Summer is here (though you wouldn’t know it from the Junuary days we’ve been having recently) and for many librarians that means only one thing – Summer Reading Club! My days have been filled with promotional visits to local schools, where I hype up the program as much as humanly possible, and try to get kids excited about reading on their summer vacation (challenge accepted).
My secrets weapons in helping kids get excited about joining the Summer Reading Club are funny books – I always bring one or two humorous titles with me to share at each school visit, which I hope will help remind kids that reading over the summer is supposed to be about having fun. This isn’t a school program, so there’s no suggested reading list – kids can read whatever the heck they like, and for lots of kids, that means reading something silly.
One book that I’ve been having great success with recently is Oi, Frog! by Kes Gray and Jim Field.
A very bossy cat (of course) lays out which object each animal is supposed to sit on – frogs sit on logs, cats sit on mats, weasels sit on easels, etc. The story gets more and more ridiculous with each page – lions sit on irons, lizards sit on wizards, apes sit on grapes and more.
Kids find the whole things hilarious, and it’s fascinating to observe how long it takes different groups to catch on to the fact that this is a rhyming book – I love it when the eyes go wide and kids shout out “hey, it rhymes!”
There’s a delightful twist ending that will have kids in stitches, and the illustrations suit the text pretty much perfectly. The word bottom is also mentioned, which is an added bonus when reading with a group of school kids – laughter is pretty much guaranteed.
Books like Oi, Frog! are so important because they help kids associate reading with positive emotions, and build positive memories. How many of us can name a couple of books that were absolutely ruined for us because we had to read them in school? English or Language Arts classes can unfortunately suck the joy right out of reading, leaving a negative impression on kids that can last a life time. By reminding them just how much fun reading can be, silly, humorous books like Oi, Frog! can help rekindle a child’s love of reading, and keep it glowing throughout life’s ups and downs.
Do you have any favourite lighthearted or funny books for kids? I’d love to hear about them – I’m always looking for new titles to share and enjoy!
NOTE – HOLD THE PRESSES! As a colleague just pointed out to me, if you’re American, Oi, Frog! might look a little different at your local bookshop or library. Apparently publishers aren’t sure you guys can handle British slang and think you might be confused by the expression “Oi” (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone anyone?).