Why Laughing Matters by Beth Garrod

Sister Switch is the latest book, her debut MG, from Beth Garrod and it is a funny body swap tale! Read on for her guest post about Why Laughing Matters!

Why Laughing Matters

I love dark crime books. I love auto-biographies. I love romance.

I love having a couple of books on the go and dipping into the one that is right, for right then. Sometimes I want to dive in deep to a world of mystery, sometimes I want to get lost in other people’s relationships, and other times all I want is something to distract from real life.

And when I want to do that, when I want to escape, the books I reach for are the funny ones.

Finding a book that makes me laugh is like having a favourite friend to hang out with at any hour of the day – and even better, it comes with zero worry of being good company myself. It’s a guaranteed pick-me-up in-between the pages – even if I can see my emails and messages stacking up. A funny book is something that can make me smile no matter what the day’s thrown at me – and what a year of throwing it’s been?!

And children want that choice too. Whether it’s detective societies, or far away quests, or characters that make them laugh like their best mates do – they deserve to be able to choose. Which is why funny books matter; because we all deserve somewhere we can go that will bring a guaranteed grin – especially when our real-life options have become more limited.

And what a great feeling it is when you’re reading to yourself and suddenly surprise yourself with the sound of your own laugh (although it can also surprise other people if you’re on a tube or quiet waiting room). But there can be a misconception– that funny books, and funny characters are throwaway. Too light and fluffy to matter. That a cosy read is a wasted one. And… I couldn’t disagree more. Any read enjoyed is not a wasted one – and now more than ever if young people have found a moment in the day that has helped them laugh, forget about the world, even if just for a minute, then I’d say that was pretty excellent.

And the great thing is, funny books aren’t just about putting a smile on someone’s face – because having humour doesn’t mean a book can’t have heart. Comedy can make children laugh while also tackling feelings and experiences they might be navigating. Because life can be funny. Even the things that feel mortifying at the time – the stranger pointing out your top is inside out, the thinking your headphones are connected but you’re blaring out a motivational ballad, the firing off a message to the wrong person – it can all be funny. Maybe not in the moment, but when you’re back home, or on the phone, regaling every detail to your friends enjoying laughing along with them as they find the funny side. And this is how I want my books to feel. A safe space to laugh about the day, a place to share in some of the funny things life can throw at you, and place to let someone else try out their bad ideas so you don’t have to.

Sister Switch is my first middle grade book, and I’ve loved writing for a slightly younger age range – in fact, having a world of magical body swapping mischief to escape to was the perfect distraction over the last year. Because I quickly learnt that once you’ve written about a body swap done by a mysterious hairdresser – the Hairy Godmother – then all rules are slightly off, meaning you can have even more fun than normal. So writing this book put a big smile on my face – and my hope is that readers can pick it up and get that same feeling too.

Sister Switch is published by Simon & Schuster and is available now from booksellers!

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