Silly Books to Read Aloudby Rob Reid
Acclaimed children’s book authority Rob Reid creates the ultimate guide to choosing fun and funny stories to read with and to your children and grandchildren.With a concentrated look at the content and appeal of many different titles, he helps you find exactly the right books to share with young ones. More than simply a recommended reading list, the books in
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Acclaimed children’s book authority Rob Reid creates the ultimate guide to choosing fun and funny stories to read with and to your children and grandchildren.With a concentrated look at the content and appeal of many different titles, he helps you find exactly the right books to share with young ones. More than simply a recommended reading list, the books in this guide assist with language development while also encouraging good reading habits, improved comprehension, and broadened vocabulary. Those looking for suggestions outside this book will find a "Hall of Fame" listing of notable children's literature authors for any age level. Featuring a comprehensive selection of stories for preschoolers, emergent readers, and children ready for chapter books, this guide is a go-to for parents, grandparents, teachers, and caregivers.
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Silly Books to Read Aloud
By Rob Reid
American Library AssociationCopyright © 2013 the American Library Association
All rights reserved.
The Silliest Picture Books
Milo's Hat Trick
Illustrated by the author. Hyperion, 2001
Milo the Magnificent is not a very good magician. "He botched his card trick. He tangled his rope trick. And his hat trick was pathetic." He is told to pull a rabbit out of his hat or else. Instead of a rabbit, Milo catches a bear. The bear is very adept at hiding in a hat. He agrees to help Milo with his show, but the two become separated. The bear finally locates Milo, and the magician becomes a success. "After popping in and out of seven hundred and sixty-two hats," the bear decides to quit the show. Milo lets him go and learns how to dive into the hat himself. The illustration of the bear popping out of the hat in a crowded restaurant going "TA-DA!" is precious.
Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. Dutton, 1992
A young carpenter is unhappy with his work. He wonders what the future holds for him. He finds a fortune-teller in the neighboring town. The fortune-teller's first prediction is "You're going to pay me a nice fee." He also tells the young man that he'll become rich: "On one condition: that you earn large sums of money." The carpenter enjoys this prediction as well as others. He leaves, but then realizes he has more questions. When he goes back, the fortune-teller is no longer there. A woman mistakes the carpenter for the fortune-teller. "You've changed yourself into a handsome young man!" The carpenter starts playing the role of the fortune-teller. He becomes successful. When a customer asks if she will live a long life, the new fortune-teller responds, "Indeed so. You only need to stay healthy and keep breathing." We later see a humorous, multipage explanation of the disappearance of the first fortune-teller.
Miss Nelson Is Missing!
Illustrated by James Marshall. Houghton Mifflin, 1977
"The kids in Room 207 were misbehaving again." They are the worst-behaved students in the whole school. "They were even rude during story hour." They finally drive their nice teacher, Miss Nelson, away. The kids are forced to shape up when confronted by the meanest substitute in the world — Viola Swamp. Viola has a cruel-looking face, wears an ugly black dress, and has a no-nonsense attitude. The students start looking for Miss Nelson. They even go to the police. Miss Nelson returns and the kids are ecstatic. "Miss Nelson noticed that during story hour no one was rude or silly." Later on in the book, we see an ugly black dress in Miss Nelson's closet.
Companion books: Miss Nelson Is Back (Houghton Mifflin, 1982); Miss Nelson Has a Field Day (Houghton Mifflin, 1985)
Alley, Zoë B.
There's a Wolf at the Door: Five Classic Tales
Illustrated by R. W. Alley. Roaring Brook, 2008
A wolf moves from one story to another in this collection of five traditional folktales. First he encounters the three pigs — Alan, Gordon, and Blake — and runs away from them when he fails to get into the brick house. The wolf also appears in versions of "Little Red Riding Hood," "The Wolf and the Seven Little Goslings," "The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing," and "The Boy Who Cried Wolf." In this last story, the sheep make hilarious asides about the young shepherd, such as "What a mutton head," and "We all had such high hopes for him. Better than Little Bo Peep."
Catalina Magdalena Hoopensteiner Wallendiner Hogan Logan Bogan Was Her Name
Illustrated by the author. Scholastic, 2004
This book is based on an old nonsensical camp song. We see Catalina Magdalena grow up and notice that there are some peculiar things about her. "Well, she had two peculiar hairs on her head; One was black and one was red ... some folks say her breath smells sweet; But me, I'd rather smell her feet." She also has two holes in her nose — "one for her fingers and one for her toes." Catalina Magdalena eventually graduates from high school, gets a job at a fish factory, falls in love, and marries a man named Smith. Arnold includes other variations of her name in the back matter along with a score of the song.
The Completed Hickory Dickory Dock
Illustrated by Eileen Christelow. Atheneum, 1990
We learn what happens after the famous nursery rhyme is over and the clock strikes two. "Nibble on, bibble on, bees. / The mouse bit off some cheese. / The clock struck two, / Away he flew. / Nibble on, bibble on, bees." When the clock strikes three, the mouse scratches a flea. When the clock strikes four, the mouse rolls on the floor (while wearing a cape and mask). After the cat chases the mouse into a hole, the clock strikes five and the mouse is happy to be alive. The mouse plays some tricks on the cat when the clock strikes six. The rhyme continues through the mouse having wonderful dreams. "The clock struck twelve, / Now dream some yourselves. / Silvery, bilvery, beams."
The Tale of Tricky Fox: A New England Trickster Tale
Illustrated by Barbara McClintock. Scholastic, 2001
Tricky Fox develops a plan to trick a human out of a fat pig. His brother says he'll eat his hat if the plan works. Tricky Fox finds an elderly woman. He asks her to watch his sack but not to look into it. The woman looks into the sack anyway and finds only a log. When she falls asleep, the fox throws the log into the fire. The next morning, he looks in his sack and wonders what has happened to his loaf of bread. The woman can't tell him there was no bread without giving up the fact that she peeked into the sack. So she gives him a loaf of bread. The fox pulls a similar trick with another old woman. On his third attempt, the lady places her bulldog in Fox's sack. Tricky Fox missed one important thing — the third lady was a teacher. "And Tricky Fox didn't know that teachers are not so easy to fool as regular humans are."
My Cat, the Silliest Cat in the World
Illustrated by the author. Abrams, 2006
The narrator talks about his cat, including how he sleeps on the couch but has little bursts of energy during which he runs around the house. The illustrations show that the "cat" is really an elephant. Young readers will enjoy the scenes of the elephant hiding in the washing machine, cleaning itself (sucking water from the toilet with his truck and spraying itself), and using the litter box. The narrator mentions that cats usually land on their feet after falling and concedes that his cat doesn't (we see the elephant on its back with a broken loft railing overhead). The book ends with the narrator unsuccessfully trying to figure out his cat's breed from a cat book.
Companion book: When the Silliest Cat Was Small (Abrams, 2007)
Such a Prince
Illustrated by John Manders. Clarion, 2007
This retelling of the folktale "The Three Peaches" is narrated by Gaborchik the fairy. "As fairies go, I'm not the flashy kind. Glass slippers and pumpkin carriages are just not my style." She helps Marvin, the youngest of three sons, win the hand of the princess, who is "deathly ill." Marvin brings three peaches to the princess, and she "jumps to her feet, and begins to dance a fandango." The king tries to keep Marvin from marrying his daughter by giving him seemingly impossible tasks. During one of his tasks, Marvin tricks the king into kissing a donkey three times. When the donkey-kissing incident is about to be revealed, his majesty interrupts: "Test's over." The king insists that Marvin and the princess get married immediately.
Illustrated by Adam Rex. Simon & Schuster, 2009
What looks like a simple rhyming guessing game for little children turns into a series of fun and absurd setups. For example, the first illustration shows a silhouette of what looks like a bunny. The text reads, "He steals carrots from the neighbor's yard. / His hair is soft, his teeth are hard. / His floppy ears are long and funny. / Can you guess who? That's right! My ..." We anticipate the answer will be bunny. However, when we turn the page, we find that the answer is instead "Grandpa Ned." No, his name doesn't rhyme, but his contortions correctly match the silhouette. Grandpa Ned shows up again, and when we finally anticipate "Ned," because the setup rhyme is "bread," the answer turns out to be "Grandpa Alan."
Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing
Illustrated by Ron Barrett. Atheneum, 1970
If animals wore clothing, there'd be all sorts of problems. The hilarious illustrations depict a porcupine's quills poking through the clothes, a goat eating its outfit, a sheep getting too hot, a mouse completely covered by its hat, a camel wearing hats on its humps, and a walrus getting its clothes all wet. It would also be unnecessary for a kangaroo (we see the kangaroo wearing a coat with big pockets) and silly for a giraffe (it's wearing several neckties on its long neck). The funniest picture is that of a hen wearing pants and hovering near its nest. There is a silhouette of an egg in the bottom of the pants, unable to drop down into the nest. The book concludes with a picture of an elephant wearing the same floral-patterned dress as a woman.
Companion book: Animals Should Definitely Not Act like People (Atheneum, 1980)
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Illustrated by Ron Barrett. Atheneum, 1978
A man tells his grandchildren "the best tall-tale bedtime story he'd ever told." "There were no food stores in the town of Chewandswallow." That's because food fell from the sky, three times a day — breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Folks would watch the weather forecast on the television to see what the menu of the day would be. "After a brief shower of orange juice, low clouds of sunny-side up eggs moved in followed by pieces of toast." It also rained soup and juice and snowed mashed potatoes and green peas. Hot dogs blew in, and when the winds shifted, baked beans fell. One day, the weather took a turn for the worse. The headlines of the paper read "Spaghetti Ties Up Town!" Kids were upset because they had Brussels sprouts for their birthday parties. The townspeople left Chewandswallow on rafts made from giant peanut butter sandwiches and sailed to a new land where food could only be found in stores.
Companion book: Pickles to Pittsburgh (Atheneum, 1997)
Shark vs. Train
Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. Little, Brown, 2010
A shark and an anthropomorphic train compete head-to-head in many silly situations. Sometimes a scenario gives the advantage to the shark and sometimes it gives the advantage to the train. The train has the advantage at an amusement park. There is a long line of kids waiting to ride the train. No one is in line to go on the shark ride. In fact, there is a sign that reads, "You Must Be This Crazy to Go on This Ride," complete with a height indicator. The shark has the advantage when jumping off the high dive into a pool of water. In the end, we see two boys playing with a toy shark and a toy train.
Soap! Soap! Don't Forget the Soap! An Appalachian Folktale
Illustrated by Andrew Glass. Holiday House, 1993
Plug has a poor memory. His mother sends him on an errand to buy soap. She tells him, "'Now don't forget, Plug,' she said with the faith that only a mother could have. 'Soap! Soap! Don't forget the soap!'" He chants this phrase over and over. He startles a woman, who falls into a creek. She dunks him and says, "What a mess I've become, but now you're one, too!" Plug continues on his trip, but now he says this new phrase. He repeats it when he sees a boy who has fallen off his bike. The boy thinks Plug is making fun of him and tosses Plug in the blackberry brambles. The boy says, "Look who's in a fix now!" Of course, Plug says this new phrase until he comes across another person. Eventually, someone mentions the word "soap," and Plug remembers his task. His mother looks at her now messy boy, tells him, "I'd say soap is just what we need," and plunks him in a wooden bathtub.
My Father, the Dog
Illustrated by Randy Cecil. Candlewick, 2006
A child has a theory that her father is really a dog. "Consider the evidence." Indeed, the father is shown next to the family dog in each illustration, almost mimicking the pet. Father starts the day by scratching himself, fetching the newspaper, chasing a ball, and investigating noises. He also likes to roughhouse, lie around for hours, and ride in the car with the windows rolled down. He will growl "when you startle him out of a nap." He is very loyal to the entire family, which is good, because "Mom says we can keep him." All ages will be particularly amused by the fact that "when he toots, he looks around the room like someone else did it."
Miss Brooks Loves Books! (and I Don't)
Illustrated by Michael Emberley. Knopf, 2010
Miss Brooks, the school librarian, is super-excited about books. She dresses up as children's book characters and "all year long ... reads us books." Some of the characters Miss Brooks dresses up as are the Runaway Bunny, Babar the elephant, one of the wild things from Where the Wild Things Are, and the caterpillar from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Unfortunately, the narrator doesn't feel the same way about books. She asks her mother if they can move. "My mother says there's a librarian in every town." The girl finally gets excited when she finds the book Shrek by William Steig. She dresses up as "a stubborn, smelly, snorty ogre."
Children Make Terrible Pets
Illustrated by the author. Little, Brown, 2010
Lucy, a young bear, finds a human boy in the woods. It squeaks at her. "OH! MY! GOSH! You are the cutest critter in the WHOLE forest!" She brings the boy to her mother and asks if she can keep him. Her mother replies, "Children make terrible pets." Lucy convinces her mother, and she and the boy play together, eat together, and nap together. There are problems. The boy ruins the furniture, refuses to use the litter box, and throws temper tantrums. Lucy is devastated when the boy goes missing. She follows his scent through the woods and sees that he's reunited with his human family (to Lucy's ears, they are all squeaking, too).
Bruchac, Joseph, and James Bruchac
How Chipmunk Got His Stripes: A Tale of Bragging and Teasing
Illustrated by Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey. Dial, 2001
Bear brags about being the biggest, strongest, and loudest animal of them all. Brown Squirrel challenges Bear by asking Bear to tell the sun not to rise in the morning. Bear shouts, "SUN, DO NOT COME UP TOMORROW." Bear and Brown Squirrel stay up all night. Bear sings, "The sun will not come up, humph!" Brown Squirrel starts singing, "The sun is going to rise, oooh!" When the sun comes up, Bear is very grumpy. Brown Squirrel foolishly teases Bear. "WHOMP! Bear's big paw came down on Brown Squirrel, pinning him to the ground." Brown Squirrel tricks Bear into lifting up his paw just enough so he "could take a deep breath and apologize." Brown Squirrel escapes, but Bear's claws rake his back, leaving white scars. And that's why we now have Chipmunk. To this day, Chipmunk still sings his morning song, and Bear is the last animal to wake up, because he dislikes Chipmunk's song.
Companion books: Turtle's Race with Beaver: A Traditional Seneca Story (Dial, 2003); Raccoon's Last Race: A Traditional Abenaki Story (Dial, 2004)
Illustrated by the author. Roaring Brook, 2005
This ABC book goes through the alphabet not once, not twice, but four times. The first time through, we see Bruel's trademark cat being offered healthy food from Asparagus to Zucchini. Bad Kitty is not happy and decides to be bad. She misbehaves her way through the alphabet, from "Ate My Homework" to "Zeroed the Zinnias." Kitty leaves a nasty note when she quarrels with the neighbors. The note reads, "Dear Neighbor, Meow Hiss Hiss Hiss Meow Meow Hiss Meow!" Bad Kitty is then offered a weird litany of food, from "An Assortment of Anchovies" to "Zebra Ziti." Bad Kitty decides to be good and alphabetically atones for her naughtiness, from "Apologized to Grandma" (for biting her earlier) to lulling the baby to sleep, "Zzzzzzzz."
Companion books: Poor Puppy (Roaring Brook, 2007); A Bad Kitty Christmas (Roaring Brook, 2011). There are also chapter books featuring Bad Kitty.
A Boy and His Bunny
Illustrated by Tom Murphy. Arcade, 2005
A boy wakes up to find a bunny on his head. He names the bunny Fred. "'Good morning,' said Fred, the bunny on his head. And the boy got out of bed with you-know-who on his head." The two go about their day. His mother is puzzled at the sight of her son, but the boy tells her, "You can do anything with a bunny on your head." Examples include spreading peanut butter, leading armies, and exploring the seabed. His mother tells him that he looks cool with a bunny on his head. At that moment, the boy's sister walks in with an alligator on her head.
Companion books: A Girl and Her Gator (Arcade, 2006); A Bear and His Boy (Arcade, 2007)
The Principal's New Clothes
Illustrated by Denise Brunkus. Scholastic, 1989
Principal Bundy is the sharpest dresser in town in this retelling of "The Emperor's New Clothes." His students call out, "Looking good, Mr. B!" Sometimes Mr. Bundy goes home at lunch and changes, "just to show off." A couple of tricksters named Moe and Ivy ask Mr. Bundy if he'd "like to buy an amazing, one-of-a-kind suit." They inform him that the suit is made from special cloth that's "invisible to anyone who is no good at his job or just plain stupid." Mr. Bundy pays for his new suit. He plans to premiere it at the school assembly. "That night Mr. Bundy had cold and drafty dreams." When Mr. Bundy walks into the auditorium, a kindergartner yells, "The principal's in his underwear!" Mr. Bundy is embarrassed, but the students and teachers help out by passing up parts of their own clothing. The last picture shows Mr. Bundy wearing this mish-mash of clothes with the caption "Mr. Bundy was still the sharpest dresser in town."
Companion book: The Frog Principal (Scholastic, 2001)
Excerpted from Silly Books to Read Aloud by Rob Reid. Copyright © 2013 the American Library Association. Excerpted by permission of American Library Association.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Rob Reid is a writer and an instructor at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. He is the author of Family Storytime, Reid's Read-Alouds, and Something Funny Happened at the Library. He lives in Eau Claire, Wisconsin
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