11 Funny Picture Books That Will Make Your Family Laugh Out Loud

Two men and a girl laughing

What does laughter have to do with Judaism? A lot! There's actually a mitzvah, or commandment, about cheering up others or lightening the mood (when appropriate). Furthermore, Jewish storytellers are great at bringing levity to serious situations through the magic of folktales, midrash, and oral storytelling. Laughter can keep us from taking life (and ourselves) too seriously. Enjoy some belly laughs, and wonderful Jewish stories, with the picture books in this list:

Clarence's Topsy-Turvy Shabbat
by Jennifer Tzivia MacLeod

Recommended for ages 2 to 5

Clarence the Raccoon is trying to get ready for Shabbat. He keeps getting things ALMOST right...but not quite. Poor Clarence!

A girl sneezing at a wedding

Don't Sneeze At The Wedding
by Pamela Mayer

Recommended for ages 6 to 7

The big day is finally here: Anna is the flower girl in her aunt's wedding! Uh Oh -- Anna feels a funny tickle in her nose. Achoo! How is Anna going to get through the ceremony without sneezing?

A bear and a child

Hanukkah Bear
by Eric Kimmel

Recommended for ages 5 and up

Bubba Brayna has invited the rabbi to join her in a lovely Hanukkah dinner! But Bubba Brayna is very old, and she doesn't see very well. When a guest arrives at her door, she thinks it's the rabbi...but it's not. And this guest is hungry!

A drawing of bird in a space ship

How to Get to Savta's for Shabbat
by Varda Livney

Recommended for ages 3 and up

An elephant ride, a rocket to the moon, cloudtravel . . . getting to Savta's house for Shabbat is one involved journey!

A boy in a ship

Lemuel the Fool
by Myron Uhlberg

Recommended for ages 7 to 8

Lemuel is a fisherman -- and, let's face it, a fool. That's why, when he sets out on a long trip, he doesn't realize that the place he ends up is exactly where he started. Seeing his old surroundings with fresh eyes, however, helps him realize how nice his life actually is. So who's the fool, really? This warm spin on a familiar Chelm story will delight readers...and maybe make them think.

Characters in the windows of a house

Meet the Latkes
by Alan Silberberg

Recommended for ages 7 to 8

Grandpa Latke is telling the rest of the Latke family the story of Hanukkah -- but he seems to be a little confused about some the details. Is it Mega Bees or Maccabees? Can someone please set Grandpa straight? For more laughs, check out the follow-up story, Meet the Matzah.

a dog looking forward

Oh No, George!
by Chris Haughton

Recommended for ages 3 to 4

George is a dog who means well. He really does. But he keeps making mistakes. Soon George learns how to take responsibility for his behavior, make amends, and try to do better the next time. (Emphasis on TRY.)

a dog looking forward

The Sages of Chelm and the Moon
by Shlomo Abbas

Recommended for ages 6 to 7

Those Chelmites! They're just too smart for their own good. The moon lights the way at night, but thanks to the lunar cycle, Chelm is left in the dark every month. When the town sages come up with an idea to catch the moon...well, let's just say the result is predictable. And funny.

Five people with bikes above them

Terrible, Terrible
by Robin Bernstein

Recommended for ages 7 to 8

In this contemporary take on a beloved Jewish folktale, a rabbi helps Abigail discover the wonderful aspects of her newly-blended family. For other great versions of this folktale, check out It Could Always be Worse by Margot Zemach, Oy Vey! Life in a Shoe by Bonnie Grubman, or the podcast episode, Moon Station One.

A man walking in the street in socks while a woman standing next to a cat is holding a pair of boots

The Triumphs of Fuzzy Fogtop
by Anne Rose

Recommended for ages 6 to 7

In this collection of Chelm-ish stories, Fuzzy Fogtop proves how he got his fuzzy-brained name. Whether he's losing himself in his own bedroom, trying in vain to see the world, or mistaking the identity of an old friend, Fuzzy remains of good cheer -- even if everyone else around him is getting a little befuddled!

A giant fish above a town

The Wise Men of Chelm and the Foolish Charp
by Bashevis Singer

Recommended for ages 8 and up

In this story by Isaac Bashevis Singer, the wise men of Chelm need to come up with a way to punish a very rude carp. They come up with a unique sentence...but just who is foolish here, exactly?


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