Funny books for beginner readers

Working towards independent reading can be slow and painstaking work. Beginner books with silly characters, outlandish scenarios, funny dialogue, and comic illustrations can help create enthusiastic and entertained readers.

Here are some of the recent junior fiction books for readers aged 6-8 years that made us laugh.


Timmy the Ticked-Off Pony and the Poo of Excitement by Magda Szubanski & Dean Rankine (illustrator)

I don’t need to sell you on the fact that a children’s book written by comedic genius Magda Szubanski is hilarious. But in case you still need convincing, all you need to know is that this book is about a very famous, very cranky, very lazy pony called Timmy, who has it all - his own television show, a mansion, fame, a stalker Lorraine - until an unfortunate incident involving his rival Tony and the titular poo of excitement takes it all away from him.

The story is told using short and simple sentences, but some interesting vocabulary is introduced. There are longer pages of five to six sentences, alternating with ‘rest’ pages, where the illustrations or speech bubbles do most of the talking. Dean Rankine’s excellent cartoons of the narcissistic and highly expressive Timmy add extra humour and context. With a laughable anti-hero lead, loads of toilet humour and slapstick action, this is a very fun read.


Take Off! (Evie and Pog, Book 1) by Tania McCartney

Best friends Evie (a six-year-old girl) and Pog (a pug dog) live in an expansive treehouse in Granny’s big backyard. They’re a funny duo; Pog likes to drink tea and read the newspaper, while Evie likes jumping, books, cake and isn’t averse to drinking from dog bowls. Evie is also very prone to getting into scrapes and accidents, so it’s fortunate Pog is always there to save the day.

Delightful full-page illustrations, four to five well-spaced sentences per page, action words in big fonts, and three short adventures make this book an ideal transition from picture books to junior fiction. Perfect for young readers with a quirky sense of humour.


No Adults Allowed: Super Sidekicks (Book 1) by Gavin Aung Than

Superhero sidekick Junior Justice is sick of playing second fiddle to full-of-himself Captain Perfect, so he recruits three other fed-up sidekicks - Flygirl, Dinomite and Goo - to his Super Sidekicks team. But it turns out that the adults aren’t so keen to let their subordinates go without a fight… When the evil Dr Enok kidnaps his former favourite pet Goo, the team must pull out all stops (and exercise their skills in tickle fighting, transforming into dinosaurs and acrobatics) to rescue their new friend.

This black and white junior graphic novel is laid out clearly with short, spacious speech bubbles and easy-to-follow cells. The action is fast-paced and there’s plenty of heart to go along with the humour in this story. Kids will laugh at the action, and also appreciate the attention paid to quiet achievers, personal goals, friendship and teamwork.


Dory Fantasmagory: Head In The Clouds by Abby Hanlon

Dory has her first loose tooth and can’t stop talking about the tooth fairy. Naturally, this drives her older brother and sister crazy. But it also sparks a serious jealous streak in her nemesis, Mrs. Gobble Gracker, who wants all of Dory’s attention to herself. When Mrs. Gobble Gracker decides to don a tutu and steal the tooth fairy’s job, Dory must come up with a serious plan.

Featuring straightforward text and detailed cartoons with lots of speech bubbles, Dory Fantasmagory books are always hectic fun from start to finish. Dory often can’t tell the difference between real and imaginary, and is hilariously annoying and adorable. There are some longer sentence and dialogue structures in this book, but the balance of text and illustrations will make this an enjoyable book for kids starting to build their reading confidence.


Accidental Trouble Magnet (Planet Omar, Book 1) by Zanib Mian & Nasaya Mafaridik (illustrator)

Omar’s family has moved house so his scientist mother can take up her dream job, and now he has to adjust to a new neighbourhood and school. Omar makes a new friend in Charlie, but also encounters bully Daniel, who isn’t shy about sharing some of his ignorant opinions. This freewheeling story is narrated in first person by the effervescent, imaginative and slightly anxious Omar. Everyday British-Pakistani Muslim family life mixes in with schoolyard drama and by the end, after getting lost together on a school excursion, even Omar and Daniel learn to understand each other.

This entertaining and funny book has lots of chapters, spaced-out sentences and plenty of cartoons and handwritten fonts to provide interest. With around four short paragraphs per page, it requires some sustained reading power, so will suit readers moving closer towards independent reading.

Leanne Hall is a children’s and YA specialist at Readings Kids. She also writes books for children and young adults.

Timmy the Ticked-Off Pony and the Poo of Excitement (Timmy the Ticked-Off Pony, Book 1)

Timmy the Ticked-Off Pony and the Poo of Excitement (Timmy the Ticked-Off Pony, Book 1)

Magda Szubanski, Dean Rankine

$17.99Buy now

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