Where Can You Find Funny Easy Readers?
For the last twenty years, I have read aloud to my kids every day. I started when my kids were about 15 months and am still going strong with two of my youngest who are now 12 and 14. Believe me, I have gotten so tired of re-reading some books that I've quietly hidden them, or even given them away. On the other hand, there are some books I look for on the shelves because I want to read them again. What makes a book retain its magic on every reading?
Books that make me laugh are high on my list, but there are not many really funny books for easy readers. As anyone who has ever tried to tell a joke knows, making people laugh isn't easy. Funny books are hard to write. Books that are funny to both five-year-olds and their parents are very hard to write. Hilarious books that stick within the word and sentence length guidelines for beginning readers are almost impossible. I'm going to write a series of hubs on great children's books that are worth re-reading.
Funny Easy Readers Help Kids Enjoy Stories
Funniest Easy Reader Author: Denys Cazet
First on my list is Denys Cazet, who is probably the only author of easy readers who consistently writes hilarious stories that are so funny at times they make me cry. I'm not surprised that Cazet was a teacher for many years and also a school librarian. You can tell he loves kids and knows what makes a good book. Best of all, he writes his humorous children's books in a series, so you don't have to stop at just one!
Favorite Funny Easy Readers
Minnie and Moo: Funny Easy Reader Series
Cazet conceived of his Minnie and Moo series after passing by a herd of cows. All the cows were facing one way except for two, who stood close together and facing the other way, just like two gossipy girlfriends. These two nonconformist cows became the Minnie and Moo characters of a whole series of books set on a farm full of other zany animals. In this hilarious series, the two cow girlfriends manage to use cast-off costumes and leftover supplies in the barn to pull all sorts of capers on the other farm animals, the farmer and his wife, and even the unsuspecting town residents.
Drawing on stock comedic characters, Cazet creates satires on old plots which draw the adult reader along for the ride. Minnie and Moo are a Laurel and Hardy, a Groucho and his brothers, or probably more specifically a Lucy and an Ethel. Moo is the hair-brain who constantly imagines an imminent crisis and comes up with a crazy scheme to solve it. Moo is the cream puff loving accomplice, who constantly questions, but always goes along with Moo's elaborate plans.
Probably my very favorite book in the series is Minnie and Moo and the Attack of the Easter Bunnies. When the farmer tells his wife that he doesn't feel like dressing up as the Easter Bunny for the grand-kids, Moo is appalled. "What about the children?" She and Minnie plead to all of the other farm animals, one by one, attempting to get one of them to volunteer to act the part.
When all the animals turn them down, Minnie and Moo decide to squeeze their considerable bulk into the bunny suits. Hiding in the shed as they wait for the grand-kids to arrive, Minnie and Moo are surprised to find that all of the other animals are also in the shed, dressed and ready to go, even the ever-preening Elvis the Rooster who says, "The chickens made me do it." Always ready for improvisation, Moo suggests that they all go out one by one, and they do. The sheep jumping, Hamlet the pig prancing, Elvis strutting, the Turkeys squawking, and Minnie and Moo dancing. "Attack of the Easter Bunnies!" screams the farmer (my favorite part!), but the grand-kids love it. While his wife hugs him for coming up with such a clever plan, the farmer scratches his head and looks suspiciously at the two cows on the hill.
Cazet offers lots more fun with Minnie and Moo: Will you Be my Valentine?where Moo decides to write "love poems for the needy" and convinces Minnie to dress up in tights, tutus and wings. Armed with the poems and bows and arrows, they parade around the farm sending poems near and far. Unfortunately, however, the poems get a little mixed up. They hit Bea, one of the Holstein sisters with this poem: "Dearest Buffalo Lips, Your ultra-wide hips are as big as six ships. So what can I say, but 'anchors away!' Have a wonderful Valentine's day." Bea reads the message silently, then turns to her sister Madge, saying pointedly, "It's for you."
In Wanted Dead or Alive, Cazet plays on the Robin Hood and Al Capone movies when Moo overhears the farmer and his wife talking about not having enough money to pay their bills. Moo tells Minnie they need to go to the bank to ask them for money for the farmer. Deciding to "dress nice," they don overcoats, hats, and dark glasses. Grabbing a violin case to hold the money, they march into the bank where the teller takes one look at them and then a nearby wanted poster for the "Bazooka Sisters." Minnie and Moo are very pleased when the teller stuffs their violin case with money. Like most movie criminals on the lam, they have their happy getaway on the farmers tracker interrupted by a police chase. However, in this case, they escape undetected by parking the tractor, putting their disguises in the barn, and turning back into peacefully grazing cows under the oak tree on the hill. The money? Puzzled, the farmer collects it and gives it back to the bank manager, who gives him a one dollar reward. Precisely the amount, it turns out, that he needed to pay off his bills.
All of the Minnie and Moo tales are hilarious children's books and you will want to get the whole series. While many of them may not be available in bookstores, most of the books in the series are selling for under $5.00 on Amazon. Here are the titles of the rest of the series: Minnie and Moo Go Dancing, Minnie and Moo and the Case of the Missing Jelly Donut, Minnie and Moo meet Frankenswine, Minnie and Moo go to Paris,Minnie and Moo and the Night of the Living Bed, Minnie and Moo and the Seven Wonders of the World, Minnie and Moo and the Potato from Planet X, Minnie and Moo and the Musk of Zoro, Minnie and Moo and Moo and the Haunted Sweater, Minnie and Moo and the Night before Christmas, Minnie and Moo Save the Earth, Minnie and Moo go to the Moon, and Minnie and Moo and the Thanksgiving Tree.
Great Idea: Dad Reads Minnie and Moo on Video
Funny Books Make Kids Read More
More Favorite Easy Readers
Humorous Early Readers: Elvis the Rooster
Elvis, the strutting, hip-thrusting rooster, shows up as a bit player in several of the Minnie and Moo books. Cazet wisely realized that a character this big deserves his own series, which his publisher indicates he is still expanding.
In Elvis the Rooster Almost goes to Heaven, Cazet repeats a plot I've seen done much less successfully in several other children's books. In the middle of his morning crow to wake up the sun, Elvis gets a bug in his throat and can't make a sound. The sun rises anyway and Elvis is devastated. He retires to his bed with great melodrama, sure he won't survive the day. Worried that Elvis has lost his pluck ("his cluck? his duck?" asks the clueless Lena), the chickens call in the big guns, two trenchcoats and sunglass-clad poultry, Little Willie, and his henchman, Rocky the duck. Together the chicken girlfriends, they plot a scheme to trick Elvis into believing the sun is calling to him. Luckily for the reader, they are successful and Elvis rises to crow another day.
In Elvis the Rooster and the Magic Words, Elvis has worse problems than losing his cluck. Swooning over Little Willie's visiting friend, Cluck Gable, a Peacock, who isn't afraid of being kind to the ladies, the chickens decide that they are tired of Elvis's macho demands. When the chickens refuse to make his dinner and cater to his whims, as usual, Elvis begrudgingly learns to mind his manners, most of the time.
Grandpa Spanielton Humorous Kids Books
Grandpa Spanielson's Chicken Pox Stories
If you remember the movie "Princess Bride," you will recall the plot device of a grandpa reading a story to his grandson. In Cazet's Grandpa Spanielson's series, he uses a similar story frame. The grandson has chickenpox and the grandpa entertains him by telling him wild stories which come alive as he tells them.
Although I don't think this series has quite as much humor as some of Cazet's other books, it does offer the enjoyment of a grandparent sharing a special moment with a grandchild. Kids like having secrets, and these books emphasize that by having the Grandpa and Grandson keeping the stories a secret from Grandma, who can only wonder what caused water to be flung all over the bathroom (an octopus emerging from the drain!) in Grandpa Spanielson's Chicken Pox Stories: Story #1 The Octopus.
The third book in the series is probably the funniest: Grandpa Spanielson's Chicken Pox Stories: Story #3 The Shrunken Head. In this wild tall tale, Grandpa recalls how he and his friend, Doc Storkmeyer explored the jungle and encountered the bush Pooches, whose queen wanted to marry him. When he refused, they used their "shrink juice" on Doc Storkmeyer (explaining his small head) but by his wits and vigor, Grandpa rescued them and got Doc out alive. Another funny children's story which involves Grandma is Grandpa Spanielson's Chicken Pox Stories: Story #2 A Snout for Chocolate.
Librarian Reads Frosted Glass
How Funny Books Help Make Good Readers
Why Early Readers Need Lots of Good, Funny Books to Develop Fluency
There are two stages to learning to read. The first stage is decoding words and learning to understand how stories work. One important stage parents sometimes miss is the fluency stage, when kids are able to read mostly independently but need to read lots of books at the same level in order to get to be better readers.
Being a better reader means that they can read quickly, but also with feeling, which means they understand what they are reading. One of the best ways for kids to develop fluency is to read funny books which have a lot of dialogue. Denys Cazet books are perfect for this reading stage. Get this series to read to your younger kids, and then enjoy having them read to you when they are ready to develop into fantastic readers!