This afternoon I shared my “Wind Song” story with one of my second grade classes. They listened intently. I asked them what they thought. They were so polite, they told me lines that they liked.
I asked one young girl if she thought the story was funny. She looked at me and smiled, then nodded her head yes.
“You didn’t laugh.”
Dakota with eyes twinkling responded, “I laughed in my head.”
Yes this was a challenging audience, and I felt devastated when my story didn’t even elicit a chuckle.
So what did I learn? Audience - this was a story about young children, but it didn’t play to their humor. It played to adult humor. I have read other books for children that just didn’t work. Good story lines just missing elements like timing and a bit of magic - the laughter of children.
So what makes children laugh? Funny words – dialogue – playful sounds – clear pictures in the mind. Humor that is up front and lots of pictures.
The kids were checking out books today and I discourage my kindergarten kids from checking out chapter books. I focus them on picture books and true books written at their interest level.
One boy asked could they check out from the black cart (cart where the fiction books are waiting to be shelved). I explained they were for the older kids. He was not buying what I was selling.
Another student offered – “Books with difficult words. “
I said, “yes”.
Another added, “Too many words.”
My young student reflected, “Just lots of words?”
I nodded, “Yes” and added, “not very many pictures.”
His nose wrinkled up, “Just words?”
I then asked him if he was still interested in checking one of those books out. He looked at me with such disdain, and repeated “No pictures.”
It made me remember how disillusioned I was when I started reading chapter books and they didn’t have many pictures. I remember asking my mother why they left the pictures out.
Her answer was, “They expect you to make movies in your mind. You have to do the work instead of relying on an artist.”
Want to know a secret? I still like books with lots of pictures even though I have learned to make movies in my mind.