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Sound It Out

Dr. Joanne Meier

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

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

November 12, 2008

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 and A Chocolate Moose for Dinner and the ever popular Amelia Bedelia series.

At our house, Kids Are Punny and our lift-the-flap Elephants in the Bathtub 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?


Reading these other "jokes" by young ones is so fun! Keep 'em coming. And Leah, I have to say, ANYTHING in my house that involves the word "underwear" is a really big hit! I've even caught the girls trying to shape conversations toward "mysterious" lost objects. It's where? There. Under where?

"Banana in my cereal" is way better than my 6 year old son and nephew's version of Knock KnockWho's there?Grass...(or insert and # of weird things from grass to banana's here)Grass Who?GRASS IN MY UNDERWEAR!!They crack each other up!

My son's best joke at that age was"What did the ant say to the grasshopper?The lawnmower is coming." Then, he would laugh and we would laugh at him laughing. Today he is a well adjusted daddy at 28. It must have been good for him.

About that age, my son ended an evening of grandparent entertainment with the classic, "Knockknock" "Orange you glad this is the last one?" and it really did crack us up! (He's still funny and entertaining at 27!) Hang in there . . .

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