Growing Reader

5 Books That Are Perfect for Your Junie B. Jones Fan

by Tom Burns

Barbara Park’s Junie B. Jones series is massively popular with beginning readers and it’s easy to see why. Junie B. (always remember the “B”) is confident, direct, and says all the things that a kindergartner or first grader wishes they could say. This is a girl who, on her very first day of school, hid in a supply closet, ran amok in the nurse’s office, and called 911 to help with a bathroom emergency, all to avoid taking the bus home (a story hilariously told in Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus). To steal one of her catchphrases, she’s the “bestest.”

If your emerging reader is a Junie B. addict, here are five other books they might love, all featuring similarly headstrong young women, who, like Junie B., would never ride a stupid, smelly bus without first giving you a piece of their mind.

  • Pippi Longstocking

    by Astrid Lindgren, illustrated by Lauren Child

    The original bad girl of children’s literature, Pippi is a Swedish national treasure and a perennial favorite for kids everywhere. Who wouldn’t want to live next door to the strongest girl in the world, the daughter of a sea captain who takes you on adventures with her pet horse, a monkey named Mr. Nilsson, and a suitcase filled with gold? She and Junie B. would become fast friends. (Or tear each other apart.)

  • Eloise

    by Kay Thompson, illustrated by Hilary Knight

    Like Junie B. Jones, the star of this 1955 classic introduces us to her life through her own (often-invented) words. She invites the reader to follow along with her as she completely overwhelms everything in her path at New York’s Plaza Hotel where she lives on the “tippy-top floor.” Your child will want their own Manhattan penthouse after meeting young Eloise.

  • The One and Only Marigold

    by Florence Parry Heide, illustrated by Jill McElmurry

    This underrated gem of a picture book features a young monkey girl who is steadfastly, unapologetically herself, no matter what her mother or sometimes best-friend Maxine might say. (She decides that her old purple coat is her #1 best friend. Maxine is #2, much to Maxine’s chagrin.) Heide’s stubbornly independent heroine is equal parts defiant and fiercely loyal – qualities that she definitely shares with Junie B.

  • Get Ready for Second Grade, Amber Brown

    by Paula Danziger, illustrated by Tony Ross

    Paula Danziger’s “A is for Amber Brown” books – a prequel series to her popular middle-grade novels – allow beginning readers to meet a young Amber back when she was Junie B. Jones’s age. In Get Ready for Second Grade, Amber negotiates her excitement and her anxieties about starting a new school year. While the Amber Brown early readers are more realistic and less comedic than the Junie B. books (her parents frequently argue), Amber and Junie are spiritual cousins who both aren’t afraid to tell their readers what’s really on their minds.

  • Lulu and the Brontosaurus

    by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Lane Smith

    Lulu might be a little more fanciful and ... sinister than some of the other girls on this list, but Junie B. would think she’s a hoot. Lulu tells us the story of how, after her parents refused to get her a brontosaurus for her birthday, she threw a 13-day tantrum and ran away from home, eventually meeting her ideal brontosaurus in the woods. The only problem is that he wants Lulu to be HIS pet and a battle of the wills ensues. Very funny, very perfect for fans of Junie B. Jones.

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