Pen Elaine’s favorite book…this week

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We have several favorites right now, but we are all enjoying the consequences of reading Pen Elaine a joke book! This book from my own childhood, The Joke Book, by Roy McKie, is full of funny cartoons to illustrate the cheesiest jokes for ages 2 to 92. Plus, there are about a dozen knock-knock jokes, which, if you know kids, you know holds endless humor and entertainment value. One of our regular lunch pastimes is now to tell each other jokes. Getting Pen Elaine to tell some of her jokes has also become a favorite parlor trick, if you know what I mean. It is an absolute joy to hear a toddler crack herself up, and for that to happen after she tells a joke about a clock striking thirteen or finding a missing rabbit by acting like a carrot…the joy comes with an extra chuckle and head-shake.

Developmentally, I think joke books are great for several reasons – for one, this definitely encourages practicing memorization and expanding working memory, for obvious reasons. Also, humor is a trait that develops early on and is important in social interactions and developing good interpersonal skills. Third, telling jokes involves conversational timing and turn-taking, necessary aspects of positive and mature communication when conversing with others. Learning jokes also provides ample opportunity for building vocabulary and really learning the meaning behind those words, which are oftentimes words not as commonly learned in everyday speech. For instance, Pen Elaine has learned about storks standing on one foot, athlete’s foot (and astronauts getting mistletoe), and glove compartments. Finally, making other people laugh is very gratifying and builds Pen Elaine’s confidence in her own speaking ability and in her capacity to bring joy to others.

Now, sharing this book with my daughter is especially delightful for me since it is the exact copy from my own childhood. The inscription from my mom is still inside, and seeing it every time we read this with my own daughter makes me smile more than any of the jokes inside! Hope you read this one, Mommy! Can you believe what a treasure I have here?

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Reading together is a great way to open up opportunities for discussion, even with a 2-and-a-half-year-old! Books open her mind to new possibilities and exploring the unknown. When we read together, we both think of questions that we’d like to ask each other. Pen Elaine is very inquisitive, and most all toddlers and preschoolers go through a very long “why” phase of wanting to understand how the world works. Reading a variety of books together helps encourage and develop curiosity and creativity and school preparedness. Reading together, just like eating dinner together as a family, is a way to promote success in school, teaching your child that they are loved and valued by the time you give to them, time where they can listen and also be heard. Reading is a time to snuggle and have safe touch, important for all areas of development in a young individual.

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