5 Life Lessons Learned from Barbara Park's Junie B. Jones Books

Categories: Literary

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Shardayyy via Flickr
Barbara Park, author of the Junie B. Jones book series, died Friday after a long battle with ovarian cancer.
We blame Junie B. Jones for the way we ended up. At least a little. As kids, we shamelessly admired her unwavering opinions, trouble-making ways, and complete lack of hesitation for name-calling. To put it simply: She's our favorite brat. Always has been; always will be.

Barbara Park, the author of the beloved book series, died at age 66 on Friday, November 15, at her home in Scottsdale, after a fight with ovarian cancer. In her memory, we're looking back at some of the life lessons we learned from Junie B. Jones.

See also: 10 Books Every Arizonan Should Read

Grammar isn't everything.

At six years old, we certainly hadn't perfected the nuances of the English language -- and it shouldn't come as a surprise that Junie B. Jones hadn't either. Of course that didn't stop some parents from maligning the books for their improper object pronouns and possesives.

But so what if our favorite kindergartner didn't understand the irregular past tense verbs and that adverbs should almost always end in -ly? If nothing else, her improper language gave us a chance to hear and read the differences between good and bad grammar. Parents, look at is as a teaching opportunity. And thanks to Junie B., we learned that what truly matters is being the bestest person on the inside.

Appreciate little things in life.

When we pick up a Junie B. Jones book these days (because we're babysitting or, you know, cleaning out our closet or something), it's like stepping back into the mind of child. Anything from a great idea popping into her head ("right out of thin hair!") to a smile from Ricardo makes Junie B. grin. It's a good reminder to stop and appreciate the little things once again. As Park wrote in Junie B., First Grader: Shipwrecked, even just "a little glitter can turn your whole day around."

Love can be found where you least expect it.

Oh, did you think children's books couldn't teach you anything about love? Well, you're wrong, because we learned an important lesson from Junie B. and Jim. The two hate each other for nearly all of kindergarten, until Junie B. receives a mushy Valentine from a secret admirer. Of course, it turns out to be from Jim, who tells her she makes the room "sparkly." That still might be the best compliment we've ever heard. To be fair, their budding romance never really gets resolved, but has forever instilled in us a hope that love can be found in the least obvious of places -- and people.

Age is just a number.

Junie B., a perpetual 6-year-old, has never stopped bringing out our inner child. Park once said in an interview that she believed adults and kids aren't all that different. We know it's true, because we can still identity with Junie B.'s emotional frustrations. In Park's own words, "For some of us 'grownups,' the hardest thing about being an adult is the pressure of always having to act like one."

Above all, be true to you.

"My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all," says Junie B. And don't even think about calling her just Junie Jones. That's how she started her rivalry with Meg, who refuses to to say the "B" in her name. It may be a small thing (and okay, we'll admit, a silly one) but we respect Junie B. for sticking to her guns. From the very beginning, Junie B. knows who she is, what she wants to be called, and she isn't afraid to say it.

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