Joke books offer laughs—and help to families struggling with medical bills

Little Book Big Laughs joke books
Proceeds of the United HealthCare Children’s Foundation books provide financial assistance to families of children struggling with illness. Books courtesy of United HealthCare Children’s Foundation.

What do you call a thief that steals only meat? A hamburglar.

If that joke brought a smile to your lips, read on: A series of joke books with more laughs like this one was compiled from entries by children who want to help other kids struggling with illnesses and other difficulties.

Sales from the “Little Book Big Laughs” book series—which includes a joke book, riddle book and knock-knock joke book—along with two children’s books in the “Oliver & Hope” series, benefit the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation. UHCCF provides grants to help families pay for children’s medical expenses that are not covered—or not fully covered—by parents’ health insurance plans.

joke books
Mezmari Owens (12), of Phoenix, submitted a joke for the joke book series. Photo courtesy of Latoya Owens.

Twelve-year-old Mezmari Owens, a Phoenix resident and seventh grader at Laird Elementary School in Tempe, was one of two children from Arizona whose joke was included in the books. Her mother, Latoya, who works for UnitedHealthcare, says she heard about the contest at work and asked her daughter if she wanted to submit a joke.

When Mezmari’s joke—“Why did the melon jump into the water? Because he wanted to be a watermelon”—was chosen, Owens says her daughter “was grinning from ear to ear and hasn’t stopped smiling since.”

Mezmari says her teachers “were proud” and told her that she’s “going be a writer someday.” She loves that the joke books are helping other children.

While the books may be lighthearted and fun, the financial problems they help address are no laughing matter. Grants partially funded through sales of the joke books pay for medical services for thousands of children. Since 2007, UHCCF has awarded more than $29 million in grants to families across the U.S. who don’t have enough money to pay for all the costs associated with a child’s medical needs. In addition to medical services, the money can be used for medical equipment, counseling, prescriptions, wheelchairs, orthotics, eyeglasses and hearing aids.

Kristen Hellmer, director of public relations with UnitedHealthcare, stresses that the grants are not just for families with UnitedHealthcare insurance: “It does not matter what type of healthcare [insurance] you have…you can apply.”

Regional boards review grant requests. Families that meet the criteria can be awarded a grant of up to $5,000. From 2011 through 2014, nearly $500,000 in grants has been approved in Arizona.

Where to find the books

The books include more than 350 knock-knock jokes, 500 riddles and 600 jokes—all submitted by kids, for kids. They are ideal for kids ages 4 to 12 but can be enjoyed by all ages.

The books are available on Amazon for $5.99 each or on the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation website. “Oliver and Hope” books sell for $16.95.

Does your little one know “Which monster is the best dancer?” Find it (the boogie monster) in a “Little Book Big Laughs” joke book. And you’ll be doing something good for children and families who could use a helping hand.