Spotlight on Jon Scieszka: Children’s Book Must-Haves
Think there isn’t a book out there for your reluctant reader? Think again. Jon Scieszka has it covered when it comes to funny books for kids – heck, he can even make math funny! On top of that, Scieszka doesn’t skimp out on the literary genres for small audiences. From metafiction, fractured fairy tales, and just plain laugh out loud stories, he’s knee deep in a mission to get your kids reading.
Founder of the Guys Read program to make “help boys become better readers, better students, and better guys”, Scieszka was named the first U.S. National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress for 2008–2009, accepted the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion for lifetime contribution to children’s literature in 2013 and has seen two of his children’s books rank among the top 100 picture books of all time by School Library Journal.
But none of that matters if his books don’t pass muster! Check out some of our fave Jon Scieszka reads and we’ll bet your kiddos will ask for them again and again:
Think you know the story of the Three Little Pigs? Think again. This book tells the story from the point of view of Alexander T. Wolf –Al, for short—sometimes referred to as the Big Bad Wolf, although he attests that nothing could be further from the truth. You see, he was simply looking to borrow a cup of sugar to make his dear old Granny a birthday cake, when he had to sneeze. Who builds a house out of straw, anyway?
This humorous and witty book will have kids chuckling from the get-go. It may also help them learn about looking at situations from various angles before they decide what actually took place. School Library Journal listed the book in the Top 100 Picture Books of All Time and the National Education Association included it in the Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children.
Henry P. Baloney is an alien child who is late for school –again. Henry provides a long-winded excuse for his teacher in an attempt to avoid Permanent Lifelong Detention. As Henry’s tall tale goes on, readers may decide that Henry is indeed full of baloney.
What makes this story special is that Henry’s vocabulary includes dozens of words with which Earthlings are not familiar like “zimulis” and “razzo”. Luckily, there is a decoder at the back of the book, but trying to guess the meanings of the words based on contextual clues is both fun and educational.
The stories in this book are almost fairy tales, but not quite. In the title story, a little old man and a little old lady were lonely, so the lady made a man out of stinky cheese. He proceeds to run away from them, much like a similar little man made from gingerbread, but unlike the celebrated fairy tale, nobody chases after him. He’s made from stinky cheese, after all.
This spoof and others in the book, including “Chicken Licken” and “Little Red Running Shorts” will elicit giggles every time.
The protagonist of this story is certain his teacher has afflicted him with a math curse. After telling the class that virtually anything could be viewed as a math problem, he begins to do just that. He cannot look at shirts, cereal, or even other kids on his school bus without creating a multitude of math problems. He does discover a way to free himself from the curse, but then his science teacher makes an announcement to the class… that may just have him regretting what he wished for.
Kids can discover that math is indeed everywhere and can actually be rather fun. This book has received several awards and accolades, from ALA Best Books for Young Adults to School Library Journal Best Books of 1995, and more.
A satirical take on Aesop’s Fables, this book begins by explaining that fables have historically been stories about real people told using animals in their places. It goes on to tell silly stories about slugs, walruses, and anteaters with morals such as, “Everyone knows that frogs can’t skateboard, but it’s kind of sad that they believe everything they see on TV” and “He who smelt it, dealt it.” Seriously.
This book can be a terrific addition to a fables lesson plan or simply entertaining bedtime reading for kids who love all things silly.
Jon Scieszka has written books for kids of all ages, from the Trucktown series for preschool and kindergarten kids to Who Done It? for teens. Bonus: parents and teachers will likely find them entertaining and amusing, as well.
What are some of your favorite books by Jon Scieszka? Share more of the authors/illustrators you love in the comments!
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