Jumpstart’s New Summer Program Books

The regular school year may have ended, but the learning doesn’t need to stop there; Jumpstart’s summer program has begun! Summer program is 10 weeks long and prepares preschool children for success in kindergarten. Throughout the summer, children learn new vocabulary and grow their understanding of the world around them through small-group activities and individualized interactions. Jumpstart’s summer program also includes books and activities intended to support children’s social-emotional development, helping them learn how to understand and express the emotions they feel in themselves and see in others. While some Jumpstart sites partner with the same preschool centers year-round, many of the children served during the summer are new to Jumpstart.

This year, our Education & Research team created a new summer curriculum that includes a more diverse and inclusive set of storybooks. One of these books is also this year’s Read for the Record® campaign book — Maybe Something Beautiful! Below are some of the new titles that we’re using in Jumpstart’s summer program classrooms across the country.

Jabari Jumps

by Gaia Cornwall

This is one of our Education & Research team’s favorite books, and a perfect one to kick off the summer with, as the setting resonates with many children and communities. The central themes — conquering your fears and feeling pride after doing something hard for the first time — are also apt for children’s social-emotional development, especially as they are getting ready for the transition to kindergarten. The story follows young Jabari, who has finished his swimming lessons and wants to jump off the diving board. But when he stands at the ladder and looks up, he starts to feel afraid. With reassurance from his father, Jabari is encouraged to climb the ladder and jump into the pool!

Violet’s Music

written by Angela Johnson, illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith

Violet’s Music is a story about a girl who makes music by singing or using ordinary objects around her and her search for friends who love to make music as much as she does. We love the bright illustrations and upbeat sound words in this book. Stories about music are popular with children and Jumpstart volunteers, who often bring their own instruments and musical talents into the classroom. This book also reinforces the ideas of following your passions, staying true to yourself, and finding your place.

Bee-bim Bop!

written by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Ho Baek Lee

The little girl in this story is excited to help her mother prepare the Korean dish bibimbap (pronounced bee-bim bop) — she helps shop for the ingredients, prepare the meal, and set the table to enjoy this special dish with her whole family. Children love saying “bee-bim bop” and chiming in on the rhymes in this book. Bee-bim Bop! opens up great opportunities to learn and talk about children’s different cultural and family traditions around food and cooking.

An Extraordinary Egg

by Leo Lionni

Later in the summer, we discuss animals and learn how some animals protect the eggs they lay. An Extraordinary Egg is a story about three frogs who find something they think is a chicken egg and wait for it to hatch. Even though what emerges from the egg is scaly and four-legged, the frogs still believe their new friend is a chicken until it returns to its mother… who looks a lot like an alligator! Children like the humor in this book and the fact that they know something the characters don’t. The case of mistaken identity in this book is great for developing children’s theory of mind — the ability to understand that others might think and believe something different than you do — which is an important step in their overall social-emotional development.

Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match / Marisol McDonald No Combina

written by Monica Brown, illustrated by Sara Palacios

Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/Marisol McDonald No Combina, is a story about a little girl who has orange-red hair and nut-brown skin who prefers polka dots and stripes together. Even when others are confused by Marisol, she realizes how special it is to be true to herself. This book focuses on identity and individuality and really speaks to our diversity and inclusion efforts; we were excited to add the multiracial character Marisol — and our first bilingual book — to our curriculum. Marisol’s message of “not matching” helps show how diversity enriches our world and experiences. This book provides rich opportunities to start conversations about identity, difference, shades of skin color, and self-concept with children.

Together, we can help all children build the key language and literacy skills they need to take on the world.

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