No joke: Salem third-grader will have jokes published in 3 books

Union Leader Correspondent
September 06. 2017 10:22PM
Salem third-grader Caitlyn Irwin, 8, shows off the three joke books published by the UnitedHealthcare Children's Foundation on Wednesday. She had a total of six jokes in the three books, the most of any child in New Hampshire. (CHRIS GAROFOLO/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

SALEM — Budding comedian Caitlyn Irwin of Salem doesn’t just have one joke published at the tender age of eight. She has six.

Caitlyn, a third-grader at Mary K. Fisk Elementary School, has a half-dozen of her favorite, homespun wisecracks and “knock-knock” jokes in a trio of books from the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation. The series is designed to bring some laughter to youngsters while raising money to help families defray mounting medical expenses that are not covered by a commercial health insurance plan.

“I felt happy,” Caitlyn said on Wednesday. The best part of having them in the book is so “other children can hear them,” she added.

Hundreds of children nationwide submitted one-liners, comical yarns and knee-slappers for the foundation’s joke books. Caitlyn has two jokes in each of the three books, titled “Cool Jokes for Summer,” “Sweets, Treats & Eats Jokes” and “Holiday, Celebration & Birthday Jokes.”

The joke books were released in September — all are available on Amazon for $5.99 each – to coincide with National Literacy Month.

“The joke books are a great way for kids to help other kids,” said Will Holman, director of communications for UnitedHealthcare. “We’re also hoping the joke books will increase awareness of the foundation’s child medical grant program so more families apply and receive grants.”

Caitlyn, smiling in her gray kitten- and rainbow-filled dress, proves laughter is sometimes the best medicine.

“I think they might laugh,” she said, referring to other children who read her jokes.

Her mother, Sherry Irwin, said Caitlyn loves to make people laugh. And while a good rib-tickler or knock-knock joke is important, Irwin said her daughter also loves that these books are helping other children.

“She loves that it’s helping other kids,” Irwin said. “She’s one of those kids that likes to help — she’ll look for somebody that needs help. She always tries to be there for her friends too.”

Caitlyn’s inspiration for jokes comes from all corners. She turned a taco sticker she received from a teacher into a joke. Another came from a Girl Scout cookie.

“We’re so excited for her; she is very excited. It’s not something every kid can say later on, that they had something of theirs published or they were able to do something to help others, with the proceeds going to the children’s foundation,” Irwin said, adding her favorite Caitlyn joke appears in the “Holiday, Celebration & Birthday Jokes” book.

“What’s a reindeer’s favorite dance?” Caitlyn asks. “The doe-si-doe!”

Each paperback has roughly 300 jokes over about 80 pages, with the summertime book tallying more than 400 in 112 pages. Caitlyn had the most jokes published of any child in New Hampshire; in fact, she was the only one in the Granite State with more than one joke in the books.

But comedy is just one of Caitlyn’s future plans. She also wants to be a singer, a professional ice skater and own a restaurant someday.

“She has a lot of plans, I don’t know how she’s going to fit it all in,” Irwin said. “I hope she keeps writing … I love reading the little stories she comes up with, so hopefully she keeps it up.”

The foundation released its first joke book in 2014. The publication was so successful two more were sold the following year.

All proceeds from the books will go toward the foundation’s child medical grants of up to $5,000 annually per child 16 years or younger, or $10,000 lifetime maximum per patient. Families do not need insurance with UnitedHealthcare to be eligible. 

More than 14,000 grants valued at over $37 million has been awarded over the past decade.

“Many families in New Hampshire aren’t aware of the grant program, and the fact that — if eligible — they can receive up to $5,000 per grant for child medical expenses,” Holman said. Families are encouraged to apply for a grant at, he added.

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