Sunday, November 24, 2013

What's So Funny?

"There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt." Erma Bombeck
It is an embarrassing fact that I have a middle-schooler's sense of humor. I often struggle to keep myself from laughing when my students do something hysterically inappropriate or silly, especially when another teacher is nearby. If someone tells me that I have the sense of humor of a  middle school student, it generally isn't a compliment. Most of the time it means that I find silly, inappropriate pranks to be funny. If someone passes gas in yoga class, I am the one who won't be able to stop herself from laughing.
Some of my favorite middle level funnies.

Selecting middle school literature is like wading into the ocean. It is important to be familiar with the water to avoid wading into the deep and dangerous  "too mature for this audience" books all the while knowing that yes, there are a few eighth graders who are ready to enjoy books in this area.  Remaining in the shallows of the "safe" books is not a good idea either. This is especially true for romance, realistic fiction and comedy.  Yes, some of my sixth graders will read N.E.R.D.S, but many of them will put it down as soon as  they learn that the characters are in elementary school. I find that my students generally want to read about students who are their age or older. I serve students in grades 6-8, but my purchasing includes titles that are recommended for grades 5-9. Middle school has to be the toughest level to buy for, the books have to be like Goldilocks, just right!

Certain books and series are super popular, such as the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. I usually tend to read only the first book in a series like this because once a book reaches that type of mass popularity, it doesn't need me to promote it. I certainly take advantage of the hype that accompanies new books in a series and movie releases with expertly timed trivia contests and first check out drawings, however.

Sometimes, the illustrations and pictures are the funniest part of the book. And what about some of those R.L. Stine books? Many of his books are humorous. . . . And what about books like Nightlight, a parody of Twilight? There are quite a few literary elements employed in humorous books, making them excellent teaching tools.  Is humor a genre or a literary element? Why isn't there an award for it? What could we call the award? How about the Ha! Ha! ?  What's that smell?

I think someone farted.

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