A few weeks ago, you may have seen this post over on Vanity Fair. In it, B.J. Novak reads from his new kids book, The Book with No Pictures, to a class of what appears to be kindergarteners. He absolutely slays those kids, and as someone who finds no greater joy than seeing a group of kids lose it, I had to have that book. As marketing for a kids’ book goes, I’ve never seen it done better.
In fact before I’d even completed the video, I’d already purchased a copy of my very own.
It arrived two days later, and I immediately opened it up and read it to my own kids, and their response was not unlike what you see in the video above on a smaller scale (of three). It’s a brilliant yet simple conceit, really, and I’m surprised that — to my knowledge — no one else has come up with it: Using words in a book as a form of control over unwilling parents. There’s nothing a kid loves more than seeing a parent being forced to humiliate himself.
Obviously a lot will depend on the reader, and how game he or she is for saying “BOO BOO BUTT,” and his or her ability to give a good double take, but it’s incredibly fun to read for both the parent and the kids. In my opinion, it tops our list of kids books you can read over and over without succumbing to boredom in part because it requires so much participation from the reader, and it’s impossible for the reader to read it without getting caught up in the joke.
Basically, it’s the less painful version of running into a wall or falling off of a chair in order to crack your kids up. You do it with words, and not only does it allow you to elicit uproarious laughter from your kids, but it also encourages both reading and a love of words, because they are more than words. They are instructions. They are commands.
t’s hard to imagine it from the temp in The Office, but The Book without Pictures has every chance of becoming a classic kids’ book that will be read for decades to come. Well done, B.J. Novak.