iPhone Fart Machines

Within the first week of buying an iPhone, I downloaded a free fart machine application as well as one that cost me a few bucks. It was so cool. I learned how to set my iphone to "Sneak Attack" so that I could play tricks on my buddies. I know what your thinking, "How old are you?" Believe me, I ask myself the same question from time to time. I don’t know why I’m attracted to gross things like that. I actually a pretty normal guy – really.

Why the Obsession with Gross Humor?

For the most part, boys of all ages are obsessed with gross humor.  Perhaps there are some brain based chemical reactions that are going on, I don’t know. One thing is for certain though, most boys like things that are gross.

Old School Attitudes and Censorship

The year was 1999. To the dismay of an "old school" librarian I knew, the book "Parts" by Tedd Arnold was nominated for the Colorado Children’s Book Award contest. How dare we allow a book that mentioned boogers and other gross things! Not willing to allow such a disgrace, she would not allow that book in "her" library – censorship in its finiest form. Well, to her surprise, guess which book won the contest for that year? You guessed it, Parts. I never did find out how she addressed the issue after it won.

Gross Books

It hasn’t been until recently that gross books have been more accepted in schools. After 6 or 7 years in teaching, I finally decided not to hide and run from gross humor with kids. As I witnessed the profound impact gross books had on boys, I strived to help other adults realize the benifits. Books like Walter the Farting Dog and Dirty Berty brought great excitement to hundreds and hundreds of kids, especially struggling boy readers.

Using Gross Humor to Create A Positive Experience

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about being polite and having manors. At times, gross books can be used to talk about what is ok and what is not, how there is a time and place for certain things. Why surpress a natural born instinct in boys? Why not take advantage of their attraction to this uniques genre. In the end, it’s all about getting kids excited about books, reading, and school. 

Popular Forms of Gross:

farting, burping, puking, boogers, poop, pee, gross bugs, guts,

A Question to Comment On:

What gross books do you know of that boys like?

 

Posted in: Content

{ 22 comments… add one }

  • keith at ela

    Why the Obsession with Gross Humor? Is not a strait forward question to answer, however from my observations as a parent of 2 boys, as a teacher of boys and girls of all ages from 6 to 60 and as a boy myself, (I can just remember that part of my life) I have seen that boys and girls at an early age learn equally the same and at an early age boys are not afraid to read the same books, stories and comics as girls but as soon as they begin to realize they are not the same as girls, they no longer want to read the same as them. From an early age they need to be more macho and God forbid if they are seen to be reading something girly, other boys might think this is sissy, girl like. This is a no no from an early age. Gross Humor is perhaps considered, even if it be subconsciously, more macho, more boyish and not girly, in fact the more the girls don’t like it, the more the boys want to read it. Many would prefer to read books the same as girls but it’s not seen as cool for them by other boys, so it is peer pressure that makes them read with an obsession, Gross Humor.
    I once had an adult student who left school unable to read. He taught himself by reading pornographic magazines, and then he came to me to improve on what he had learned. Any type of book, magazine or comic is ok as long as it is getting them to read. I personally left school at 15, only able to read a little. I went to work in the Merchant Navy, so was at sea a lot of the time, with no distractions. I was given a book to read and did not want them to know I could not read well, however I did start to read it and once I started I could not put the book down. It took me six months to read it all and I enjoyed it. It was the Carpetbaggers by Harold Robbins and if any of you know of this book you will know it is a very long book, about 6 inches thick. Now I read book like this all the time, such as Shogun and all the other book James Clavell has written. There is nothing wrong in Gross Humor as long as it gets boys reading and does not corrupt their mind too much, as they say boys will be boys.

    Reply
  • jwaage

    The gross factor has worked tremendously in my classroom. Getting boys to read about history (or anything else for that matter) can be like pulling teeth at times. In each class that I teach, I try to find a little eeew factor which will catch the boys attention, and next thing you know, they’re asking for more to read! My boys LOVE reading about the Black Plague, and anything that has to do with war is a sure hit!

    Reply
  • vanessa_cruz0615

    That’s it jwaage! Gross Humor and gross books really works. It will be a great help to catch your students attention.

    Reply
  • jwaage

    Keith,

    I giggled at your line about not corrupting their minds too much. As a teacher and a parent, I am continually struggling with the decision as to where the line should be. I feel as though there is a delicate balance, but I’ll do anything to get a boy to read. I have a few books that I allow my students to borrow with parent permission that extend their learning about various subjects. “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” goes in to some grotesque details of the Holocaust, yet I’ve had a half dozen boys read all 1147 pages of it for ‘fun’ to enhance what they are learning. I feel as though this detailed account may be a little gross, but it’s an important part of history and the boys get sucked in!

    Reply
  • Mike McQueen

    I agree, samanthajr, that encouragement can go a long way.

    ayoubmarket, Your involvement with our site is extraordinary! Thank you for sharing all of your great insights. I will have to check out that book.

    keith at ela, knowing your profile story, you are an inspiration to so many boys! For the most part, I agree with your statement, "Any type of book, magazine or comic is ok as long as it is getting them to read." Contrary to the purpose of my article here, I believe we all have our biases and fine line of what we consider appropriate. Is it appropriate to read pornographic magazines? You raise a great controversial question. Be on the lookout for a blog post from me on this topic.

    Reply
  • Chuck

    Farting is “IN”

    Farting is “in” in our school. At least in some classes that I handle. There are boys who would intentionally fart inside the classroom and let their classmates smell the aroma of their fart. It used to gross out everyone but it has become acceptable. Even to the point that it makes everyone laugh.

    I can never figure out why boys love gross humor.

    Reply
  • thebookdragon

    I am SO glad you wrote this! My favorite “gross” series (and my son and I are in agreement about this one) is Andy Griffiths’ Butt War series. With titles like “The Day My Butt When Psycho”, and more butt puns and flatulence references than we ever thought up ourselves, this series is a riot! I also like the “Smelly Old History” books.

    Reply
  • Guerilla Librarian

    One of the books that made YALSA’s Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers is Farts: A Spotter’s Guide by Crai S. Bower. 2008. Chronicle, $12.95 (978-0811866095) It comes complete with sound effects. Teen boys love it, my 10 year old grandson loves it, and so do his 2 year old and 1 year old brothers.

    Reply
  • Mike McQueen

    Is it possible, Guerilla Librarian, that I may not be the only librarian to ever wanted a fart machine for the library?? I’m likely the only adult who is that immature.

    Reply
  • bestmommy

    Hello everyone,
    I’ve learned from experience with my 2 boys that GROSS will definitely get and hold their attention whether discussing something GROSS or having them read about something GROSS. My oldest son was a very lazy reader until second grade when his teacher introduced him to the Capt. Underpants books. At first, I thought she was kidding but she knew they captivated boys his age and he would gladly read them on a daily basis increasing his vocabulary and reading strength. Potty humor at its best! He read every single volume and now his little brother who’s finishing up first grade has become addicted to them as well.

    Reply
  • thebookdragon

    Gross humor can definitely pull readers in and get the attention of a class whose attention might be straying.  Coupling factual information with gross humor?  You have an excellent resource that will get checked out over and over.  Last school year, one of my students’ favorite sections of the library became the 500s section with the body function–and one of the books that was most checked out?  Gee Whiz:  It’s All About Pee by Susan E. Goodman.  Another good title for environmental lessons?  Who Pooped In the Park by Steve Kemp. I used that one as part of an environmental lesson for kids who weren’t able to go on a camping retreat with their classmates.  What was funniest to me were the varied reactions–everything from giggles to shock to intense listening.

    Reply
  • Shellie

    As a nanny for three boys, sometimes all I have to do is yell “Booger!” to get their attention.
    It has been known to stop fights!

    Reply
  • Dwanna Callaway

    I am now a 2nd year librarian and I learned as a 5th and 6th grade Science teacher that gross “engrosses”.

    My boys — and girls both loved learning why hyenas had white “poo” and the catepillar that “shoots” its poo 15 to 17 feet away, etc…

    My Middle school boys love “The Day My Butt Went Psycho”

    Reply
  • Mike McQueen

    Great idea BookDragon, coupling gross humor with facts is yet another way to lure them in.

    Reply
  • MsMolly27

    Have you seen the book “Sir Fartsalot Hunts the Booger”?

    It is on the Alaskan Library Association’s Battle of the Books list for 09-10. Good for them!

    Reply
  • tomhick

    Humour or humor (see spelling differences) is the tendency of particular cognitive experiences to provoke laughter and provide cameras amusement. Many theories exist about what humour is and what social function it serves. People of all ages and cultures respond to humour. The majority of people are able to be amused, to laugh or smile at something funny and thus they are considered to have a “sense of humour”.

    The term derives from the humoral medicine of the ancient Greeks, which stated that a mix of fluids web host known as humours (Greek: χυμός, chymos, literally juice or sap, metaphorically, flavour) controlled human health and emotion.

    A sense of humour is the ability to experience humour, although the extent to which an individual will find something humorous life insurance depends on a host of variables, including geographical location, culture, maturity, level of education, intelligence and context. For example, young children may favour slapstick, such as Punch and Judy puppet shows or cartoons such as Tom and Jerry. Satire may rely more on understanding the target of the humour and thus tends to appeal to more mature audiences. Nonsatirical humour can be specifically termed loans “recreational drollery”.

    Reply
  • Ms. Yingling

    Brewer’s Vladimir Todd series trades on this with blood juice boxes. I don’t have an objection to gross humor, but by 8th grade, a lot of boys have outgrown it, so I’m looking for funny books that are older but still appropriate for middle school. Pickings are slim!

    Reply
  • Ms. Yingling

    Brewer’s Vladimir Todd series trades on this with blood juice boxes. I don’t have an objection to gross humor, but by 8th grade, a lot of boys have outgrown it, so I’m looking for funny books that are older but still appropriate for middle school. Pickings are slim!

    Reply
  • Anodsdnymous

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    Reply
  • Amy

    I have the Sir Fartsalot book and the Captain Underpants series in the collection of my school library. Boys and girls both read those books, which I was a little surprised at the girls reading them. I’m very happy to read everyone’s ideas here. This is a really helpful conversation.

    Reply

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