Sharing humorous stories and giggles with children around the world

Katy Manck


“Children love telling funny stories—how can they share them?”wondered teacher-librarians at a recent International Association of School Librarianship conference. From this line of questioning came GiggleIT, an online book written by children, and for children, hosted by IASL, working in partnership with ICDL, the International Children’s Digital Library. This new project is introduced by Katy Manck, librarian at Gilmer High School and adjunct professor in the College of Information, Library Science and Technologies at the University of North Texas.

Sharing humorous stories and giggles with children around the world

The Children’s and Young Adult Literature Special Interest Group of the International Association of School Librarianship began work on a new project during IASL2008 at the University of California at Berkeley, on 3-7 August 2008. Designed to help children around the world improve their English language literacy skills, the GiggleIT project encourages students from 10 to 14 years old to contribute their writings to a free online book celebrating stories and humor from world cultures.

Members of the international team who are collaborating on this project include Patricia Carmichael, Barbara Combes, Karen Bonanno,and Rhonda Cooney in Australia, Moira Eckdahl in Canada, Katy Manck in Texas, and Emily Manck at Drury University in Missouri. Following their initial meeting, the team has worked entirely online. Carmichael is the SIG chair, Combes and Carmichael designed the teaching/learning packages and rationale for the project, Bonanno is webmaster, Katy Manck works on publicity, and Emily Manck designs the mascots.

“Teaching online courses in UNT’s school librarian preparation program, I rarely meet my graduate students face-to-face,”notes Manck, “but I feel like I know them personally because we often add humorous notes to our emails and discussions. GiggleIT was created completely online after we left the conference, including my daughter’s designs for GiggleCritters, and it’s been more fun than work. Through this project, our teachers and children can become better writers and learn to clarify vocabulary in their stories and poems, so that readers all over the world will understand their culture and enjoy their humor.”

Here is an example of a limerick shared by Patricia Carmichael to encourage students to contribute rhyming limerick-style humorous poems to the GiggleIT eBook <>.

There once was a koala named Syd,

Who was caught smoking leaves as a kid,

His mother she spanked him,

The leaves nearly choked him,

And his ears caught fire in the bid.

Humor is an aspect of foreign culture that some L2 instructors in Japan find difficult to get across to students. It is a challenge for Japanese students to bridge the cultural divide and share humor in writing.According to the teacher-librarians, humor is a vehicle that can be used to promote cross-cultural understanding and collaboration for children and young adults around the world. Their plan is to publish children’s work online internationally and to help the children to identify their own culture through literature. The goal is to motivate, engage, encourage,and support, but most of all create an Internet site where children can have fun. Here is an example of free verse poetry about Australia contributed by Patricia Carmichael on the GiggleIT website <>.

Ocean End

Standing in an ocean end

Listen and see.

Green and inviting,

Calling and luring

Her fingertips curling

With crispy edged sand crusts,

And soft warm sifted dune hills

Feeling and caressing.

The lilt of the gull call,

The zest of the foam spray and

The scent of the shell song.

All over and over

Rolls in an then in again,

Draining round toe ends,

Tingling up ankles,

I fill up my lungs

With the call of the sea song.

The teacher-librarians plan to include many humorous stories and poems by children in the book to be read by children around the world. When they do, the GiggleIT project will be able to inspire children to be creative and make cross-cultural connections with other children around the world as they learn about humor from other countries while improving their literacy skills. It is hoped that students who contribute stories will make new friends around the world.

Competitions have been planned to motivate and stimulate students’reading and writing skills. Downloadable files and elearning packages with examples and worksheets for the class on the site are intended to help teachers connect stories, jokes, and poetry to their curriculum. Groups registered by their teacher are eligible to win cute prizes.

Registration, teaching resources, and access to the children’s stories, poetry, and jokes are free. Teachers of intermediate and middle school students can register to take part in the international project at the IASL homepage <>.

The GiggleIT teacher-librarians suggest that the term ebook has run its course and want the children contributing to the book to coin a fresh new term or label to describe the online publication. They hope that such a term can then become accepted into contemporary vocabulary worldwide.

Manck and her team members look forward to seeing haiku, senryu, and other writing genres appear in the GiggleIT ebook. Japanese students of English are invited to share their humor with other children aroundthe world. The team hopes that Japanese students of English will share stories of their homeland as well as their own original work.