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Sisters First

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Sisters First Book Poster Image
Sweet, spunky celebration of sister love.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Describes what's special about being sisters.

Positive Messages

It takes patience to wait for your baby sister to grow up enough to play with you. In good times and bad, "we are sisters first." "With you by my side, I'm braver than before. / You love me for me and hold my hand when unsure. / Monsters are still scary, and I still fall down, but your / sweet, loving presence turns my bad days around."

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character/narrator is kind, loving, and respects and takes care of her little sister. The little one is a nice playmate. The other two pairs of sisters add diversity to the story: one pair has brown skin and hair; the other, the older sister is White and the younger one is Black.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sisters First is a picture book by twins Jenna Bush Hager, known as a Today show co-host, and Barbara Pierce Bush, co-founder of Global Heath Corps. They are the daughters of former U.S. president George W. Bush. This charmingly illustrated, rhyming picture book bears the same title as their bestselling 2017 memoir for adults, Sisters First, but that one has a subtitle: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life. The main characters in this book aren't twins but rather an older and younger sister. It shows the older one's patience in watching her sister grow from baby to playmate and friend. Two other sister pairs appear, too. One pair has brown skin and hair, and in the other pair, the older sister is White and the younger one is Black.

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What's the story?

As SISTERS FIRST begins, the main character and narrator has no siblings, feels lonely, and wishes and prays for a sister: "Please make us kind, with enormous hearts, / clever too, and very smart. / With soft hands to hold and arms to hug, / and gentle eyes that show deep love." She gets her wish and the baby arrives. She's a little disappointed at first: "You cried and you ate, but not much more. / (My new baby sister was a bit of a snore.)" But she remembers her prayer and realizes: "If kindness was what I was asking of you, / I needed to be kind and patient, too." In time, they become playmates and rely on each other for comfort and imaginative free play. Two other pairs of sisters are shown doing things together, too, both real (making pickles dipped in sprinkles) and in fantasy (flying hot air balloons, tap dancing in the clouds, being cat pirates on the sea and mermaids riding alligators).  

Is it any good?

With cute art and clever rhymes, this loving look at sisterhood is both spunky and sweet in describing what's meaningful about this special bond. "Sisters are partners (mainly in crime), / We play tricks on our parents / and sneak treats at bedtime." And having two other sister pairs in the mix adds fun and diversity.

Sisters First is lively, imaginative, and full of positive messages, including the final couplet of the main character's prayer: "And through many days, the best and the worst, / help us remember we are sisters first."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the girls in Sisters First. What's it like to be an older sister? What's it like to be the younger one? 

  • Do you have a sister? What's she like? If you don't have a sister, do you wish you did, like the girl in the Sisters First does at the beginning? 

  • What does the big sister mean when she says "we are sisters first"? 

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