wouldn’t laugh if someone gave the mean baddie a really squeaky voice!

 

It’s in these moments that all of us can be transported away from whatever other stresses we’re facing.

Historically, funny books were seen to be less important than more serious texts. As Rosen suggests, however, ‘being funny is one extremely good way to engage children's interest in reading’. There’s so much emphasis on the process of learning to read, but if we really want to instill a love of books in children from a very young age and promote ‘reading for pleasure’, then the feel-good factor that comes from funny books is a great motivator.

Funny books should not all be judged as silly or nonsensical; many have very important messages to communicate

In the context of picture books, humour can also be used as a way to address serious issues. We’ve said before that picture books have the power to help children make sense of the world, but there’s no reason why this can’t be done through comedy. The death of the rabbit in Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back, or the emotional stress experienced by Bella in My Big Shouting Day are both examples of real-life drama played out in a light-hearted way. Funny books should not all be judged as silly or nonsensical; many have very important messages to communicate.

Michael Rosen
Findings from Scholastic’s Kids & Family Reading Report found that two-thirds of children aged 6-17 looked for books that ‘made them laugh’ when choosing books for themselves. This was a key driver behind the Laugh Out Loud Awards (the ‘Lollies’), run by Scholastic and voted for by children. The awards celebrate the best funny books for children in three age categories, with I Need a Wee winning in the picture book category last year. 

 

So as we celebrate Bookbug Week, we encourage you all to find a moment to share some funny books together. Be guided by what makes your little one smile, or belly laugh – and remember that sharing that fun moment together is really all that matters.

 

You will find plenty of books guaranteed to bring a smile to your face on our special Bookbug Week book lists, including 17 Rib-Tickling Books, Monkeys and Bananas, Get the Giggles, and Books about Tickles.  

The Lollies shortlist for 2017 will be announced on 5 June – keep an eye on their website for more information!