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Read With Jenna has a new mission for this summer: Making summer reading for kids fun. On TODAY on Tuesday, Jenna announced Read With Jenna Jr., a new initiative targeted at younger readers.
The announcement was accompanied by 27 book picks, divided into three different age groups. Picture books include classics like “Goodnight Moon” and “Junie B. Jones,” as well as new releases and soon-to-be-favorites. Young adults, on the other hand, can join the ranks of all the readers who read and loved Betty Smith's 1941 novel "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," and be equally moved by Sabaa Tahir's "All My Rage," published in 2022.
Below, find Read With Jenna Jr.’s complete book list.
Picture Books – Ages 4-8
A staple in any young reader’s library, "Goodnight Moon" is sure to become heavily used in the bedtime story rotation (if it isn’t already).
How do toys become real? "The Velveteen Rabbit" has companions in the nursery, but longs for a different, more immediate kind of existence.
A summer day in the city, captured in bouncing, buoyant prose and joyous illustrations from two legends in children's book publishing.
Nigel can tell the moon his deepest dreams but doesn’t have the same courage when it comes to the people in his life. This debut children's book is about finding he courage to give your dream's voice.
Written to empower and inspire, “I’m Growing Great” features Black and brown girls paired with affirmations. Parents and kids alike may experience a mood boost while reading this out loud.
The message of this subtle and moving picture book? It doesn't matter what you do, so long as you remain in the moment and enjoy each other’s company.
In this whimsical children’s book, a girl named Lizzy befriends a cloud and carries him around. But soon, the the cloud grows and grows, bigger than she can handle on her own.
A laugh-out-loud funny foray into space featuring a cat, a toenail-clipping robot and 320 pages of hijinks.
The creator of "Captain Underpants" introduces this meta story — a series of graphic novels within a graphic novel. Your little one might be inspired to create his or her own illustrated story as a summer project.
His friends and family call him Portico Reeves — but in his heart, he's Stuntboy, a superhero. Portico's costume keeps him focused on a mission and distracted from the fighting at home.
Get absorbed into the vibrant Vanderbeeker family as they fight to save the brownstone they've called home for generations.
Francine and Maureen Carter start the book inseparable. But upon entering middle school, the twins naturally lean into their differences and wonder how the changes will affect their relationship.
Sophia's father was lost at sea. She feels closest to him at Aqualand, the theme park he created with his brother. Then an "aquanaut" shows up in the theme park's lab – which turns out to be marine creatures in disguise, on a mission to save the park.
Middle Grade – Ages 8-12
Meet Junie B. Jones, the somewhat grumpy but totally endearing elementary schooler who has been charming readers for decades.
Recently turned into a movie, the Bad Guys series focuses on a bunch of, well, bad guys — who are striving to be good.
Jacqueline Woodson came of age in New York and South Carolina, between worlds. The acclaimed author tells her coming-of-age story in eloquent verse, always getting to the heart of the matter. The memoir won the National Book Award, a Newbery Honor and the Coretta Scott King Award.
Winner of the Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award, this historical fiction novel follows Bud, a 10-year-old on his own in Flint, Michigan in the middle of the Great Depression. He has two things guiding him in his mission to find his father: A few clues left by his late mother, and his resilient attitude.
Legendary children’s book author Kate DiCamillo, the writer behind “Because of Winn-Dixie," wrote a trilogy about three best friends and the individual journeys that made them who they are.
Dhonielle Clayton’s middle-grade debut makes the case for school being more fun if there’s magic involved — and if it’s in the actual sky. Ella, 11, is the first Conjurer to attend the Arcanum Training Institute for Marvelous and Uncanny Endeavors. Her classmates are suspicious of her magic, which is connected to the Underworld. She learns to accept herself as she harness her abilities.
If your little one has seen “The Little Mermaid” more times than they can count, they’re likely to be transfixed by this Caribbean folklore-inspired tale. Though a warning: Ophidia, the mermaid in question, is less friendly than Ariel. When Kela finds her comb washed ashore, Ophidia has to grant her a wish, even though she’s resentful of the human world. Kela, grieving her mom, wants one thing above all: her mom back.
Two best friends and basketball players vow to cheer each other on in their first year of middle school, because with stressors at home and in school, they know they can’t go through it alone.
Mallory Moss is intrigued by her new neighbor, Jennifer Chan — the way she shirks the middle school hierarchy and does her own thing. When Jennifer goes missing, Mallory tries to find her using her journals and the clues she left behind.
Each installment in these horror novels offers a new spine-chilling adventure. Yes, they'll give young readers goosebumps, and also permission to use their imagination to the fullest.
Young Adult - Ages 13 and up
R. Eric Thomas’ book of essays, “Here For It,” was chosen as a Read With Jenna pick. Thomas applies his one-of-a-kind comedic sensibility, blending wit and verbal prowess and obscure pop culture references, to this YA novel about two Black queer besties on one epic day off..
Betty Smith’s classic novel was written in 1943 but its principles of growing up with the help of, and in spite of, your parents’ guidance will ring true to modern adolescents. Francie Nolan is born in the slums of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where life is hard, but that doesn’t harden all its residents. Smith’s semi-autobiographical novel is full of memorable, live-in characters and a bittersweet story of resilience; honoring your roots while outgrowing them.
Sabaa Tahir, known for her “Ember in the Ashes” YA series, wrote this gut-wrenching 2022 novel, where the joy that exists is sweeter for its contrast with the book’s difficult moments (and there are a few). The decades-spanning book takes place in a small town in the California desert, where a Pakistani American family owns and operates a motel.
Esperanza Cordero’s voice powers this novel, which first came out in 1991. She sees a future beyond the Chicago neighborhood in which she was born.