17 of our Favorite Silly Children’s Picture Books

Silly is one of our family’s favorite things. Boy Detective loves to laugh, and it doesn’t take much to get him giggling. I’m more of a hard sell. To make me laugh, you have to bring funny AND clever. The following books were perfect for both of us, and many got at least a chuckle from C-Man as well. (Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links.)

My picture book posts were published and then occasionally expanded between 2012-2015, with reviews based on reading with my kiddo between preschool age and about eight years old. As of 2023-24, I’m freshening up my lists and adding more recs.

The Giant Jam Sandwich (1972) by John Vernon Lord (story and illustrations) and Janet Burroway (verses)

The town of Itching Down has a problem. It’s been invaded by wasps. After a community meeting, it’s decided the ONLY logical way to handle this is to make a giant jam sandwich to trap the wasps. Strangely, I have not tried this at our house (though wasps love to build nests on our front porch), but the book is extremely funny, especially the various characters and the creative problem-solving the town has to use to make their project a reality. Fans of British humor should pick this one up.

999 Tadpoles (2003) by Ken Kimura, illustrated by Yasunari Murakami

When 999 tadpoles become little frogs and outgrow their pond, it’s time for Mom and Dad frog to find them somewhere new to live. Unfortunately the babies are excited but very new to the world and its dangers. A long line of hopping frogs is also a tempting target for predators. When Dad frog gets grabbed by a hawk, the silliness escalates and I was laughing almost as much as Boy Detective.

Squids Will Be Squids (2003) by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith

This somehow never made it onto my blog back in the day, but I held it up for my now-teenage son recently and his face lit up with a big grin. So I’m adding it in now!

“Sure we’d all love to be able to go around telling stories about all the weird, scary, and just-plain-annoying people that we know. But the truth is, no one likes a gossip. Here, the irrepressible Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith have found a way around that problem-they just make like Aesop and change all the people to animals or food, add a moral to each story, and call the stories fables!

With tales like ‘Little Walrus,’ in which too much of the truth is a dangerous thing, the cautionary ‘Slug’s Big Moment,’ wherein Slug is so caught up in herself that she doesn’t see the steamroller behind her, and ‘Straw and Matches,’ which illustrates quite clearly why you should never play with matches (because they cheat), the eighteen fables in this uproarious collection are sure to delight readers both young and old.”

Catch That Goat (2007) by Polly Alakija

This one doesn’t have a complex story, but I was so entertained by what this goat got up to on its romp through the marketplace. And Boy Detective’s laugh at the end was a nice payoff! It’s a bright and cheerful book that also shows a glimpse of modern life in another country.

Firefighter Ted (2009) by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre

Absurdity at its best in children’s literature. Ted can’t find a firefighter, so he becomes one, with disastrous results that don’t seem to faze Ted in the least. Pants on fire? Call the janitor! Call the librarian! Call somebody! Or just wait for Ted to save the day… kinda.

(There are other Ted books, but in my opinion, the others are much more random with Ted’s behavior and thus not as funny. In Artist Ted he actually torments a new kid at school throughout most of the book, and Ted never apologizes or seems to realize he’s done anything wrong.)

Chicken Big (2010) by Keith Graves

When you’re born a little different, sometimes it’s tough to figure out your place in the world. Especially when the other members of your community don’t seem to be the sharpest pencils in the drawer. But family is family, so you just have to do your best and eventually things will work out! This was one of those books where days later the kiddo would say “Hey, do you remember when that one chicken said…” and then not be able to finish the sentence because he was cracking up.

Pigs to the Rescue (2010) by John Himmelman

We may have forgotten to use our library voices, for a minute, when we were reading this in the library. There are multiple “To The Rescue” books and we enjoy them all, but this one is the most absurd, where the pigs just surprise the heck out of you with their stunts. Highly recommended when you need a laugh. Or several.

A Pig Parade Is a Terrible Idea (2010) by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

I’m so grateful to Black for writing this book! Without its urgent warning message, who knows how many town celebrations could be ruined?! His timely, careful analysis of all the ways pigs are unsuited for parades is insightful and…um, okay, I can’t keep this up. The book is just funny, y’all. There are pigs in marching band uniforms. Totally recommended for the kid who likes to giggle (and any nearby adults).

The Boy Who Cried Ninja (2011) by Alex Latimer

If you’re getting in trouble whether you tell the truth or lie, and you didn’t do anything wrong, it’s time for some serious creativity. Especially when ninjas, pirates, space monkeys, and other implausible but totally real characters are involved. Latimer’s quirky art, eye for details, and restrained narration blend really well here. If you’ve ever gotten in trouble for something you didn’t do, you’ll empathize with Tim’s distress and celebrate when he finds a way to clear his name.

Stuck (2011) by Oliver Jeffers

This is beyond absurd and completely hilarious. Clearly if your kite gets stuck in a tree, the way to get it down is by throwing your shoe up there. And then your other shoe. But then what? The laws of physics are no match for this child’s determination to retrieve the kite!

Nothing Like a Puffin (2011) by Sue Soltis, illustrated by Bob Kolar

You have to read this with enthusiasm, or not at all. Delightfully absurd exploration of how many things are nothing at all like a puffin… maybe. Or maybe you just need to think outside the box? I enjoyed this one even more than the kiddo did.

How To Get a Job… by Me, The Boss (2011) by Sally Lloyd-Jones and Sue Heap

I can’t get enough of these “How To” books by Lloyd-Jones and Heap. I laugh so much. My six year old has not, to the best of my knowledge, ever had a job or job-hunted, but he kept going “hey!” and “no!” and laughing every time the narrator would make some new wild claim about how to get a job. I have to admit, I rushed him a little bit on exploring all the details on each page because I wanted to see what she was going to say next. Total crack-up.

Secret Pizza Party (2013) by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

When you’re a raccoon who loves pizza, the whole world is against you, and they have brooms. Desperate times call for desperate measures! But maybe you shouldn’t get ON the buffet table…? Just a thought. This is completely ridiculous but Rubin and Salmieri have you rooting for the raccoon at every turn.

Ding Dong! Gorilla! (2013) by Michelle Robinson, illustrated by Leonie Lord

Mom’s getting ready upstairs. You’re alone. What could go wrong? Well, a lot of things, if you open the door thinking it’s the pizza being delivered and it’s actually a gorilla. At least, that’s the narrator’s story and he’s sticking to it. I have never read a more entertaining explanation of why the house is such a mess. Lord’s illustrations have SO much character and the style she used here is perfect for a child narrator’s recounting such a bizarre series of events.

And here are the books I’ve read on my own since my kiddo got too old for them; they’re all fantastic! I haven’t had a chance to write reviews or pull the covers yet, but click on through and see if one of them might be perfect for you.

And that’s the list!