The Junie B. Jones book series is popular with new and emerging readers, largely due to the title character's spunky personality. Parents and teachers like the books because they present important character traits in an accessible manner.
Who Is Junie B. Jones?
The Junie B. Jones character was created by award-winning author Barbara Park. The series begins with Junie facing life in kindergarten. Despite being in print for over 20 years, Junie is still a first-grade student in 2019.
Junie B. Jones Character Traits
Her middle name is Beatrice, which she hates, so she shortens it to B. Junie is your average elementary school student, dealing with everyday dramas and obstacles. For example, Junie must cope with her fear of losing her first tooth, overcome her anxiety about the "stupid, smelly" school bus, and reach out to new friends. Unlike many children, Junie B. faces each and every obstacle with spunk and tenacity. Junie's character is a realistic child character with many traits such as:
- Uses poor grammar
About the Books
The Junie B. Jones books are early chapter books geared towards kids from kindergarten to third grade. Currently, there are 30 books available in the series, with many more planned. Books may be read in order, but each book can also stand on its own.
About the Author
Barbara Park created and wrote the Junie B. Jones books from 1992 until she died in 2013. She was originally from Mount Holly, New Jersey and wanted to be a high school history teacher before becoming an author. Barbara published more than 50 picture books and middle-grade books.
About the Illustrator
Denise Brunkus is a professional children's book illustrator who has made the pictures for more than 60 books. She has illustrated all the Junie B. Jones books.
Each book may have a slightly different reading level, but in general, the books fit these reading level measures:
- AR Levels - 2.6 to 3.1
- GLE Levels - 1.8 to 3.2
- F&P/GRL Level - M
- DRA Level - 24 to 30
- Lexile Measure - 330L to 560L
The entire book series is filled with a familiar cast of characters including Junie's family, friends, and teachers.
- Daddy - Robert "Bob" Jones is a fun, silly, loving dad to Junie.
- Mother - Susan Jones is Junie's overprotective mom.
- Ollie - Junie's baby brother.
- Grampa and Grandma Miller - Junie's grandparents who sometimes babysit her.
- Lucille - Junie's best friend in Kindergarten who is rich and a bit spoiled.
- Grace - Junie's best friend in Kindergarten who is athletic.
- Herb, Lennie, and Jose - Junie's best friends in First Grade.
- Jim - Junie's Kindergarten enemy.
- May - Junie's First Grade enemy.
Each reader finds the book that resonates most with them, but these are a few universal favorites:
- Junie B. Jones and that Meanie Jim's Birthday - Junie is upset as a kindergarten classmate fails to invite her to his birthday party.
- Junie B. Jones Cheater Pants - Junie copies another student's work and then must deal with the repercussions. Ultimately, Junie confesses to her teacher, thus teaching young readers the importance of honesty and integrity.
- Junie B. Jones One-Man Band - Junie's excitement over a kickball tournament is short-lived as a minor injury keeps her from playing. Never one to wallow long in self-pity, Junie puts on a half-time show.
Lessons Presented in the Books
At first glance, the Junie B. Jones books are simply about a plucky, smart-aleck child. On deeper reflection, however, the books have many valuable lessons for young kids. Kids can relate to Junie B. She isn't the smartest kid or the prettiest kid or even the most polite. She's just a normal, average girl. That, for many, is the appeal. Her problems are not monstrous, but they are monstrous to her. Lessons that are presented, however subtly, in the books, include:
Discussing Junie B. Jones
While June B. Jones books are excellent for kids' independent reading, they can be even better when accompanied by group discussion. As you read and discuss the books, ask open-ended questions to test your child's comprehension. Answering these types of questions also helps your child experiment with public speaking, storytelling, and logical thought. Some sample questions include:
- Why do you think she/he did that?
- How do you think that made her/him feel?
- Would you have done/said/felt that?
- What would you have done?
- Has that ever happened to you?
- What do you think will happen next?
Questionable Language Warning
Parents should note that some of Junie's language is objectionable to some families. For example, she regularly uses words and phrases like "Shut up" and "Stupid". This will be a turn-off for some parents, but many choose to use it as a learning opportunity. If this language is against your family rules, simply discuss this with your child. You can point out the objectionable language and ask your child to offer more appropriate alternatives.
Books as Teaching Tools
Whether you are a family wishing to incorporate Junie B. Jones in your homeschool curriculum or you want to use the books as a supplement to your child's existing education, the Junie B. Jones website can help. Complete teacher's guides are offered for each book when you sign up for the Teacher's Club. If you prefer to teach based on Junie B Jones' character traits, there is a helpful guide entitled "Build Character with Junie B."More in-depth planners are also included for classroom teachers.
Classroom Lesson Plan Tips
Each book tackles a different, yet common, problem faced by kids and features specific moral lessons. Use each book or the exercises presented in the book to shape your classroom lesson plans.
- Ask students to rewrite the ending of the story.
- Challenge groups or the whole class to devise a way to show good sportsmanship toward another group during gym or recess without actually playing the game as Junie did in One-Man Band.
- Allow students time to take pictures during the school day then share how the imperfections make them special when reading Aloha-ha-ha.
- Have students create word bubbles filled with the inappropriate language from the book. Kids can then lightly cross out each negative word or phrase and write above it a better word or phrase that could have been used.
- Provide both group and individual activities to go along with each book. For example, you could read it aloud together and discuss then send kids off to complete an assignment related to the storyline.
Building Character With a Book Character
Junie B. is not perfect and neither are most real kids her age. Books like these with flawed and realistic characters help kids learn about right and wrong, building their own character, and appropriate social interaction.