Literacy Corner: How do Picture Books Make Toddlers Laugh?
[The Guardian UK, via Reading Rockets]
How do we know what makes toddlers laugh? A lot of picture books expect very young children to find things like a big splash, a loud noise or a vivid picture of someone getting hurt funny. Does a child who hasn’t experienced these things in real life find them funny? If so, why is that?
All children are different and toddlers are no exception so there is no single answer to what will make a toddler laugh or why.
You have identified some of things which publishers, drawing on experience of children’s reactions to words and pictures, have used to set precedents for funny books. These include classics such as John Burningham’s Mr Gumpy’s Outing and Quentin Blake’s Mr Magnolia among many others. But But, it is not the detail of the splash/ noise/ funny event that seems to appeal to children; it is the simple pattern of the stories which have at their heart an entertaining and often gentle build-up and then an almighty ‘surprise’. Proven to be successful, they have been imitated time and again with any number of variations in terms of setting, pacing or the way the surprise is delivered.
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