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Jenna Bush Hager explains why she let her 10-year-old read ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’

The TODAY co-host's eldest daughter has a new young adult beach read.
/ Source: TODAY

Jenna Bush Hager stands by her decision to allow her 10-year-old daughter to read young adult novels. She shared her reasoning with Hoda Kotb on TODAY March 28.

Earlier this month, the Jenna shared a photo of Mila and a friend reading the bestselling novel “The Summer I Turned Pretty” in side-by-side lounge chairs on the beach.

Jenna Bush Hager
Jenna Bush Hager's daughter Mila reads "The Summer I Turned Pretty" on the beach with a friend.@jennabhager via Instagram

According to Publisher’s Weekly, “The Summer I Turned Pretty” is about a 15-year-old girl named Isabel (nickname “Belly”) who spends the summer at a beach house and navigates her romantic feelings for more than one boy.”

The 2009 romance book, which is part of a trilogy, is also a streaming series on Amazon Prime Video and was recently renewed for a third season.

Jenna told Hoda about her very specific reasons for allowing Mila to read books that are designated for young adults.

“Conversations about sex have changed so much since we were little. Mila’s in fifth grade, and one of the things people have been surprised about is I let her ready this book series called ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’ by my queen Jenny Han, who is an incredible writer for young adults," explained Jenna. "[Mila] is obviously not a young adult. She's a kid."

Addressing the critics who seemed shocked that she would allow her daughter to read a YA book recommended, Jenna said, "First of all, I think everybody should just 'Do them.' But second of all, this is what I believe: I believe I would so much rather my kids learn about sex or drinking or whatever it is through books than through YouTube."

I would so much rather my kids learn about sex or drinking or whatever it is through books than through YouTube."

"Preach," Hoda responded.

"I would so much rather my kids read something and get to come to their mom's bedside and say, 'Hey Mom, I didn't quite get this,' and me be able to lead the conversation than her having 'influencers' do that for her," Jenna continued. "That's what I believe, and I'm the daughter of a librarian."

"For everybody who's worried about books and banning books and all that stuff," Hoda weighed in, "your children are getting a million times more 'stuff' that you might deem as 'inappropriate' ... "

" ... on the internet!" Jenna said, finishing Hoda's sentence. Allowing them to read books, however, can encourage "wonderful conversations."

Jenna cited Judy Blume, a featured author in the Read With Jenna book club for her iconic teen read "Summer Sisters," as her guidance for what to do in her own home.

"I know Mila. I know what's appropriate for her," she said, noting that what is appropriate for Mila may not be appropriate for everyone. "One of the things I've had the opportunity to talk to her about via this book is about sex. And it's so very different than when we were little, and the thing I say to her is, 'You are the chooser. If something doesn't feel right to you, don't do it.'"

In total agreement, Hoda asked, "Do you know how many kids who are now adults wished their mothers had had that conversation with them then? Because often, girls are pleasers. They do things that don't feel right because they don't want to upset someone or they don't want to rock the boat, or 'He's so cute,' or 'Everybody's doing it.'"

"Or the other end of the spectrum, where there's shame around it," Jenna said.

Turning to the camera, Jenna said, "Thank you, Jenny Han, for guiding my sex talks."