Q: What’s red and smells like blue paint? A: Red paint.
Q: What has a bottom at the top? A: Your pants!
Q: What’s brown and sticky? A: A stick!
White water rafting with the family plus two extra kiddos last week, we passed the time in some of the calmer waters telling jokes such as these.
Sure, some are total groaners, but still, it’s fun. Chief among the joke-tellers was our son. I’m pretty sure that none of the jokes (above) are his, as . . . well . . . . his funnies were, shall we say, a bit more off-color. (I still laughed. I just don’t want to tell you them right here, right now. You barely know me. Climb onto the front porch, though, grab yourself a margarita, and we can get a few chuckles in.)
Margarita, you ask? Back in Texas, where it is so hot you can cook an egg on the sidewalk, we’re enjoying them immensely, yes. The hubs and I have several recipes, but our go-to is the 6-4-2. Granted, my math skills are limited, but I can, miraculously, figure out that the recipe could just as easily be the 3-2-1, but it was told to me as “6-4-2” (one afternoon at the park by another mom), and that’s what we call it.
Anyway, the recipe:
6oz. tequila (your favorite kind)
4oz. lime juice (freshly squeezed. Do not even consider buying that nasty stuff at the grocery store.)
2 oz. agave nectar.
Stir it up so it is mixed well. Pour over ice and just watch your cares slip away.
Book ideas and the best margarita recipe, ever? I know. You totally scored landing here today.
<Being on the front porch allows me to deviate. It just does. Front porches do that. They just do. It won’t be the last time.>
Back to my son, the joke teller. He and our river guide attempted to one-up each other with the joke-telling; the water was cool, the mountains were beautiful, the company jovial, and it really was loads of fun.
It made me wonder if he is just naturally drawn to humor or if all those years of reading joke books created this funny teenager who keeps us all laughing. I think I’ve told you before that when he was a tot, he was a reluctant reader, and I attempted to lure him into the world of books in a number of ways — joke books were included in my arsenal.
Are they in yours?
I sincerely hope so.
Let’s dive right in. First of all, many children, reluctant readers or not, respond really well to white space. I mean just that – how much white space is on a page in a book. Joke books, by their very nature, are usually easy on the eye (sometimes with illustrations) and so from the get-go, they’re not intimidating.
And then, there are the jokes. Who doesn’t love some humor? Children often want to be the ones responsible for the laughs (or groans, even), and joke books can provide them with this power. Kids get a bang out of reading jokes aloud to their parents (or friends) and stumping them. Jokes can be funny, of course, but there is more to joke-telling than the quick laugh. When you share jokes and riddles, you’re interacting – what a concept in this day and age of holing up with an iPad! We are a social species, and joke telling practically requires a child to go find someone and share the words within the book and enjoy the experience together.
There’s more, too. For the reluctant reader, jokes are often repetitive. Repetition allows a weaker reader to figure out a word and use it again and again – great practice! And higher level thinking? Tons of it! Jokes rely on puns, word play, and double meanings; they might be considered as “light reading” by some, but they can really get a brain churning, thinking, and reasoning.
Take, for example:
Q: What building has the most stories? A: The Library!
Initially, when you hear this joke, you think stories as in the number of floors in a building. Of course, “stories” has more than one meaning, so in deconstructing this joke, we’re getting our brains to create pathways that consider the idea that one word has several meanings. In the English language, this is a handy skill to have, and it is a fun way to teach the concept to kiddos, without them even realizing they’re learning!
I’m not going to analyze a zillion jokes here for you now – you can easily do this on your own. But, really, pay attention to how much a single joke can impart. Joke books might just be the heaviest light reading there is for kids.
No, you’re a poo.
Knock-Knock Jokes can make you, as adult, want to regret ever teaching your child to read, but look here: I just gave you a quality margarita recipe. Pour yourself one of those bad boys, and allow your young reader to fire away at the knock-knock jokes. Talk about word play! Talk about repetitive reading (which just strengthens skills and builds confidence)! Talk about having old fashioned human communication with one another! Talk about hours of good ol’ knock-knock fun!
Want to dislike me even more? Two Words: Elephant Jokes. I don’t get it, either, but just as we all like different flavors of ice cream and enjoy different types of movies, well, we all have a difference sense of humor. Some people think elephant jokes are beyond hilarious, and if your child is one of them, indulge her (especially if she is a so-called reluctant reader). If you can’t get on board with it, maybe get yourself that second margarita because it really can be fun.
Encouraging your child to read independently and for pleasure can sometimes be tricky; joke books are your friends. If a library is using Dewey, joke books are usually in the 818 section, and likely, there will be plenty on the shelves. Bookstores the world over have humor sections, and you should be able to find all kinds of joke books there, too. Also? They make great birthday gifts for the elementary school set. (Great way to make friends with the parents, too!)
Keep joking and reading,
Contact me at fplweb (at) frontporchlibrarian dot com