Why cheeky kids’ books sit top of the Treehouse

Aussie kids love funny, naughty and cheeky books according to the list of the top 50 most popular children’s books of the past decade and David Walliams, Andy Griffiths and Jeff Kinney tell us why.

Funny stories rule with Aussie kids, an exclusive roll of honor of children’s book shows.

The top 50 most popular kids’ fiction books of the past decade have been revealed – and they are dominated by laugh-out-loud, cheeky reads.

Aussie author Andy Griffiths’ Treehouse series occupies the top six spots, with combined sales of more than 3.2 million books in Australia.

The Wimpy Kid series by US author Jeff Kinney, Australian comedian Anh Doh’s Weirdo series and three books by British comedian and author David Walliams also make the list, alongside JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

Griffiths, who is working on his 12th Treehouse book with illustrator Terry Denton, said the list, compiled by Nielsen BookScan, showed humor was key to getting kids to read, especially amid the Covid-19 gloom.

“Even when you’re reading apparently silly and nonsensical stuff your reading skills are getting better with every book that you finish,” he said.

Walliams, who has The World’s Worst Children, Gangsta Granny and Bad Dad on the list, said he was not surprised by the popularity of funny children’s books in Australia because Aussies were “well known for their naughty sense of humour”.

Griffiths and Walliams agreed funny books had another important role to play beyond encouraging kids to read.

“Life can be tough, and we all need to laugh as much as possible,” Walliams said. “Comedy bonds us together and makes us see the world upside down. Funny books make kids happy. To see your child chuckling over a book is a wonderful thing to behold.”

Griffiths said being funny alone was not enough, with young readers wanting good stories that blended fantasy and adventure with laughs.

Kinney, whose 15 Diary of a Wimpy Kid books make the list with almost 4.2 million combined sales, said “the more you read, the better your life will be.”

“Readers are always the most interesting people and they’re curious about the world,” he said. “And any types of books will do: nonfiction, fantasy, adventure, humour.”

Griffith and Denton have produced 11 Treehouse books, 10 of which made the top 50 list.

The first – The 13-Storey Treehouse – was written in 2011 and tops the list with almost 674,000 sales. Their 12th book – The 156-Storey Treehouse – is due for release in September.

Griffiths and Walliams urged children to look to the funny experiences in their lives to write their own silly stories for the 2022 Kids News Short Story Competition.

“If something makes you laugh there is a good chance it will make others laugh too,” Walliams said.

“When writing a funny story, you can let your imagination run wild. Be as silly and surreal as you can.”

FULL LIST OF TOP 50 CHILDREN’S BOOKS OF THE PAST DECADE BELOW

Reading has always been a lot of fun for Natalie Morgan.

That might have something to do with her choice of book. The 11-year-old loves turning the pages of a David Walliams story or one of Andy Griffiths’ Treehouse books.

“I like how funny and absurd they are,” said the Year 5 student at Yarrambat Primary School.

“I like just sitting down and having a good read and laughing out loud. They make me laugh so hard sometimes.”

Natalie, who also enjoys reading Jackie French’s stories, said her favorite books had inspired her own writing.

A runner up in last year’s Kids News Short Story Competition, she is busy planning her entry for this year and is considering trying her hand at historic fiction.

The Kids News Short Story Competition, which attracted a record 4600 entries last year, opens on Monday, May 30.

See kidsnews.com.au for more information and to enter.

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