Teachers for Teachers | #PB10for10- Give Humor a Try
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#PB10for10- Give Humor a Try

Choosing a theme for this year’s Picture Book 10 for 10 Event came to us unexpectedly as we sat in a session at Nerd Camp titled, Funny Bones: The Anatomy of a Giggle.  (If you haven’t gone to this conference, give it a try next summer –Thought-provoking, inspirational, and a ton of fun!)

As we listened to children’s book authors Molly Burnham, Jacqueline Davies and Juana Medina describe “Humor Theories” – ways writers make something funny – we knew we had a Picture Book 10 for 10 theme we wanted to explore.

So many young writers want to make their readers laugh, but they are unsure how to do it – Before this session, we didn’t know about “humor theories” either.  This session helped us name the way authors use humor so we could help students study the craft of humor just like they study other writing crafts.

These ten picture books all use the “humor theory” of incongruity in slightly different ways.  What is the humor theory of incongruity you ask?

Molly Burnham explained this theory during the workshop – Incongruity is when something is funny because the reader expects one thing to happen but suddenly a different thing happens.  Incongruity can also be shown when two incompatible concepts are put together (i.e. In Harry Potter, Headmaster Dumbledore eats earwax flavored jellybeans.  Sophisticated Dumbledore and earwax just don’t go together!)  As we learned about how authors bring out in humor in writing, we thought about books students could explore to study the theory of incongruity in depth.

Here are ten picture books we are excited to study with writers so they can learn more about how to make their readers giggle:

  1. Diary of a Wombat, Jackie French
    Show that the characters have different feelings instead of telling the reader -the Wombat loves a dirt bath but the humans do not.
  1. We Are Growing, Mo Willems and Laurie Keller

Take something predictable, like grass growing, and give “that thing” human characteristics.


  1. How to Lose All Your Friends, Nancy Carlson

Take something that you would never want to have happen and make it the main character’s goal.

  1. I Fly, The Buzz about Flies and How Awesome The Are, Bridget Heos

Think about a story from a different character’s perspective.

  1. Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping, Melanie Watt

Put a character in an unusual setting and see what happens.

  1. Are We There Yet? Dan Santat

Think about a predictable situation and then make something unexpected occur.

  1. AH HA! Jeff Mack

Use the same or similar words in different ways.

  1. Interrupting Chicken, David Ezra Stein

Have the character foil the plot of a text.

  1. The Book with No Pictures, B. J. Novak

Make the reader say unusual things.

  1. The Day the Crayons Quit, Drew Daywalt

Give inanimate objects strong personalities.

A big thank you to Jacqueline Davies, Juana Medina and Molly Burnham for leading a workshop on humor and inspiring us to think about ways to support young writers.  You broadened the way we look at picture books and helped us find the language we needed to bring more laughter into writing workshop.

A big thank you to Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek for hosting this event.  Each year this challenge pushes us to think about new ways to organize texts. It is not too late.  If you are interested in participating here are the guidelines

  1. Grab a Badge(I like to select the image and save image as…)
  2. Join the #pb10for10 Google Community
  3. Choose Your Favorites: All you need to do is choose ten picture books you cannot live without for whatever reason.  In the first days of this event, everyone shared their ten very favorite titles.  This still works.  You will notice, however, that many past participants choose some type of theme to determine their selections.  We’ll leave this up to you.
  4. Narrow Your List to Ten:It isn’t easy, is it?  We’ve seen some crafty ways to get around that number, but really ten is plenty.
  5. Write Your August 10th Post:Write a post about the ten books you cannot live without.  Share your post on August 10th and link it to the Picture Book 10 for 10 Community.
  6. No Blog?  No Problem:If you don’t have a blog, this might be the perfect time to start one — or there are a million digital ways to join (see post below).  Of course, now with the Google Community it is quite easy to just post your favorites directly into the community without a blog.  We will also be tweeting from the #pb10for10 hashtag.
  7. Comment:  On August 10th (and maybe for a week — there are a lot of posts) take some time to read posts from other participants.  Please comment on at least three.

We are so excited to read all of the other 10 for 10 posts this week – it’s a good thing our public library increased the number of books you can reserve.

Happy Summer Reading!

Tammy and Clare

P.S.  If you would like to see our previous year’s 10 for 10 boards or other collections of text, please check out our Pinterest boards.

  • Lori Sabo
    Posted at 14:45h, 10 August Reply

    Funny books are my favorite! Thanks for sharing.

  • Stacey Shubitz
    Posted at 15:00h, 10 August Reply

    Scaredy Squirrel and the Book with No Pictures are favorites around these parts. Several of the others are new to me. Will have to check them out!

  • Katie Logonauts
    Posted at 15:41h, 10 August Reply

    Yes! Great list and fun choice. Creepy Pair of Underwear and It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk from my list would work well here too. It was great meeting you at Nerd Camp!

  • Laura Purdie Salas
    Posted at 17:49h, 10 August Reply

    Love! How have I not seen Nancy Carlson’s How to Lose All Your Friends? Off to put it on reserve!

  • Linda Baie
    Posted at 00:34h, 11 August Reply

    Terrific list and how to use them (other than giggle together). I loved Interrupting Chicken and Scaredy Squirrel, such good connections with the person you may see in yourself sometimes. Thanks for all, still haven’t seen We Are Growing, but now it’s on my list!

  • Carrie Gelson
    Posted at 16:10h, 11 August Reply

    Loved this list and appreciate your comments and sharing about each book!

  • Tammy Flanders
    Posted at 16:22h, 11 August Reply

    You’ve included many of my go-to funny books. I haven’t read Mo Willems latest but it looks good. Thanks for your recommendations.
    Apples with Many Seeds

  • Catherine
    Posted at 16:59h, 11 August Reply

    What a great theme! I love Interrupting Chicken and We Are Growing! Can’t wait to read the other books you’ve recommended. Thanks for sharing!

  • Cathy
    Posted at 10:32h, 14 August Reply

    I love these titles! I forgot about I, Fly. I really have to get a copy of that book and put it in my collection. Thank you for sharing your collection and joining the conversation.



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