There are two phases that most kids go through at some point in their young lives. The first phase begins when they decide reading is boring. The second begins when they decide that "bathroom humor" (as my mother always diplomatically called it) is an endless source of hilarity.
So what do you do when these two phases happen simultaneously?
As we mentioned last week, The AP recently released an article discussing the relatively modern trend of bathroom humor in children's books, designed to get kids--boys in particular--reading more. It's likely that some parents and teachers still find these books a little distasteful (Captain Underpants doesn't seem quite as pristine as Caddie Woodlawn, after all), but there's no denying that books filled with fart jokes and gross-out humor often have a better chance of grabbing the attention of reluctant readers.
The AP interviewed author and fourth grade teacher Ray Sabini (who writes under the pen name Raymond Bean) about his two books, Sweet Farts and the sequel, Sweet Farts: Rippin' It Old School, which are geared toward the most unwilling young readers:
"Reaching those reluctant boys, it's a challenge I take very, very seriously and this is what they think is funny," Sabini said. There's also history in there. There's science in there, the problem of bullying, but it's the humor that gets their attention."
Ray talks about the issue a bit more in this video interview. What it boils down to, he says, is that convincing kids that reading can be fun will ultimately get them reading more and more. And he believes gross-out humor can act as a springboard for reluctant readers to discover more favorite books--one of his students fell in love with The Day My Butt Went Psycho, and was reading The Lightning Thief by the end of the year.
I'm sure gross-out humor books still have their opponents (my mom probably would have been appalled if I'd traded in Ramona Quimby for fart jokes), but if bathroom humor gets a hesitant young reader to pick up a book for the first time in years, I think most parents and teachers would consider it a win. Omni readers, what do you think?