Ministry of Funny Voices

-posted by Meghan

If Monty Python had their funny walks, every parent has a bag of funny voices.  Most are to keep kids interested and involved in the story- so I tell myself.  In truth, I often find myself returning to books that keep me interested- by letting me read aloud in fun, silly or different voices and accents.  If you don’t think that performing for your kids is your strong suit, I wanted to recommend some books that all but force you to dip into your bag of silly voices:

cbbyCowboy Baby by Sue Heap

It was gettin’ late and time for bed, but Cowboy Baby needed to round up his animal posse.  Then he and Sheriff Pa play a game of hide and seek, and Sheriff Pa lassos a twinkling star for his little deputy, before tucking in the tuckered out baby.  You can hear the old west music playing in your mind as you read aloud the lyrical text.  (You may have to get this at the Library or eBay – it seems to be out of print now!)

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tghckieTough Cookie by Dave Wisniewski

This is one of those fun books that appeals to 2 year olds (who like the idea of talking cookies) to 8 year olds (who get the parody a little better) and to parents, who channel their own versions of Bogie and Bacall in reading aloud this funny story of a cookie who lives in the jar, see?  But there’s this guy “fingers”, see, who comes and snatches the cookies…  Can he and his gal Pecan Sandie and the lowlife crumbs at the bottom of the jar save the latest cookie that “fingers” has set his sights on?

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lolaI Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child

Yes, a Lauren Child book makes it to many of our lists.  But they’re such great fun for both kids and adults.  If you haven’t seen the BBC show of the books, you may not realize straightaway that Lola and Charlie live in England.   But once you do, you can’t help but read these with the sing-song “But, Chaaaalie” that you just know the precocious Lola would use.  Oh, the story?  Lola is a very picky eater who has a long list of things she will not eat, ending with the fact that she would “never, not ever, eat a tomato.”  Her savvy older brother usually finds a way to get Lola to do just what he wants (and what is really best for her).

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skipSkippyjon Jones by Judith Schachner

Skippyjon is a cat who likes to sleep with the birds and pretend that he is a chihuahua.  When he disappears in his closet, he emerges in old Mexico to have adventures with his imaginary pals, los Chimichangos.  While the Mexican accents are fun, I actually have the best time reading his mother, Mama Junebug Jones (who sounds very Blanche DuBois at our house!).

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3bearsThe Three Bears (Any version you like, we go with Byron Barton’s at our house, for the toddlers…)

This isn’t only a good voice story, with Papa having a deep voice, Mama having a higher voice, and Baby having a little voice, it’s a great teaching tool.  I heard this tip once from a child psychiatrist who was speaking at a parents group:  use this book to demonstrate a voice (or voices) that you don’t like that your child uses.  Papa could be really loud (a voice that should be saved for outside) and Mama could be really whiny or high pitched (that voice we all hate!) and Baby Bear talks just right.  Then if your child uses a tone you don’t like, you can say, “I can’t understand you when you talk like that bear.  You need to use your just right voice like Baby Bear so I can understand you…”

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And any of our pirate books, but especially Shiver Me Letters.

No explanation necessary.  Just start rolling your “Arrrrrrr”s and have fun!

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