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Mother and daughter painting an environmental mural together
Dr. Joanne Meier
Sound It Out
Joanne Meier

Knock, knock. Who’s there? Jokes and riddles.

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Banana who?
Banana in my cereal.

Yep. That’s our six year old at the dinner table. She so desperately wants to make up her own side-splitting knock knock jokes, but she’s not quite there yet. She loves jokes and all things silly, but she’s just not at the point of being able to come up with her own word play to make up a (really) funny one.

The October 2008 issue of Reading Teacher published an article (on Reading Rockets here) by Marcy Zipke about teaching metalinguistic awareness and reading comprehension with riddles. For teachers and parents, it’s a great refresher read about multiple meanings in words and sentences, and ambiguous language. It’s also a great reminder about the role adults can play in helping kids discover the fun of language!

Zipke includes an annotated bibliography of riddle books and ambiguous language books that is a helpful resource to those who want to torture themselves by having joke books laying around the house or classroom. The list includes books by Fred Gwynne like The King Who Rained (opens in a new window) and A Chocolate Moose for Dinner (opens in a new window) and the ever popular Amelia Bedelia (opens in a new window) series.

At our house, Kids Are Punny (opens in a new window) and our lift-the-flap Elephants in the Bathtub (opens in a new window) have both been read over and over and over and over again.

Because Anna’s in a very intense joke-telling phase right now, I’m sure she’s going to turn that metalinguistic corner very soon and start coming up with some real zingers. Right? Please?

About the Author

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Publication Date
November 12, 2008