The best children's books for laughing while learning

Who am I?

I used to be a freelance writer for magazines, but my secret passion was kids’ lit. When I decided to become a children’s author, I wanted to write nonfiction that was fun to read, not the dull, boring books I remembered from my childhood. When I discovered the first three books on my list, I was inspired to free up my funny bone and write to delight. The second two books also showcase innovative formats and humorous writing styles. Reading nonfiction doesn’t have to be a chore. These books will have children laughing while they learn. 


I wrote...

Book cover of There's No Ham in Hamburgers: Facts and Folklore about Our Favorite Foods

What is my book about?

Why is there no ham in hamburgers? How did we make ice cream before we could make ice? How did hot dogs get their name? From the origins of pizza to the invention of chicken fingers, this book has all the ingredients for an entertaining read about the history and science behind our favorite foods. Packed with informative sidebars, recipes, and experiments, along with fabulously funny illustrations by Peter Donnelly, this book is a reading recipe kids will love.

The books I picked & why

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King George: What Was His Problem?

By Steve Sheinkin, Tim Robinson (illustrator),

Book cover of King George: What Was His Problem?

Why this book?

Steve Sheinkin has added all the juicy details that textbooks normally leave out. We learn that Sam Adams was a slob, John Adams was a bore, and Benjamin Franklin liked to party with the French. How this bunch of disgruntled Americans was able to pull off one of the greatest revolutions the world has ever seen is almost a miracle. Middle school kids will love the snarky tone that makes this nonfiction book as much fun as a reality tv show. 

King George: What Was His Problem?

By Steve Sheinkin, Tim Robinson (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked King George as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times bestselling author and Newbery Honor recipient Steve Sheinkin gives young readers an American history lesson they'll never forget in the fun and funny King George: What Was His Problem?: Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn't Tell You About the American Revolution, featuring illustrations by Tim Robinson.

A Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year
A New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing

What do the most famous traitor in history, hundreds of naked soldiers, and a salmon lunch have in common? They’re all part of the amazing story of the American Revolution.

Entire books have…


How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous

By Georgia Bragg, Kevin O'Malley (illustrator),

Book cover of How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous

Why this book?

In my opinion, this book has one of the best titles ever! I’ve always been fascinated by old-timey bad medicine, and I wasn’t disappointed. Poor George Washington died of a sore throat, but alas, no antibiotics back then. The leading doctors in the country took turns treating America’s first president. They tried bloodletting twice, blistering (being bitten by poisonous beetles), and gave him toxic potions that made him throw up. After all of that, he was begging to die, and he did. This book is brilliantly gross and disgusting, while still being delightfully humorous and informative. Highly recommended for ages ten and up.

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous

By Georgia Bragg, Kevin O'Malley (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How They Croaked as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This award-winning book for reluctant readers is a fascinating collection of remarkable deaths--and not for the faint of heart. Over the course of history, men and women have lived and died. In fact, getting sick and dying can be a big, ugly mess--especially before the modern medical care that we all enjoy today. From King Tut's ancient autopsy to Albert Einstein's great brain escape, How They Croaked contains all the gory details of the awful ends of nineteen awfully famous people. Don't miss the companion, How They Choked!


Poop Happened! A History of the World from the Bottom Up

By Sarah Albee, Robert Leighton (illustrator),

Book cover of Poop Happened! A History of the World from the Bottom Up

Why this book?

Another great title that drew me in right away. Sarah Albee has packed so much into this book! It’s not just about the evolution of sanitation. It’s also about engineering, diseases, ancient civilizations, and it includes vital information such as how women went to the bathroom wearing hoop skirts. We get the dirt on some truly disgusting jobs such as a delouser, a gongfermor, and a mudlark. I really enjoyed all the sidebars, cartoons, and illustrations, and I think reluctant readers will also. As it says on the cover, this is “The number one book about number two.” A sure-fire hit with tweens.

Poop Happened! A History of the World from the Bottom Up

By Sarah Albee, Robert Leighton (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Poop Happened! A History of the World from the Bottom Up as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Did lead pipes
cause the fall of the Roman Empire?
How many toilets were in the
average Egyptian pyramid?

How did a knight wearing fifty
pounds of armor go to the bathroom?
Was poor hygiene the last straw
before the French Revolution?
Did Thomas Crapper really invent
the modern toilet?
How do astronauts go
in space?
History finally comes out of the water-closet in
this exploration of how people's need to relieve themselves shaped human
development from ancient times to the present. Throughout time, the most
successful civilizations were the ones who realized that everyone poops, and they
had better…


What If You Had Animal Feet?

By Sandra Markle, Howard McWilliam (illustrator),

Book cover of What If You Had Animal Feet?

Why this book?

Readers learn about how animals’ feet help them adapt to their environment. For example, the Green Basilisk Lizard has long, fringed toes that allow it to run across the surface of water. I love the innovative format of this book. Each spread has one page of informational text with actual photos next to a corresponding page with imaginative illustrations of children with that particular animal’s foot. This series includes feet, hair, eyes, ears, teeth, tail, and nose and is perfect for elementary school students.

What If You Had Animal Feet?

By Sandra Markle, Howard McWilliam (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What If You Had Animal Feet? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If you could have any animal's feet, whose would you choose?

WHAT IF YOU HAD ANIMAL FEET? is the next book in the successful WHAT IF series by Sandra Markle, illustrated by Howard McWilliam, following the very popular WHAT IF YOU HAD ANIMAL TEETH? and WHAT YOU IF HAD ANIMAL HAIR? This latest edition will teach kids about the amazing variety of feet in the animal kingdom and their specialty functions! From cheetahs' fast feet to mountain goats' nimble climbing hooves, to flies' sticky feet! Each animal profile will include a photo as well as illustrations of kids with animal…


Battle of the Butts: The Science Behind Animal Behinds

By Jocelyn Rish, David Creighton-Pester (illustrator),

Book cover of Battle of the Butts: The Science Behind Animal Behinds

Why this book?

Written in a kid-friendly, conversational style, this book is full of scientific information about how animals’ bottoms are perfectly adapted to their environment. It also has surprising facts that kids won’t forget. Did you know that a wombat’s poop is cube-shaped? As Rish puts it, “They produce 80 to 100 caca cubes per night…” At the end of the book, readers are asked to vote for their choice of the best animal butt. This super-fun nonfiction that will keep elementary students reading past their bedtime. 

Battle of the Butts: The Science Behind Animal Behinds

By Jocelyn Rish, David Creighton-Pester (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Battle of the Butts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Butts are funny, but they're also useful! Humans use their butts for two primary functions--sitting and pooping. It's the same for most other animals. However, some species have adapted to use their backsides in several surprising ways. Did you know manatees swim using farts? Or that herrings communicate by passing gas? There are animals that use their butts to protect themselves; others build things with their butts; and some breathe through their butts! Focusing on ten different animals and their derrieres, and offering fun facts about their origin, habitat, and "posterior power," this hilarious book captures the wonder of our…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the American Revolution, celebrities, and World War 2?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the American Revolution, celebrities, and World War 2.

The American Revolution Explore 111 books about the American Revolution
Celebrities Explore 25 books about celebrities
World War 2 Explore 1143 books about World War 2

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like With Zeal and with Bayonets Only, The Men Who Lost America, and Resisting Independence if you like this list.