To kick off the New Year I invited picture book author and puzzle mistress Doris Fisher to write a guest post, and she has chosen to talk about humor - which we all know is the best way to engage readers, especially beginning readers - most especially when those books attempt to teach concepts, which as you can see is Doris's special gift.
I love humor in picture books for beginning readers. Learning to read is hard work. There are twenty-six letters in the alphabet to recognize. And each one makes a different sound when pronounced. On top of that there are five vowels that each has a long and short sound.
Now throw in punctuation marks to know…periods, commas, colons, apostrophes, question marks and exclamation marks! Not to mention the dreaded semi-colon that stops readers in their tracks, scratching their heads. What the heck does that dot and comma mean? Really, it should be outlawed. Just create two sentences.
Humor encourages the new reader and promises a few laughs along the way. Like Mary Poppins sang, “Just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.” If I can amuse a child and sneak in a bit of information in the text, I think my writing is worthwhile. In Happy Birthday to Whooo??? the animal birth announcements I created relay all kinds of details about baby animals, each written with a touch of wordplay to attract the reader.
Likewise I call my other three picture books, math with a laugh. One Odd Day, My Even Day, and My Half Day all introduce number concepts, but in a way that engrosses the reader. Along with great illustrations by Karen Lee, these books contain a “seek and find” element for the number concept detailed in each book.
A puzzle creator to the max, my word puzzles, mazes and codes also contain humor, tongue-in cheek references and funny clip art to decorate the pages. I was fortunate enough to speak about creating work for magazines at the Brazos Valley SCBWI Conference in November. I had a great time remembering all my magazine articles and puzzles to include in a power point presentation.
My website has puzzles on it to print and solve. And I always have a monthly book giveaway on my website. So click on over, enter and become a winner of one of my books in paperback. And remember, laughter is the best medicine, so they say.