Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Bush Share Their Favorite Childhood Books
Hint, hint: One of them involves a boy named Max.
Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush come by their love of reading honestly.
Their mother, former First Lady Laura Bush, was a librarian; and their grandmother established the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.
"Barbara and I love to read," says Jenna. "Because I have this tiny little baby [son, Hal], I'm thinking about the genetic things we pass on, like eye color and hair color. But a love of reading was so part of our DNA too, just because we watched our parents read before they went to bed every night and they read to us constantly."
The former First Daughters released their new children's book, Sisters First, on November 12, and in honor of the occasion, Southern Living asked the pair to share their favorite childhood reads. Here's what they said.
"We loved Maurice Sendak: Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen are books of his that we read all the time," says Barbara. "In fact, when we were little, Max from Where the Wild Things Are became a character in our life that we loved to talk about. Those books are fun to reread now as an aunt and as a mom with our little people, as well."
Her sister agrees.
"Watching Mila read is the sweetest gift," says Jenna of her 6-year-old daughter. "I just finished Charlotte's Web with her last week, and we both wept. You think, ‘Oh, she's in first grade, is she going to get that Charlotte's dying?' And she did, and she was like, ‘I miss Charlotte!' It was such a sweet thing. We can all fall in love with characters, and that's what she did. She fell in love with these characters and books, and it was just such a beautiful thing to witness."
Next on the mother/daughter book list? Stuart Little. "Since we're on an E.B. White kick," says Jenna.
As for encouraging your own children to find joy in reading, Jenna says the secret is simple. "Find books about things that they're interested in and read to them," she says. "Barbara and I loved The Baby-Sitters Club, the whole series. They probably weren't the most poetic of all books, but it was something that interested us. I'll never forget Mary Anne vs. Logan!"
You'll likely recognize some of these reads from a years-old school syllabus or a forgotten summer reading list. But even if you don't, consider this your book bucket list--no book report required.