First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom Launches Summer Book Club with California State Library and First 5

California families are invited to join the First Partner for virtual storytimes, participate in their local libraries’ summer reading programs 

SACRAMENTO – California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom today announced the First Partner’s Summer Book Club, a new 10-week initiative to promote children’s literacy and participation in summer reading programs hosted by local libraries throughout the state. Launching on June 7 in partnership with the California State Library, the First 5 Association of California, and First 5 California, the First Partner’s Summer Book Club will feature books that teach kids important social and emotional learning tools and highlight key values like diversity, self-love and acceptance.

“Summer reading programs are crucial tools to keep our children engaged and help unlock their curiosity and passion for learning,” said First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom. “Through these fun, free summer activities, entire families can build community connections, while children establish a solid foundation for the next academic year.”

The booklist curated by the First Partner features 23 books for children ages 3-12, including:

  • Eyes That Kiss in the Corner: a New York Times Bestseller whose young protagonist notices things she has in common with her mother, sister, and amah, and sees her beauty reflected in those connections.
  • Outside Inside: a book exploring the changes the world experienced during COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, both outside and inside.
  • Laxmi’s Mooch: an endearing story about a girl named Laxmi who learns to accept her body hair and celebrate her heritage as both special and normal.

“Becoming a stronger reader is the best way for someone to succeed – in school, at work and in life. California’s First Partner knows that and we’re lucky to have her spending part of her summer sharing stories and great books with California readers – particularly younger ones,” said California State Librarian Greg Lucas.

A book reading by the First Partner or a special guest will go live every Monday on California Governor Gavin Newsom’s YouTube Channel, starting on June 7. All families can participate in this virtual storytime, as well as free summer reading programs hosted by their local libraries. Children who watch a First Partner’s Summer Book Club storytime or read a book from the First Partner’s booklist will be awarded a First Partner’s Summer Book Club badge through their local library’s summer reading program. The California State Library is funding a bookshelf of books from the First Partner’s Summer Book Club list for every library. Other public library summer reading programs can include virtual or in-person STEM activities, and arts and crafts.

“When we read with young children, we encourage healthy brain development and lifelong learning,” said Melissa Stafford Jones, Executive Director of First 5 Association of California. “The First Partner’s Summer Book Club will connect families and child care providers to great books and activities that support early literacy and school readiness for young children, and promote loving attachments that boost social-emotional wellbeing.”

Working with the First Partner and California State Library, the First 5 Association of California and First 5 California will promote the First Partner’s Summer Book club with their network of child care providers and families throughout the state. Summer reading helps younger children build a solid foundation for literacy and ensures that older children retain what they learned in the previous academic year, preventing learning loss known as “summer slide.” Studies show that students who participate in summer reading programs have better reading skills at the end of third grade and score higher on standardized tests than students who don’t participate.

“First 5 California launched its Talk. Read. Sing.® campaign based on the social equity imperative that every parent needs and deserves the facts about early brain science in young children,” said Camille Maben, First 5 California Executive Director. “Talking, reading, and singing to young children helps to foster curiosity, deepen imagination, and increase brain development exponentially, providing fundamental building blocks for bright futures. The First Partner’s Summer Book Club is a wonderful opportunity to facilitate this development – engaging children and the loving adults in their life in a good book, and instilling a lifelong love of reading in our youngest Californians in the process.”

For more information about the First Partner’s Summer Book Club, visit: