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Book Club for Kids is a podcast where middle school readers discuss the books they love with host Kitty Felde. The author answers questions. A celebrity reads from the book.

Tips for Reluctant Readers

Tip #25: Make 'Em Laugh

Kitty Felde

Never underestimate the power of funny.

How do you make a hot dog stand? Take away its chair.*

Silly, I know. But back when I was shelving books at our local branch of the LA County Library, riddle collections were the most beat-up books in the building. Kids loved them. They still do.

Humor is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal when it comes to enticing reluctant readers to pick up a book. And not just joke books.

Jess Stork at the Georgetown branch of the DC Public Library calls humor "a great gateway into reading" - particularly for reluctant readers. She says it works because humor is a "universal experience." Jess says she particularly likes humor books that center on one character. "It makes it a lot easier for the reader to form an emotional attachment with the character."

Her go-to books? The ORIGAMI YODA series by Tom Angleberger. (Which are a favorite of the kids at Thomson Elementary in Washington DC. You can listen to the episode here.) 

Need more suggestions? How about these:

*Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids - Rob Elliott
Milo Speck, Accidental Agent - Linda Urban
The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death - Daniel Pinkwater


Humor also aids in reading comprehension. A trio of researchers in Iran looked at how well students learning a second language remembered what they read. They found that humor was "intrinsically motivating" and helped to "maintain interest during the lesson." But it also helped with memory. Why? Their conclusion: jokes arouse emotion and emotion "leads to better remembering." Read more here.

Got a favorite funny book? Or a suggestion of your own to tempt reluctant readers? Email us! We'll feature your tip in an upcoming newsletter and include it on our website.