I had already been thinking of making another big list of kids books (in celebration of my friends everywhere having babies!), so here is a list of books that make kids laugh. Their parents, too.
Let's start with Mo Willems. This man used to write for Sesame Street back when the show was really good, and is now famous for his hilarious kids books. I particularly like the Elephant and Piggie books (you'll find them in the Early Readers section), Knuffle Bunny, Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs, Leonardo the Terrible Monster, and Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed. The humor of his books typically comes from his understanding of the extremes of human emotion in all its quirks and absurdities. The illustrations are also rock solid, and even the early reader structure of the Elephant and Piggie books (simple words, limited vocabulary, extensive repetition) is used for comic effect, as the two characters get more and more anxious or excited or sad. We Are in A Book even has a little inside joke for the readers going through for second time in a row.
Some authors that made me laugh as a kid were Steven Kellogg and James Marshall and Shel Silverstein. What I loved best about Steven Kellogg were the tiny details in his wild illustrations. Not only would the pictures be giant mishmashes of unexpected action, but you could see the tiny writing on the advertisements on the walls in the background. My favorite stories of his are Ralph's Secret Weapon (where a kid with a bassoon and a cake defeats a sea monster), The Three Pigs, and Pinkerton, Behave!
While Kellogg's illustrations are notable for how much he includes, James Marshall's craft shines in how little he needs to put on the page (in words or pictures) to tell incredibly funny and lovable stories. You cannot go wrong with the George and Martha books, but I am also very fond of his Fairy tale/Folk tale retellings.
Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends, and A Light in the Attic kept my brother and me giggling for years, but A Giraffe and a Half was the one we wanted Mom to read out loud to us. It's a tongue twister and full of ridiculous combinations of roses and noses, gluey shoes, trunks filled with skunks and all manner of oddities.
King Bidgood's in the Bathtub (by Audrey and Don Wood) is a silly book with silly illustrations of a king who refuses to leave his bathtub. All the courtiers (in their hilarious fluffy costumes) attempt to make him leave with enticements of lunch, or dancing, or fishing, but only the little page boy can actually get him out of the bubbles.
The Monster at the End of this Book is the only book that a dear friend of mine would take with her when she went babysitting. It was all she needed because whatever children she was reading to, they'd just want to hear this one again and again. Like The Stinky Cheese Man and The Book with No Pictures, it uses the book itself as a tool for comedy, as Grover tries to get his readers to stop turning the pages so that they can continue to avoid the dreaded monster at the end of the book.
Bink and Golly are a pair of characters who now have three books full of the ups and downs of their friendship. They remind me of Calvin and Hobbes—their banter and their antics, even the illustration style, and they are outrageously funny. Although they do not technically qualify as "I can read" books (because of their extensive vocabulary and creative use of sentence structure,) these picture book/comic book mashups are great for kids starting to read on their own.
Those are some of my favorite funny books and authors for kids. What are some of yours?