The best books that kids and grown-ups will laugh, gasp, and grin at together

Why am I passionate about this?

Reading with your kid can be a delight, but it’s tough to find a book that both grown-up and child think is hysterical. I mean, I tried reading Catch-22 to my three-year-old, but for some reason the incisive social commentary just didn’t resonate with her. My kids and I both let out genuine chuckles and guffaws while reading all of these books—an experience that I treasured. These books are all giggly, snickery proof that you don’t have to dumb things down to appeal to a wide age range—a goal that I aim for myself in the children’s books and TV shows that I write. 


I wrote...

My Head Has a Bellyache: And More Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups

By Chris Harris, Andrea Tsurumi (illustrator),

Book cover of My Head Has a Bellyache: And More Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups

What is my book about?

This hilarious follow-up to The New York Times bestselling poetry book I'm Just No Good at Rhyming is full of surprising twists of wit and wordplay that will have readers rolling on the floor laughing! 

In My Head Has a Bellyache, bestselling author Chris Harris has another hilarious poetry book full of dazzling new heights of creativity, kooky conundrums, witty wordsmithing, and of course, wacky laugh-out-loud fun! If your head has a bellyache as you read this book, it will only be because you're laughing way. Too. Hard!

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Stinky Cheese Man: And Other Fairly Stupid Tales

Chris Harris Why did I love this book?

This is the book that made my kids’ heads explode (not literally—this book is perfectly safe (as far as I know)) as it helped them discover the idea of parody: taking something familiar and twisting it in a funny, unexpected way.

We rolled and lol’ed together as we read Jon’s wild, hysterical takes on old fairy tales. The non-twist twist ending to his take on the ugly duckling story is still a running joke in our family. Jon’s The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs and The Real Dada Mother Goose are also great for the same reason.

By Jon Scieszka, Lane Smith (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Stinky Cheese Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The entire book, with its unconventional page arrangement and eclectic, frenetic mix of text and pictures, is a spoof on the art of book design and the art of the fairy tale. The individual tales, such as The Really Ugly Duckling and Little Red Running Shorts, can be extracted for telling aloud, with great success. Another masterpiece from the team that created The True Story of the Three Little Pigs!
-Horn Book


Book cover of Arm in Arm: A Collection of Connections, Endless Tales, Reiterations, and Other Echolalia

Chris Harris Why did I love this book?

Oh, wow, this book is like a giant playground for the English language.

Every page is overloaded with jokes that literally go on forever, stories that end up right back where they started, puns and illusions, and poetic pretzel-knots, all illustrated with wild line-drawings and hippie-trippy 1960s colors.

I spent hours getting lost in this book as a child, and my kids loved it just as much as we giggled at the pages together.

By Remy Charlip,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Arm in Arm as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book of the Year.


In Arm in Arm, Remy Charlip, the great children’s book author and illustrator,  is at his most playful, his zaniest, funniest, and cleverest.   He rewrites the rules of riddles, tongue twisters, puns, and performance-based play, or rather, throws all rules out the window.  Some pages require turning the book completely around, 360 degrees. A magnifying glass may also be useful. It is a book for kids of all ages.


Book cover of Mercy Watson to the Rescue

Chris Harris Why did I love this book?

I have vivid memories of my voice getting louder and more hysterical, and my kids literally jumping up and down on their futon bed, laughing and clapping with delight, as I would read through the exciting ending of each of these charming, hilarious adventures about an adorable buttered-toast-loving pig and the group of humorous, sharply-drawn characters around her.

No gimmicks, no space aliens or magic amulets or evil supervillains, just great, well-paced, laugh-out-loud stories in which everyone always gets their perfect comeuppance. In terms of series with great, funny short stories, we also love Ivy and Bean and the Frog and Toad series.

By Kate DiCamillo, Chris Van Dusen (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Mercy Watson to the Rescue as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

The first adventure of this NEW YORK TIMES best-selling porcine wonder is now available as an e-book. (Ages 6 - 8)

To Mr. and Mrs. Watson, Mercy is not just a pig – she's a porcine wonder. And to the portly and good-natured Mercy, the Watsons are an excellent source of buttered toast, not to mention that buttery-toasty feeling she gets when she snuggles into bed with them. This is not, however, so good for the Watsons' bed. BOOM! CRACK! As the bed and its occupants slowly sink through the floor, Mercy escapes in a flash – "to alert the…


Book cover of The Great Escape: Or, the Sewer Story

Chris Harris Why did I love this book?

The silly, rollicking picture-book saga of how all the alligators in the sewers of New York (remember that urban legend?) got tired of their plight and banded together to escape to sunny Florida. It’s as funny as it sounds, and a great child’s introduction to the heist/escape genre of stories.

Best of all, every page is packed with funny bits and pieces of dialogue from alligators, humans, and alligators-pretending-to-be-humans. I never encountered this growing up, but we got a copy as a gift since my son and one of the alligators share a name (why-oh-why did I name my son Tick-Tock? (just kidding—it’s Silas)).

Get all your different voices ready—you’ll need them for reading this one aloud. Roald Dahl’s The Enormous Crocodile is another great crocodilian tale for all ages.

By Peter Lippman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Great Escape as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Giraffes? Giraffes!

Chris Harris Why did I love this book?

This book (along with the entire Haggis-on-Whey series) is one of the most remarkably twisted works of literature I know of.

On first glance, it seems to be a dry, conventional grade-school picture book about, yes, giraffes. And yet, as one reads through its content, at some point one will be struck by the realization: none of this is true!

Did giraffes really first come to Earth on a conveyor belt from Neptune? Are the legs of giraffes actually “filled with various types of fruit juice”? No! As far as I’m aware!

I waited until my kids could read on their own before giving them this book. In each case they spent a while reading through it with confused expressions, unable to reconcile the seemingly authoritative text with plain common sense…until they realized that the entire book is one giant prank and burst out laughing.

After that, we read together, giggling at the ridiculous charts and absurdist notions that fill this wonderful, eye-opening book.

By Doris Haggis-On-Whey, Benny Haggis-on-Whey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Giraffes? Giraffes! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

For many years the scientific and educational communities have wondered and worried about the possibility that semi-sane scholar-pretenders would find the means to publish a series of reference books aimed at children but filled with ludicrous misinformation. These books would be distributed through respectable channels and would inevitably find their ways into the hands and households of well-meaning families, who would go to them for facts but instead find bizarre untruths. The books would look normal enough, but would read as if written by people who have eaten too many lead-based paint chips. Giraffes? Giraffes! is the first in a…


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The Circus Infinite

By Khan Wong,

Book cover of The Circus Infinite

Khan Wong Author Of The Circus Infinite

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Creative expression has been one of my most cherished values since childhood. I've always had a creative hobby of some kind since I was a kid. Not sure how that happened – my parents were tolerant of my interests at best. I made my day job career in the arts, fostering the creativity of community members and supporting the work of artists. Art (in the general sense of all forms of creative expression) is, to me, a defining characteristic of humanity, it makes life worth living, and the way it’s devalued under Capitalism both saddens and inspires me as a creator myself. I’m a writer of speculative fiction and I write about creative people.

Khan's book list on how art is more than art

What is my book about?

Hunted by those who want to study his gravity powers, Jes makes his way to the best place for a mixed-species fugitive to blend in: the pleasure moon where everyone just wants to be lost in the party. It doesn’t take long for him to catch the attention of the crime boss who owns the resort-casino where he lands a circus job, and when the boss gets wind of the bounty on Jes’ head, he makes an offer: do anything and everything asked of him or face vivisection.

With no other options, Jes fulfills the requests: espionage, torture, demolition. But when the boss sets the circus up to take the fall for his about-to-get-busted narcotics operation, Jes and his friends decide to bring the mobster down. And if Jes can also avoid going back to being the prize subject of a scientist who can’t wait to dissect him? Even better.

The Circus Infinite

By Khan Wong,

What is this book about?

Hunted by those who want to study his gravity powers, Jes makes his way to the best place for a mixed-species fugitive to blend in: the pleasure moon where everyone just wants to be lost in the party. It doesn't take long for him to catch the attention of the crime boss who owns the resort-casino where he lands a circus job, and when the boss gets wind of the bounty on Jes' head, he makes an offer: do anything and everything asked of him or face vivisection.

With no other options, Jes fulfills the requests: espionage, torture, demolition. But…


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