Jenna Bush Hager Explains How Reading With Her Three Children Has Helped Them Through Tough Times

Jenna Bush Hager poses on the red carpet at an event.
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Jenna Bush Hager says she grew up with a mother who gave her a love of reading books, and now she is passing on the tradition to her own family.

The Today show host said that her mother, first lady Laura Bush, made sure that Jenna and her sister were always surrounded with wonderful books. That helped Jenna to gain a lifelong love of reading that prompted her to start the Read With Jenna book club on the Today show last year and to make reading a priority in her own family.

In an interview with Parents magazine, Jenna opened up about some of her favorite books and the way reading has helped her to grow as a parent. Jenna explained that she has been building her own library of books to share with her three kids — 7-year-old Mila, 4-year-old Poppy, and 11-month-old Hal — and has been excited to pass along some of her own favorites to her kids.

“Sharing favorite books is one of the best parts of parenting,” Jenna said.

Jenna said that a number of children’s and young adult books have been important to her own life, including those from Roald Dahl and the Baby-Sitters Club series.

As Today noted, Jenna and her husband, Henry, have tried to fill their children’s lives with books that offer guidance through tough times. One of those was the book Nothing To See Here from author Kevin Nelson, an entry into Jenna’s book club last year. Jenna said that the book, which is about a pair of neglected twins who spontaneously self-combust, has been helpful to her and the way she approaches parenting.

“Weirdly, it also helped Henry and me reshape our perspectives on parenting. You realize that in the end, being a great parent isn’t about doing a million over-the-top things,” Jenna shared. “What kids need is our calm, steady presence. They just need to feel loved.”

Jenna’s not just reading to her children. The former first daughter said she remains a voracious reader herself and has found some books that are perfect for the current climate. She has also become a writer, penning Sisters First: Stories From Our Wild and Wonderful Life along with her own sister, Barbara Pierce Bush.

“The way women were talked about during the 2016 election was not what we saw reflected in our own lives and nothing we wanted girls to grow up with,” Jenna shared. “We wanted to write about women lifting each other up.”