Monday, August 29, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: What's So Funny?

What's So Funny? Making Sense of Humor
by Donna M. Jackson, illustrated by Ted Stearn
Viking, 2011
Grades 3-6
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Everyone loves to laugh, and to hear and see funny things-but what makes something funny in the first place? What is humor? This book explains why our brains think something is funny, what happens to us physically when we laugh, why you can tickle your friend but not yourself, and so much more. Plenty of jokes and silly anecdotes are included, and hilarious line drawings appear on almost every page. (
I found this book rather fascinating.  I had no idea that people actually studied humor.  It makes sense though, since laughter is such a big part of human existence.  The author starts off by defining humor and explaining that, "Humor is highly personal."  Which is very true.  This made me think about the times when I've been reading to my students and they laugh at something that I don't see as funny, or I am trying to avoid bursting out into loud laughter and the kids are straight-faced.

 Despite the fact that there is no one way to define what is funny, there are several theories that attempt to explain this phenomenon.  First, the superiority theory, jokes that target stupidity and klutziness.  When I read this I immediately thought, blond jokes, lawyer jokes,etc. There are many types of jokes that fit into this category. The second theory that Jackson presents is the relief theory. The idea being that we can address topics that scare us or stress us out through humor. The third theory is the incongruity theory, when one thing is expected but something else happens and surprises us.

The book easy to read and to follow organization wise.  The author has clearly kept her audience in mind.  The inclusion of jokes throughout is a nice touch.  Jackson covers a lot of related topics, theories, anatomy (the physical act of laughing), animal laughter, and even how to tell a joke well.  I plan to use this book with my older students as a precursor to storytelling.  It would also combine beautifully with any joke book. Recommended.

Nonfiction Monday is hosted by Capstone Connect today. It's a fun way to learn about other great nonfiction books for kids.

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting topic! I need to find this book. Everyone can make a connection with this text.


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