The funniest books for kids

Mar 25, 2010 at 6:49 p.m. ET

Can you remember the last time you read a book that made you laugh aloud? Can you think of a book that still makes you laugh when you remember reading it? Truly funny books are rare finds to be treasured and reread again and again. The best ones are those that grab even the most reluctant readers and deliver such a payoff that books are suddenly intriguing and worth the effort expended.

Treat your child to an afternoon at the library or the bookstore. Browse the stacks, and talk to a librarian or salesperson who can take a few minutes to make recommendations and introduce you to names and titles you've never heard of. Here's a quick list to get you started – but use it only as a jumping off point. Discovering new books is half the fun!

for younger children:

For younger children who still enjoy being read to, try Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, by Judi Barrett, the story of a town where the weather is edible.

The Alexander books by Judith Viorst -- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday, and Alexander, Who's Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move are also funny stories for younger children. (And if you enjoy them, after you put the kids to bed you can read Alexander and the Wonderful, Marvelous, Excellent, Terrific Ninety Days: An Almost Completely Honest Account of What Happened to Our Family When Our Youngest ... Came to Live with Us for Three Months – if the title alone doesn't tell you, it is hysterical.)

for elementary age children:

If you can tolerate the atrocious grammar, the Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park makes kids laugh – and it encourages a lot of otherwise reluctant readers. Much of the humor only applies to the elementary school set, but it does keep them entertained for a long time.

For late elementary school students, Judy Blume still delivers after all these years. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Superfudge, and Double Fudge are all honest, funny stories.

for tween and teen children: 

If you have an older but still reluctant reader, try Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid. It's peppered with enough cartoon illustrations to keep kids engaged, and the voice is believable, sarcastic, and fun.

It's a little bit hard to find, but if you can dig up a copy of The Animal, The Vegetable, and John D. Jones, by Betsy Byars, you won't regret it. Tweens will enjoy this funny story of two girls forced to vacation with their father, his new girlfriend, and her son.

Older readers will devour Megan McCafferty's Sloppy Firsts and its sequels. The series is incredibly real, funnier than anything written for grown-ups, and touches on mature themes – but nothing your teenager isn't already dealing with in high school.


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