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Developing Kids' Humor

Spend any amount of time with children, and you will realize that kids' humor is a world apart from an adult's sense of humor. Those tender years when children are beginning to read are also a critical time in the development of their understanding of humor.

Children need the opportunity to experiment on their own. Unfortunately for parents, that can mean sitting through endless knock-knock jokes with no punch line, jokes that you thought were funny when you were a kid, and noises and sights you would now describe as "disgusting." They must go through all of these steps before they can discriminate between what is humorous and what is not. (The trick really is learning how to react when they sincerely ask you, "Was that funny?")

So, what does all this have to do with reading? It is much easier to help a child become interested in reading if they have something to read that interests them. In this case, humor. Now, it may not always be an adult's breed of humor, but it is of major interest to many young readers. Here are a few ideas on how to use humor to increase interest in reading:

Read funny stories. There are many, many children's books that are just downright funny. Barbara Park is one author who has mastered the art of telling stories that are enjoyable to children and adults alike. You can find many other suggestions among our Book Reviews .

When reading to children, you may want to replace words throughout the story with their exact opposite. Kids like to catch you reading the words wrong, but they also are extremely amused with how silly the stories sound.

Mad Libs are very fun for children, and are available at most book stores. You can download and print similar silly stories from here:


A Crazy St. Patrick's Day

Your kids may also enjoy a game of "Silly Sentences," where the beginning and ending of different sentences are mismatched.

Using a child's developing sense of humor to promote reading is a great way to keep them interested. (And, with any luck, you will be there to help guide them in their exploration of humor, and eventually, their jokes may become more entertaining.)

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