Research on Young Children’s Humor: Theoretical and Practical Implications for Early Childhood Education
Recchia, Susan L.
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Place of publicationCham
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Humor is often associated with multiple positive effects on children’s lives and is highlighted for its impact on their socio-emotional development and ability to cope with complex issues in their lives. This pilot study investigated if and how children can appreciate and produce cartoons which concentrate on fighting disability stereotypes. A group of three 6 and two 8-year olds attended a program which lasted 7 weeks, for 90 min each week. Data collection included audiotaping of their discussions, participant observations and artifacts. Findings suggest that children go through a process in appreciating cartoons about disability, from describing to noting, and then providing a resolution to the disability issue explored. They produced the necessary wording to an existing cartoon with empty bubbles, and created their own cartoon, both graphics and text, focusing on disability issues such as access, charity and equality. The humorous elements children employed in producing text to disability cartoons included: hyperbole, irony, and sarcasm. These findings fall under the Theory of the Absurd and the Empowerment Theory highlighting the incongruity element and the empowering potential of using humor through cartoons as a means to develop a critical stance against generalized stereotypes about disability and other social issues.