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Adventures in early literacy

You Must Be Joking! Literacy through Laughter

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A couple weeks ago I talked about my idea for getting kids into the library by asking them to visit and tell me a joke in exchange for a sticker. I honestly had no idea how well it would work out, but so many have been taking me up on the offer.

More than once this has been the exchange:

Kid: There she is!!

Adult: The library lady you were talking about?

Kid: Yeah, we have to go sign up!

Adult: Ok, but what is it?

Me: I’ll tell you all about it.

Kid: WAIT! I have a joke for you!!

Me: Ok, I’m ready!

Adult: Oh my gosh, this is why he’s been practicing jokes all day.

Me: Yay! I’m so glad you remembered to come tell me a joke!

Kid: *tells amazing joke and gets sticker*

So, not only has this proven to be effective in getting kids in the library, talking about the library with their caregivers, and creating a relationship between me and the joke teller, but it also helps with literacy development. Now, I haven’t found any research on jokes specifically but I put them in the narrative skills category. In order to tell a joke you have to understand humor and dialogue and story. A joke has a beginning (the joke), a middle (a I don’t know, what?) and an end (the punchline). If you do not understand the basic structure of a story, you will have a hard time telling a joke. A joke should be humorous (ok, that’s generous, but they should at least warrant an eye roll) and humor is not something everyone is born understanding. To realize a joke is funny you have to understand puns, know a little something about the joke’s subject matter, or be able to understand the riddle if it’s that kind of joke. All of this means you have to have, at least, a basic grasp of whatever language you are joking in. THIS is why I encourage kids to tell jokes. It helps them build their language skills and THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW IT. Obviously, lots of kids just memorize them without truly understanding them which is why I like telling them jokes, as well. That way we can talk about it to make sure they get it and aren’t just laughing to be polite. Doing that is almost as fun as hearing their jokes in the first place.

This is usually me:

A lot of times these exchanges happen in the stacks and I forget to write down the jokes, but I’ve included the ones I did get written down here. You will recognize many of them. Just remember, it’s the first time they’ve ever heard the joke. Some just don’t even make sense. Even when I asked for them to explain they still didn’t make sense. Making things up, FTW!

What do you call a funny owl? A hoot

What do you eat while watching a scary movie? Ice cream

What has a bottom at the top? A leg (Took me almost a day to realize she said LEG not LAKE-boy was I confused.)

What is the tallest building in the city? The library. It has the most stories.

Knock Knock. Who’s there? Orange. Orange who? Orange you glad I didn’t say banana? (mind you, this was the only joke he told so he had not already told the banana one)

Why was six afraid of seven? Because seven ate nine ten. (from a young man age 6)

Knock knock. Who’s there? Interrupting cow. Interrupting cow… MOOOO! (I swear if another kids tell me this one…)

Why did the chicken cross the road?  To get to the nail salon. (I don’t know. She said cuz they have nails. Which is true. Kind of.)

Knock Knock. Who’s there? Cash. Cash who? I prefer peanuts, thanks.

Why did the turkey cross the road? To prove he wasn’t chicken. (Heard this one twice.)

Why did the fish blush? Because it saw the boat’s butt.

Why did the skeleton cross the road? To get to the body shop. (I legit LOL’d on this one)

Why did the turkey cross the road? The chicken was out of town

What time does a duck wake up? At the quack of dawn!

What is brown and sticky? A stick (heard this one 3 times!)

What did the nut say when he finished his prayers? Almond

What did the umpire say to the batter? You have foul breathe

Author: Kendra

Children's Librarian in the Northwest. Lover of toddlers, twitter, and TV (T's, too, apparently!).

One thought on “You Must Be Joking! Literacy through Laughter

  1. We’ve been wanting to do this at our library! So glad to hear about your experience 🙂

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