Making Great Books Funny
Isn’t it great when the whole class cracks up, and you know you’ve made your point in a funny, memorable way? For one thing, we all need more laughter in our lives; for another, those points are more likely to be remembered.
We can’t always be hilarious, but it’s satisfying when we do tap everyone’s funnybone! Here are some ways we’ve made kids laugh (and learn) about literature.
We have them take on strange, inhuman roles. They roar, shake, steam, and (gently) collide in geological teams as The Big Wave, the earth, and the volcano. They pretend they’re The Hobbit, who must reach into Gollum’s pocket and decipher its icky contents by touch, to learn what has made him what he has become. They communicate silently like Black Beauty and build nests on The Wheel on the School like a Netherlands stork. They take turns being Toad in a relay, whining “Save me!” over the sounds of “poop poop!” and the roar of The Wind in the Willows.
We have them design their own versions of exotic costumes. They create “hypocrite” masks to serve dual roles in The Tempest. They compete to design the loveliest cormorant skirt on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. They outfit A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by wrapping someone in medieval foil—er, armor. They dress Mrs. Whatsit, whose strange style has come from within A Wrinkle in Time.
We have them perform highly undesirable tasks. They write British-proper “thank you” notes from A Little Princess to the awful Miss Minchin. They smell stinky stuff, like the liniment that Anne of Green Gables should have recognized. They plunge their hands into ice-cold water at “midnight” to care for All Creatures Great and Small. They pitch grant proposals From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler to a cranky version of that wealthy benefactor. To “stand up” like Johnny Tremain, they use silly ruses to get past highly skeptical Redcoats. They’re fed in the darkness by an alien residing within A Wrinkle in Time.
And all of that is done happily, to shrieks of laughter, in memorable, happy, highly teachable moments.
We hope that was helpful! We’d love to hear your thoughts in the Comments. And if you’d like to get specifics about all this fun, check out our LitWits Kits!
Becky & Jenny