Silly Billy Picture Books

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Silly Billy Picture Books

Get Your giggles on

While there are lots of picture books - both fiction and nonfiction - that teach children the ABCs, 123s, or valuable life lessons, here are some picture books that do nothing of the sort. They're just silly books that will make you and your little ones laugh so hard, your ribs will hurt. Many of them are genuinely clever, and others are just goofy. 

I've organized these books by age-appropriateness, from youngest to oldest, but adults will get a kick out of them too. If these don't make you laugh, you've clearly had your funny bone removed.

Get ready to giggle!

Can You Make a Scary Face? and anything else by Jan Thomas
Pretty much anything Jan Thomas writes is a hit with all ages, for two different reasons: the youngest toddlers will be drawn to the bright, colorful pictures, and the preschoolers will find the words and silly premises of the books funny. A few of the books, particularly Can You Make a Scary Face? are interactive, so be ready for some standing up, sitting down, singing along, counting, and even a little bit of chicken dancing. Get your flappin' wings ready.

Who Wants a Cheap Rhinoceros? by Shel Silverstein  
Written and illustrated in Silverstein's immediately recognizable style, this classic from 1964 tickles all ages, but has worked best with my preschool story-timers. The pictures are, of course, the best part. Watch out, parents - kids will be clamoring for their own rhinoceros before long. (There is one picture of a phonograph, so be prepared to explain exactly what it is and how it played music before iPhones came along.)

Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett
About halfway through the book, you realize you're not going to get to the monkeys you're supposed to count. But it doesn't matter, because you're having too much fun. The text and detailed pictures encourage adults and children to help move unwelcome visitors like lumberjacks and mongooses (mongeese?) along. I won't lie; I've done this book a few times in story time when I've had trouble reading because I'm laughing so hard, and then the kids laugh at me. It's a vicious cycle. We'll see more from Barnett soon.

Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka
Poor Alex. He's been given a book about a birthday bunny, which is totally boring. So he takes his pencil and turns it into Battle Bunny, thanks to some sneakily-placed drawings and changes to the text. This Easy Reader-level book is great either for beginning readers or reading aloud with an adult. Only Jon Scieszka could come up with this clever concept, and it's the only time when I'd actually encourage the defacing of a book.

Apples & Oranges: Going Bananas With Pairs by Sara Pinto
This book works best with older preschoolers and kindergarteners, but is also good for reading with kids. When Pinto asks what two items have in common, you can brainstorm with the kids (apples and oranges are both fruit, are both round, etc.) before turning the page and finding out what the wily Pinto was thinking all along, and I promise you it's much more off-the-wall than what you were thinking. As with the other books, the pictures bring a lot of the goofy.

The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak
The title doesn't lie - there really are no pictures in this book, just goofy words and the premise that the reader has to say them all. Unlike the rest of the books on this list, there are no pictures to rely on for laughs, but Novak gets the laughs anyway. (Can't remember where you've heard Novak's name before? He's the writer and star of NBC's The Office and author of the critically-acclaimed short story collection One More Thing.) Any age will get a laugh out of this one, especially older elementary-age kids who think the words "boo boo butt" are the funniest they've ever heard.

Guess Again! by Mac Barnett
Barnett reappears on this list with a more vocabulary-rich book for kindergarteners or even first-graders. Each page offers a short poem with the last word missing ... and that last word just happens to be the answer to the riddle the rest of the poem presents. You think you know the answer, but of course Barnett has other ideas. (My favorite kindergarten storytime consisted of Guess Again! and Apples and Oranges, and both books had the kids using their heads, but laughing like crazy.) Do you like Vikings? I hope you like Vikings.