On the first day of school, I read Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and I make sure to totally freak out on the page when the pigeon yells, “LET-ME-DRIVE-THE-BUS!” I stomp my feet and shake my head and use a loud voice and the kids think it’s hilarious. And then — I’ve got ’em in the palm of my hand. On the second day of school, when we read The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog, they are practically shaking with anticipation. If they didn’t before, now they LOVE books.
Plus, I get to introduce them to the idea of an author, and within a few weeks, we’ve read the complete oeuvre of Mo Willems, they can spot a Mo Willems book at 20 paces, we’ve got our first genre box on the shelf with all of our Willems books, and every day at reading time the kids pour over the books and “read” them to themselves.
So yes, I like funny books.
I generally like funny ones with slightly twisted humor, or that are a little bit “meta.”
Do Not Open This Book is a great example of this. The first time I read it, the kids are in rapture. The pig keeps telling me not to turn the pages (because he’s not done writing the book), and I ask the kids, “should I turn the page?” and they always say “YES!” Then when I turn the page the pig gets really mad at me for not listening to him and for being so rude as to interrupt him while he is trying to finish the book (because the words fly around and get in the wrong order and suddenly there is a big mouse with fierce pink teeth menacing him).
It gets pretty meta because I am doing the pig’s voice, but also being myself, the target of the pig’s anger. The best part is the fill in the blank rant that he does near the end of the book, where I put my name in for all the blanks, and he’s hysterically mad at me, Mrs. X, the kids’ teacher. They love that part. It’s so surprising and funny to them to think of their teacher doing something “wrong” and getting in trouble.
Anyway, awesome crazy books are one way that I help my preschoolers fall madly in love with reading.