Just Imagine


Tickle Your Funny Bone

The books in this theme will entice children with irresistible humour – they will encounter fabulously funny characters, unfortunate incidents and witty wordplay that will make them laugh out loud! In addition, the books will challenge and extend children’s thinking about the different ways in which a book can be funny. For example:

  • Engaging with humour in a parody in Nuts in Space by Elys Dolan
  • Feeling ‘one-up’ on a royal character in The Cat and the King by Nick Sharratt
  • Exploring how poetry can get you giggling with I Don’t Like Poetry by Joshua Seigal

Book introductions

Introduce a large version of a ‘Bubble Thinking Map’ (David Hyerle, 2008) with ‘books that make us laugh’ or ‘funny books’ written in the middle, to explore children’s current thoughts and ideas.

  • What do the children think makes a book ‘funny’?
  • What books have they read that have made the laugh and what was it about them that made them laugh?
  • Record the children’s ideas in the outer circles, leaving room for additional bubbles to be added during and after reading.
  • Have this displayed throughout the theme.


Introduce the ‘Laugh Out Loud Awards’ (the ‘Lollies’!), which celebrate the very funniest books in children’s fiction.

  • Ask the children to reflect on the funniest books they have ever read.
  • If they had to choose one book to nominate for the Lollies, which would it be and why?

Create a ‘laughometer’ to display, showing a scale of 0 to 10.

  • Invite the children to stick up covers of books that they have recently read, according to how much they made them laugh, along with a Post-It note explaining their opinion.
  • What is it about certain books that makes them laugh more than others?
  • Have any books been stuck up by more than one child?
  • Have they given them the same ‘laughter rating’? Why or why not?

Book talk

‘Books have to be funny for reading to be fun.’

  • To what extent do the children agree with this statement?
  • Do books have to make the reader laugh to be enjoyable?
  • Is it possible to enjoy a book that makes you feel sad?


  • ‘Tickle Your Funny Bone with …’ – ask the children to reflect on books they are reading that are making them laugh.
    • Have they, or any of their peers, read any other books by the same author?
    • Do books written by this author have a ‘trademark humour’ or does this author write a range of different themes?


  • What would happen if a king had to do the washing up or open a biscuit tin for the first time? Some of the funniest fictional moments arise when a character is thrown into a situation that is somehow unfamiliar to them or unusual!


  • Which characters have the children encountered on their reading journeys that have made them laugh when they’ve ended up in a right royal muddle?!
  • Ask the children their favourite poems they have read that have made them laugh and find out whether films or recordings of these poems being performed are available online, through the Children’s Poetry Archive (http://www.childrenspoetryarchive.org), for example:
    • Discuss how the poets entertain and make their audience laugh as they read their poems aloud and give children the opportunity to rehearse and perform poems that have made them laugh to the class, either individually or as a group.
    • You could even have a vote for the very funniest poem to rehearse and perform chorally as a class!


  • Poet and performer Joshua Siegal, writer of I Don’t Like Poetry, says, ‘I listen very carefully to the things people around me say’.
    • What might Joshua mean by this?
    • How might listening very carefully to the things people around him say inspire Joshua’s poetry?
    • Whether they’re at home, at school, in the park, at the zoo, encourage the children to listen out for things that people around them say that could inspire a funny story or poem.

The Reading Journey: Tickle Your Funny Bone (24 books)

The Reading Journey is Just Imagine's programme for supporting independent reading, to develop wider reading and make more productive use of book corners.  The Reading Journey is designed specifically to keep class book... Read more

Display ideas

Display Books and Recommendations

Display of the books for the ‘Tickle Your Funny Bone’ theme. Introduce the books, invite the children to explore them and encouraged them to reflect to make recommendations. Post-It notes can be stuck on the front covers to explain their recommendations, Invite the children to add their names to the recommendations to encourage other children...


Make a laughometer. Use it to record the children’s responses to the books. Ask them to rate the books on a scale from 0 – 10 with 10 being the highest laugh factor. Use Post-its for them to justify their ratings. Use the laughometer as a stimulus for discussing which books make us laugh and...

Bubble Maps

Use a ‘Bubble Thinking Map’ (David Hyerle, 2008), to explore children’s initial ideas about what makes a book funny. Once the theme had been launched, further bubbles can be added using  different colours to show how children’s thinking is developed and refined through reading, sharing and discussion.


Claire Williams is the Year 4 teacher and Reading Lead at a primary school in Essex. She has recently completed an MEd in Children’s Literature at the University of Cambridge.