Academic journal article International Journal of Education

Humor and Reading Motivation in Children: Does the Tickling Work?

Academic journal article International Journal of Education

Humor and Reading Motivation in Children: Does the Tickling Work?

Article excerpt


In spite of employing various reading techniques by teachers to motivate their students, some techniques may be less effective as they tend to repress rather than to motivate reading in children. Educators to some extent could unintentionally deter as opposed to allay the fears of reluctant young readers, consequently hampering the development of their intrinsic motivation for reading. This article sheds light into children's appreciation of humour and its effect on their reading abilities; children's reading preferences, and how to motivate them. The benefits and significance of humour socially, and cognitively through the facilitation of playful learning environment, reduction of learning anxiety, and the stimulation of students' learning motivation, are liable of creating in children the desire for the tickling sensation that accompanies humourous reading materials. An appraisal of global trend of children's strong preference for funny, riddles and joke books, in conjunction with an overview of the sense of humour, its appreciation and the use of humour as an adaptive mechanism in young readers, are among the noteworthy insights presented for educators to ruminate upon.

Keywords: humor; intrinsic; reading; motivation; children


Humor as simple as it seems has greatly puzzled early philosophers and later psychologist, as it assumes the complexity of the human phenomenon for the intricacy of analysis (Ziv, 1976). Apart from its therapeutic function, humor is identified to play an important role in human cognitive, social, emotional and moral development (Martin, 2007). A few research projects on the influence of humor in the educational experience of humor and learning are based on convergent thinking. Humor studied in relation to creativity revealed that highly creative children have better sense of humor than their peers and a similar correlation was found in another study with undergraduate students (Ziv, Shulman, & Schleifer, 1979).

Freud in his attempt to relate play, daydreaming and humor to act on creativity, according to Ziv (1989), paved the way for contemporary research on humor. Although Freud's writing was based on adults' experience whereby he divided creativity into: process and product, the aspect of children creativity involves the cognitive process solely in the creative act. Based on Gilford, (1959) the theory on the structure of intellect proposed the two types of thinking; convergent and divergent. The divergent thinking is noted to be related to creativity, producing a variety of results or responses. This is opposed to convergent which is related to intelligence. However, creativity testing is confined to the cognitive aspect; not having bearing on the behavioral product (Ziv, 1989). Children are noted to be easily adaptable to the bond in humor and creativity which is addressed as cognitive playfulness.

Issues affecting reading motivation

Teachers are great in their quest in using various reading techniques to motivate their students. However, some techniques are just as less effective as they tend to repress rather than motivate reading. The idea of intrinsic reading motivation is embedded in young reader's choice of reading materials. Mohr, (2006) urged educators to understand children's reading preferences, and how to motivate them. The need for children's choice in reading motivation is emphasized by Jones, Hartman, and Taylor (2006), "the most important aspect of teaching the reluctant reader is to remove his fear" (p. 35). In order to effectively facilitate children's reading development, one should understand their book preference and reading habit.

A two -year investigation into learning and teaching of children's literature in Europe by the university of West England, university of Akureyri in Iceland, Gazi university in Turkey and the university of Marcis in Spain under the sponsorship of the European commission for lifelong learning program, among the elementary students revealed that most children do like to read books that make them laugh with : 69%, 65%, 57% and 53% in agreement amongst children from Spain, UK, Iceland and Turkey respectively (Adalsteinsdottir, 2011). …

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