Things are going downhill fast around here. I’m just giving you a little warning: I’ll be using some less than savory language. Check your decorum at the door.
The best present I ever bought my son was a fart gun. (I warned you.) He loves it. He loves it so much, in fact, that we’ve bought one for several other friends and cousins for birthdays. It’s always a hit. I mean, it’s definitely always a hit with the kids. I’ve gotten several sideways glances from the grown-ups, but it’s totally worth it for the glee and giggles. Totally.
When you are seven (or seventy) it is so fun to be a little gross – to play in the mud and to say something you shouldn’t say. For some kids, it’s all about the silliness and the irreverence, and if you can make a grown-up squirm – all the more fun!
In School Library
We know that there is a time and a place for teaching respect and boundaries. We know that it is important that kids learn to behave in a socially acceptable way. But, maybe, if we can learn to let our guards down just a bit, we might make ourselves just a little more accessible, a little more approachable – especially for those kids that are harder to reach. And we can be a model for the perfectionists, the kiddos that are so afraid to take a risk, to make a mistake, to be a little silly. We can show them that it’s okay to let down their guards, to laugh at themselves and to let others laugh with them.
I read an article last week “Hook ’em with Humor, Grab ’em with Gross” by librarian Trish Dollyhigh (2012). In the article, Dollyhigh suggests that we use the power of the gross to engage high school students, to get them to sit up and pay attention. (What?!? Read picture books to high schoolers? I’m in!) When I interviewed our school librarian, she discussed a books she read called Poop Detectives to our elementary students. Since, reading this book in her library lessons, it is always checked out. The kids are hooked – and because “poop” was the bait, they are learning about conservation and reading about subjects they may have had no interest in previously.
My son’s favorite books include What Do You Do With a Tail Like This which includes silly pictures and an animal named a blue-footed booby. How can you not cackle at the words blue-footed booby? He also adores The Book with No Pictures which forces adult readers to make fools of themselves by singing silly songs and saying words like “boo boo butt.” I love to let my class “trick” guests into reading this book to them. And, of course, “Tra-la-laaa!” Captain Underpants!
I’ve heard adults question the validity of Captain Underpants and other similarly themed texts – and I get it. There is a world of beautifully written literature to choose from. But, if Captain Underpants is the text that opens the door for my son or my students, then I’m all in. And, well, it’s kinda funny. Don’t believe me? Go ask Alexa to tell you a fart joke. I’ll wait…
When we meet kids where they are, when we show them that we care about what they care about, we show them that books aren’t for other people. We show them reading is fun. It’s exciting. It’s within reach. We show them that literacy is a path to anywhere, even someplace silly.
Dollyhigh, T. (2012). Hook ’em with humor, grab ’em with gross. Library Media Connection, 31(3), 42-43.
Jenkins, S., & Page, R. (2011). What do you do with a tail like this? Carmel, California: National Geographic School Publishing.
Novak, B. J. (2016). The book with no pictures. London: Puffin.
Pilkey, D. (2014). Captain Underpants. London: Scholastic.
Wadsworth, G. (2016). Poop detectives: Working dogs in the field. Watertown, Massachusetts: Charlesbridge.
Images from StockSnap