Princess Books for all ages

Princess Books for all ages

You may think wholesome princess books for all ages are those with clean, rated-G content, but we are adding to that by putting some additional qualifiers for this list. We are recommending princess books that you can use to teach good themes or characteristics to your princess lovers.

If you haven’t listened yet, head on over to our interview with Dr. Sarah Coyne, professor of human development at Brigham Young University. We talk about books that include some of your children’s (and maybe even  yours as welll!) favorite characters and how they can be powerful tools in conversations about some really great life lessons.

We divided our list by age categories in order to cover anyone in your family who dreams big and just might have a penchant for the royal side of life.

Picture Books

Once Upon a World (series) by Chloe Perkins and Hannah Eliot (multicultural) pictured here is The Little Mermaid

This set of board books are classic fairy tales that we are all familiar with, but set in different cultures from around the world, giving fresh breath to our list of wholesome princess books in what tends to be a very anglo-centric background for many books retelling the classic princess tales. The illustrations are divine and done by artists from the country or culture each story is set in. 

Talking points: What differences and similarities of the Princesses and their cultures to you and your family did you see?

Princess Furball by Anita Lobel

While most recognize this as one of many versions of Cinderella that have gone through time, there are elements of several different fairy tales in it. Even as a kid, I loved chatting about the differences and similarities of this version with the versions we were more familiar with (coughDisneycough). While I love updated versions of classic fairy tales, sometimes there is just as much merit in exploring the folk and fairy tales of old that inspired the versions we know and love.

Talking points: Historicity of fairy/folk tales; where do historical fairy/folk tales come from?

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch is a classic for a reason. We love that there is Paper Bag Princess Day (March 7th) to celebrate, too. This one appears on many a list, but we couldn’t leave it off our own wholesome princess books list.

After a dragon burns down her castle with everything she owns in it and then kidnaps her betrothed prince for a snack, Princess Elizabeth calmly puts on the only thing she has left- a paper bag- and goes about outsmarting the dragon and rescuing the prince.

Talking points: How did Elizabeth feel about the prince at the end of the story vs the beginning of the story?

Olivia and the Fairy Princesses by Ian Falconer

The Olivia books are delightful, and while my (Jill’s) kids definitely do not pick up on the subtle humor in them yet, I certainly do. In this one, Olivia, the pig many of us know and love, experiences pink princess fatigue and considers some other options when dressing up, reading stories and dreaming of what to be when she grows up. 

Talking points: Why did Olivia not want to be a princess? Who was it that came up with all of the alternatives to playing/being a princess? 

Tangled Rapunzel’s Journal: Letting Down my Hair is an example of how diverse the Disney princess book collection really is. This is written as if it were Rapunzel’s scrapbook or picture journal. It gives more background to Rapunzel as a person and what her life was like before she left her tower. Amanda uses this to teach about journaling and family history work, art as therapy, the concept of bullet journals, art as a form of expression, various kinds of list making, and more. The song in Tangled about “wondering when will my life begin” is a deeper topic that could be discussed with this book, and why Rapunzel felt the need to follow her dreams and leave the tower in the first place.

Talking Points: What would you write in your journal? What do you think Rapunzel means when she sings “when will my life begin?” Do you think Rapunzel is happy when she is in the tower?

Falling for Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox

This is one of those re-imagined fairy tales we mentioned earlier. A series of misheard requests from the prince to Rapunzel in her town humorously leads to confusion and then happiness for all in the end…although not in the way you might expect! Full of rhymes, this one is a delightfully light-hearted option as a wholesome princess books.

Talking points: This one is honestly a great one to simply enjoy the story with the kids. It is such a clever retelling of the story and can lead to chats about how it differs from the original, if your family is familiar with that, as well.

Sleeping Ugly by Jane Yolen

As the longest picture book on our list, this one has plenty of material for starting conversations with your kids. While this is a version of Sleeping Beauty, as you might have guessed, the focu of the story is mainly about how a beautiful princess can be ugly on the inside and a plain girl can be beautiful. 

Talking points: What are some of the things that make Miserella ugly on the inside throughout the story? What makes Plain Jane beautiful on the inside?

What is a Princess from the Step Into Reading series is a great book to illustrate what Dr. Coyne says throughout our interview with her.

This book can be a powerful tool to help encourage your reluctant child to read because of the familiar faces. As a parent you can leave it at that, which is great and there are other Disney princess Step Into Reading books as well, but there are several conversation starters here if you want as well. The idea that a princess is pretty is front and center to talk about. This can be really important given the age these books are geared toward.

Talking points: What does a princess actually do (is it hard work?) Do princesses have to look a certain way? What makes a person beautiful?

Juvenile Fiction

Hamster Princess (series) by Ursula Vernon

With six books in the series so far, there is plenty of Princess Harriet Hamsterbone for everyone. She is another princess who takes her fate into her own hands (paws?) and now rides her trusty quail through fairy tale after fairy tale, rodent style.

I (Jill) have only listened to the audiobooks with my older daughter, but the books are apparently graphic-hybrid novels, which…I now want to know what that means. It is an interesting one to me, as well, because while Harriet has many traits that I want my girls to emulate someday, she is also not perfect and has many qualities that I don’t want my girls to emulate, which is a great point to start conversations with.

Talking points: Harriet Hamster is a great character, but certainly not perfect. What are some things that you like about Harriet and what are some things that she could work on?

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

I (Jill) am such a big fan of Kate DiCamillo and her books that I dream of meeting her one day, so my recommendation may be a bit bias, but I feel like her books are becoming classics for a reason. Despereaux is one of her most well known ones (enough that it has a movie version), but is still well worth reading if you haven’t gotten to it yet. While it takes place in a castle and includes many characters you would expect (king, queen, princess…), we follow the story of the mouse who had the moxy to go and fall in love with said princess. 

Talking points: A big theme of the book is redemption and forgiveness and so many of the characters’ stories can open up conversations about reactions when we go through hard or painful experiences.

The Royal Diaries (series) by various (multicultural) Elizabeth I pictured here

My (Jill) sisters and I devoured this series when we were younger. My love of history started early and I loved this series that focused on the women of history. Written as the diaries kept by royal women from all over the world, usually in their pre-teen and teenage years. While these certainly aren’t going to be 100% historically accurate, they definitely piqued my interest in a lot of women and areas of the world that I hadn’t been interested in or even knew existed before I read these books! 

Talking points: These are great books to talk to a budding historian or history buff on the difference between historical fiction vs. academic history.  Where do these books fit in? What are the merits and the limitations of historical fiction?

Princess in Black by Shannon Hale

The Princess in Black series is amazing, because the protagonist, Princess Magnolia, is both a princess AND a superhero! The series was born when one of Hale’s young daughters insisted that, “princess don’t wear black” and Hale decided to prove her wrong. We are so glad she did, because the result, these books, are amazing!

Talking points: Stereotypes, secret identities and having multiple roles, responsibility, helpfulness.

Disney Princess Beginnings (series) Belle’s Discovery pictured here is everything your 4th grader+ would want, and everything you would want for her/him in a wholesome princess book.

These books have great illustrations to accompany the Disney princesses in their childhoods. Each book focuses on worthwhile lessons while staying true to the characters in the beloved movies. It particularly helps to give some deeper perspective to the princesses from the oldest movies. Great for reading aloud to get your family talking about who these princesses really are – because they are so much more than a pretty face.

Talking points: What do you want to be like when you grow up? If someone made a movie about you, what would you want it to be like? What did (character) do when they were younger that helped them become who they are in the movie?

Tangled- The Story of Rapunzel is a great example to have on this list for a way to slow down a princess movie and talk about what’s happening.

These books follow the movie script, so it isn’t confusing, and makes it easy to pause and discuss what you would like to focus on in your family. Over the course of reading this particular book, Amanda’s family defined and discussed optimism, talked about how different people have different personalities, what is right and wrong, how to right your wrongs, selfishness, vanity, hope, and more.

Talking points: Take any of the princess movies your child loves, and dissect it. After selecting what you want to talk about, choose one or two to start with and read the book together! Here’s another post to go in depth about this.

Graphic Novels

Jasmine’s New Pet is a great introduction to graphic novels. There is a bit of a learning process to reading comics and graphic novels, and this book helps ease young children into the concept of frames, sequencing, etc. Amanda was reading Calvin and Hobbes with her 5-year-old, who enjoys the comics themselves (though the humor is often far above her head), but realized she would benefit from something just like this graphic novel. The book itself focuses on Rajah, which is fun. Themes to focus on include the problem solving process.

Talking points: What problems have you solved today, and how did you do it? Can you help me solve this problem I have? Ask the child to place their finger on the frames as you read through the book.

Diana Princess of the Amazons by Shannon Hale

We know, we know. Shannon Hale again. But, yes. Shannon Hale AGAIN. She knocks wholesome princess books of all kinds out of the park, and this graphic novel is no exception. Diana before she is Wonder Woman has lots of growing-up problems to solve. A particularly good theme to discuss with this book is healthy friendships and solving problems you have with your friends.

Talking points: What does being a good friend mean? What is forgiveness? Have you ever apologized to someone and not really meant it? Is it easy to say you’re sorry? What is jealousy?

Mega Princess (series) written by Kelly Thompson

This series can help jumpstart conversations about the roles you were born into and whether or not they are good. It also includes underlying themes of gratitude, problem-solving as a team, keeping an open mind, thinking through things. Mega Princess is also included in Michelle’s list of graphic novels over at The Book Report, so be sure to look there for more graphic novel reading ideas.

The Courageous Princess: Beyond the Hundred Kindgoms (trilogy) by Rod Espinosa

This trilogy has one particular aspect that stands out in a princess book: the heroine saves herself when she is captured. Things you can point out to your little princess include biracial families, what true love is, grit/persistence, and prayer.

Princeless: Save Yourself (series) written by Jeremy Whitley

The princess saves herself again in this one! This book may be best suited to talk about gender roles and princess stereotypes, especially when keeping in mind how the males are portrayed. Where the protagonist defies typical princess roles, the men fit the generic mold and her twin brother behaves how one would expect a typical princess (or at least female) to behave when conforming to gender roles. Race is also a discussion point, as well as actually business ethics and ethics/integrity generally.

Talking points: What are gender roles? What is a stereotype? What is feminism? How do expectations affect people? What is rasism?

Princess Books – YA

The Lunar Chronicles (series) by Marissa Meyer is a popular series that well deserves the acclaim, in our opinions. If anyone could write a book about cyborgs, androids and fairy tale characters — while managing to keep Amanda hooked all the way through, it is Marissa Meyer. This series is a great one for your teen or your adult self, and our list of wholesome princess books wouldn’t be complete without it.

Talking points: Perhaps one of the most obvious themes weaving through the books is discrimination. Others include redemption, judgement, leadership, government structure and international relations, power and seeking power, and even into healthcare.

Enchanted Forest Chronicles (series) Dealing with Dragons pictured here by Patricia C. Wrede

This is a series of fantasy books written in the early 90s, but they are still delightful today. They follow Princess Cimorene, who never quite got on board with the life of a princess and ends up offering her services to a dragon when her parents try to betroth her to a prince. There are many nods and winks to some more traditional princess stories, but Cimorene’s journey is a new and unique one.

Talking points: While Cimorene is a great character to chat about, the dragons themselves are very vibrant and nuanced characters in this story. What do all the different dragons add to the story? Which dragons do you relate to? Which ones would you be willing to be captured by? Why?

Unicorns of Balinor (series) by Mary Stanton

This is one that neither of us have read (yet), but was recommended to us by so many trusted friends when we started asking around about favorite princess books that we couldn’t not include it! It has everything! Princesses! Unicorns! Magical worlds! A collie dog!

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine may be the one, single book that both Jill and Amanda would recommend you read this very instant if you haven’t already. And if you have, we would like to heartily encourage you to read it again. And again. And again. This spin on a Cinderella story is full of great things, most notable being the fantastic main character: a strong female lead who is independent, funny, smart, and flawed in ways that make her approachable and human. In short, this is everything you’d want in your library of wholesome princess books.

Talking points: What would your life be like if you had to be obedient? Is it easy or hard for you to keep secrets? Did you guess how the curse would be broken? Would Ella make a good queen, why/why not? Are there still finishing schools – would you want to go to one?

Shannon Hale (author) (Goose Girl pictured here, Princess Academy, Ever After High)

Shannon Hale is an amazingly versatile author (not many authors can navigate writing graphic novels, juvenile fiction, Young Adult fiction AND adult fiction quite as seamlessly as she does!) and many of her books, such has her Goose Girl, Princess Academy and Ever After High series will be perfect for anyone looking for a well-written, unique princess story. 

Talking points: She has so many books that you can start pretty much any sort of conversation you want using her stories! Hale writes some very solid female protagonists with many characteristics well worth emulating and well worth exploring in discussions.

Robin McKinley (author) pictured here is Beauty

Beauty may be McKinley’s most well-known work, but she wrote another retelling of Beauty and the Beast 20 years later called Rose Daughter. Another directly related princess tale is her retelling of Sleeping Beauty, called Spindle’s End. Each book is expertly written and equally enchanting.

Talking points: Rose Daughter is slightly more mature (though still clean) and is great to talk about emotions and symbolism, and obsession. All three books are good for talking about the nature of love, if “instalove” is possible, or what it takes to have a good relationship with your significant other. Kindness is a strong theme as well. What does it mean to be kind-hearted? Is there a difference between being kind or being nice? Is it worthwhile to be kind?

The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal

This book is grouped with Ella Enchanted and Goose Girl by Janssen Bradshaw from Everyday Reading. We need no more recommendation than that! Janssen mentions in her review that the main character, Sinda, isn’t overly perfect. She is normal, makes mistakes – she’s human. In a world of perfectly primped princesses in all forms of media, this is a great topic to discuss.

Melanie Cellier (author) pictured is a Dance of Silver and Shadow from Beyond the Four Kingdoms (series)

There’s no shortage of fairytale princess books in the multiple series written by Melanie Cellier. These are very new to the world of audiobooks (produced in 2019-2020), so you may need to ask your library for them if you’re looking for them on Libby. Cellier weaves the most popular princess stories together with ease, creating a very regal and enticing tapestry. They are clean, wholesome princess books, and give depth to the characters many may only seen on the big screen.

Talking points: (There are a lot here because there are a lot of books) What are the different kinds of governments, and what kinds use lineage for the heirs? How are these stories different than what you have heard for Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, etc. and what do you like/dislike about these? What is the worth of a person – do royals (or leaders) deserve better treatment than others? What difference does having money or a title make in the way someone may be raised and their success in life? Is it possible to be critical of yourself and still be kind to and confident in yourself?

More Book Lists for Princess Lovers

For more princess books (because really, who can get enough of them?), check out a few more recommendation lists:

Everyday Reading – 10 Fantastic Princess Books Worth Reading

Brightly – You Won’t Find Your Average Princess in these 10 Books

A Mighty Girl – The Ultimate Guide to the Independent Princess

Goodreads – Best Princess Tales

Riveted – The 15 Secret Princesses of YA

Princess Books for all ages Wrap-up

This post has been incredibly long, but each of these books are beloved by us, and we still feel like we have missed some really good ones! Do you have a favorite princess book? Or your child? Let us know in the comments so others can find it!

You may be interested in:

Don’t miss our related superhero book list full of great reads for all ages.

Coming soon is our YA and adult booklist we have divided into different categories to help you find your next read.

Episode 29: Bringing out the Best in Princesses and Superheroes with Dr. Sarah Coyne

Episode 29: Bringing out the Best in Princesses and Superheroes with Dr. Sarah Coyne

We help you bring out the best in princesses and superheroes in your books – whether they are for you or your children!

We know. You don’t know what to think of your toddler trying to climb walls like Spiderman and your daughter singing “Let it Go” for the bajillionth time. Luckily Dr. Sarah Coyne has done the research and spills all for ways we can bring out the best in princesses and superheroes using books about these beloved characters.

This week we are joined by Sarah Coyne, professor and a director at the School of Family life at Brigham Young University where she studies gender, body image, children, and adolescence. Her studies are vast and varied, but she joined us today to chat about a topic that many people have strong opinions about- superheroes and princesses. 

In this episode we talk about:

1. How an experience with her then-three-year-old daughter asking if she was too fat sparked Dr. Coyne’s interest in the scientific study of princesses and superheroes.

“[A colleague] said, ‘I don’t really have any research to back me up here in terms of scientific studies,’ and I thought, ‘well that’s what I do for my job, so I think I’ll do a study on Disney princesses!’”

2. What some of the results of Dr. Coyne’s studies on the effects of both princesses and superheroes on young children have been.

3. Some of the criticisms of princess and superhero stories, but also how they are changing with time and thoughts on how we can consume them rather than simply give up on them.

“There’s all these beautiful themes that are mentioned in the princess movies, like loyalty or defending your family members or following your dreams or how to work really hard and not give up when people are mean to you…I think if we focused on those messages and those themes we would do a lot better than generally focusing on appearance or how pretty they are, which is sometimes what we do.”

How to focus on the good using books

4. How we can focus on the good in these stories and characters using books.

“If you’re watching a movie, it’s hard to pause it and be like, ‘okay, let’s talk about what’s going on here,’ but with a book it feels more natural to do that… It’s a really beautiful opportunity to be able to talk about some of those good themes we find in princess movies as opposed to watching a move.”

5. How we can take a child’s more superficial interest in a character or story and help them see different aspects and attributes of those beloved characters that we would love for our kids to emulate or internalize. 

6. We dip just a bit into Dr. Coyne’s studies about aggression in children and adolescents and the role superheroes might play in that. She had some great thoughts on using those stories to start conversations and using them to learn and grow.

“I’m not a big fan of banning things just flat out; I really believe that media can be such a valuable tool in all sorts of different ways… Media is just a tool and you can use a tool for both good and evil.”

In Bringing out the Best in Princesses and Superheroes we mention:

We are so grateful to Dr. Coyne for taking the time to talk with us! More information about her and her research can be found in the following places:


Social Media Curriculum for 5-8 graders-

Freakonomics Episode (Dr. Coyne is a contributing guest)

Does Hollywood Still Have a Princess Problem

Books we mentioned:

My Little Pony Friendship Adventures (series) by Olivia London

One Page at a Time’s princess book recommendations

We give you a list of some of our favorite princess books and some ideas for positive themes you can talk about with your child.

One Page at a Time’s superhero book recommendations

We give you some of our favorite, wholesome superhero books, along with some starting points for positive themes to get the conversation going with your child.

Episode 28: Focusing on Focus: Helping Kids Read Independently with Kristen Berrett

Episode 28: Focusing on Focus: Helping Kids Read Independently with Kristen Berrett

We are focusing on focus and helping kids read independently in this episode – a sometimes overwhelming subject. If you have a wiggle-worm or reluctant reader in your life, this may be a helpful listen.

This week we are joined by Kristen Berrett, an educator who has worked with non-profit youth mentoring organizations for many years. She is an avid reader (not surprising, as she is one of co-host Jill’s five sisters) who joined us to share her thoughts and years of experience working with children and teenagers from all sorts of backgrounds.

In this episode we talk about:

1. How many parents and others who work with kids would love for said kids and teens to read more, but aren’t sure how to help them have the focus needed to read independently.

“If we are talking about teaching a child the skill of being able to focus and read independently, just the same with any skill- practice makes perfect.”

2. Several things that Kristen has studied and researched that can affect a child’s ability to focus (and, by extension, their ability to read independently). Two main ones that she has focused on in her career are screen time and childhood trauma.

“Even as I’m working from home today I have like 12 internet browsers open and I’m going back and forth between all of them and it’s not teaching anybody- kids or adults- how to focus on one thing.” 

3. Things that Kristen has learned both through her research as well as through working with kids that can help children improve their ability to focus.

4. How meditation and mindfulness is a growing idea in schools, after-school programs and even families that can help kids “get their brain back into a place where they can focus.”

“Even just a few minutes in nature every day can help a kid learn how to calm their mind and slow things down so that they can focus on other things during the rest of their lives.”

5. Some techniques that Kirsten has seen actually help kids improve the effects of childhood trauma, which can be a big factor in kids’ ability to focus.

6. The unique classroom experience Kristen had when she was teaching- elementary school physical education and high school leadership classes for Latinos and refugees-  and how she used books in her classes.

“Because of the demographics of the classes I was teaching, we had a lot of conversations about race and about what that means, to be different from other people…and the book really opened up a lot of those conversations.”

7. Independent reading and young children, starting habits early and how audiobooks can play a role in that.

8. Research and resources Kirsten has used to build her knowledge base in this subject.

We are so grateful to Kristen for taking the time to talk with us! More information about her, and some of the things we chatted about can be found in the following places:

Books we mention in Focusing on Focus: Helping Kids Read Independently

The Deepest Well Nadine Burke Harris

Paul Tough, author

Peaceful Piggie Meditation by Kerry Lee MacLean

Blue Willow by Doris Gates

Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

We also mention:

Better Screen Time – a great resource for helping you keep the tech in your home in check, no matter how old your children are.

You may also be interested in our interview with Lauren Tarshis from Scholastic, Fighting The Decline By Nine.

Episode 26: Dealing with Covid-19

Episode 26: Dealing with Covid-19

Dealing with Covid-19 using books may sound overwhelming or like a perfect fit – or likely somewhere between these two on the sliding scale. We wanted to give you a look at what’s happening in One Page at a Time and also a couple resources you can look into if you wish.

In this episode we talk about:

1 Jill and Amanda are both dealing with Covid-19 in different ways, since we have different personalities and different situations. The one commonality with everyone is that this is an unexpected and life-altering period in our lives. We all handle it in different ways, and that’s totally okay.

2 We very quickly list some of the resources we are aware of that are currently available to help us all during this time. Check the end of this post for links and more info.

3 Finally, we both feel as though some of the unpublished interviews we have done may be helpful for many of us now. Therefore, we’ve changed our schedule around and you can expect to hear from authors

Dealing with Covid-19 resources:

We are Teachers

This may be the most concise and inclusive list of “virtual author activities” that we have seen. This lists a lot of authors and illustrators doing drawings (think Mo Willems) and many read alouds (think Oprah Winfrey). It’s sectioned off into 3 age categories, so don’t get too overwhelmed by the length of the list. If you’re going to start somewhere, we recommend you start here.

A Kid’s Book About Covid-19

Big fan of A Kid’s Book series like us? Download their great ebook on Covid-19 for free at the link above. In general, these are great books about subjects that can be difficult one way or another, so it may be worth perusing their shop, as well. (not affiliated in any way, just like their books)

What is a Pandemic? Free e-story

Teachers Pay Teachers is a treasure trove of great resources, and this free story is definitely one to read. It’s graded K-3rd grade, though my 5-year-old had a harder time with the text.

Wide Open School

This is one of the resources we have that covers kids Pre-K to Grade 12. I will quote the website, “As parents, you may be adjusting to the idea of having your kids at home all the time. To make learning with them more accessible, we have been busy compiling the best free online resources.” If you are feeling a bit lost and on your own, this is a great start for schooling.

Kate Messner

Author and former teacher, Kate Messner has shared a page full of resources that are even divided by age. As a parent, I think this is a useful page, even though it is intended for librarians and teachers. She includes a link to publisher guidelines for online read a louds, if you have been wondering about that. She also has links to several of her own children’s books on YouTube.

Author Penpal: Kimberlee Gard

We have a great interview we will be publishing soon with Kimberlee about her books. The Day Punctuation Came to Town is my personal favorite, and she is an absolute delight. She just announced on her instagram account that she will respond to anyone who wants to write to her, pen-pal style.

Storyline Online

Celebrities reading books can never get old, right? These are picture books, heads up.

Story Seeds Podcast story about Corona Virus

Story Seeds is a fabulous podcast that shows up regularly in our bedtime routine at Amanda’s house. Jason Reynolds, author of the newly released Stamped, gives 8 tips for keeping the new “villain” in town at bay. It’s not so much a story, but definitely worth a listen (it’s 4 minutes) to see if you feel it would be helpful for your family.

Brain Pop video and curriculum on Covid-19

The video by Brain Pop is great for any age, and if you have school-age kids, be sure to look into the accompanying reading, vocabulary, quiz, etc. This is a great way to be sure you and your child are on the same page with understanding such a difficult subject.

We talked with Stephanie Ballien from in Episode 25:; Loving Bookstores from Afar all about this amazing option to get audiobooks AND support a local/indy bookstore of your choice. This can have a tremendous effect on small businesses during this time, and get you access to any books you may not have available through your local library or other free resources.

Mrs Plemon’s Kindergarten

Mrs. Plemon offers an amazing collection of lessons directly tied to books. She has arranged them by season and by age going from toddler up through elementary. There are lots of options that are suitable for year-round, as well. Reasonably priced, and she uses great books and builds on them.

There are other options like Mrs. Plemon’s Kindergarten out there, so if you are looking for something specific, try a quick Google search.

Free children’s audiobooks on Audible

Audible has released a massive collection of children’s audiobooks for free. I wasn’t able to find many YA books, but there are plenty of classics and other options to keep you listening through quiet time, bedtime, and beyond.

Association of American Publishers

This gives a list of some academic resources like textbooks and other options released by publishers. I’d look into this for college age and rising college kids or for you yourself.

National Emergency Library

A friend shared this with me, and I’ll quote him, “don’t let the moniker fool you, this National Library is a global resource and was principally created via the fear/hype/restriction to indoors that COVID-19 created” (thanks, Mark!). They have focused on scanning copies of books published between the 1920’s and 1990’s that do not have ebooks and are therefore otherwise unavailable on Libby or from your usual public library.

Helen Farmer from themothershipdxb on Instagram

Amanda mentions this mommy blogger in Dubai in the episode. Look around your social media for any of your favorite influencers reading books or doing something else you are interested in.

Episode 24: Healthy Bodies, Healthy Books with Coleen Graham

Episode 24: Healthy Bodies, Healthy Books with Coleen Graham

What do we mean by healthy bodies, healthy books? We share how can you use books to help your family stay healthy, and what are some great options to read together.

This week we are joined by Coleen Graham, a RN who has worked in a major pediatric hospital for the past eleven years. She also has three kids of her own, so she has had plenty of experience teaching kids about being sick and staying healthy in all sorts of settings. Along with nursing she also teaches preschool and the occasional yoga class, so we are very grateful that she was able to take the time to chat with us about this topic that has been on many parents’ minds lately!

In this episode we talk about:

1. Coleen’s job at the hospital and what she does there. She explains her unit as a “step-down NICU.” She mostly works with infants and toddlers, although they have recently started getting children of many different ages.

2. What she prioritizes as a nurse and a mom when she teaches her kids about their bodies and staying healthy. 

3. How she has used books to teach those things to her kids and why picture books do such a great job at putting these complicated topics on their level.

4. How she has seen books used at her hospital unit. For instance, she has seen a feeding tube kit that comes with a story book and coloring book that talk about what it is, how it is used, how they can talk about it, etc. Since her unit is mostly younger kids, they do not use them to explain what is going on as much, but they have books that are for the kids and parents to use while they are there, which helps to bring something familiar and comforting to a scary situation.

“The parents are happy to see a book that they are familiar with and they are happy to read to their child and it kind of makes a scary hospital experience something a little less scary.”

5. Coloring books and what a great tool they can be. Coleen has used them when teaching her kids about their bodies and she made a great point about how kids are often times better able to listen to things we are trying to teach them when their hands are busy doing something else… like coloring or drawing!

7. How she has decided what to teach her different children at different ages.

8. A few of their family’s favorite books for talking about bodies and health.

9. How our emotions and mental health can affect our physical health and how we can help our kids with their emotions and especially to identify and communicate them.

10. All three of us chime in with some books that might be good for older children, teenagers or even adults who want to

We are so grateful to Coleen for taking the time to talk with us! More information about her, the books we chat about, and other resources to help us teach our kids about being healthy can be found in the following places:

In Healthy Bodies, Healthy Books we mention:



Google Scholar


The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist by Stan and Jan Berenstain

What are Germs? – By Katie Daynes (Usborne)

My Body – Usborne

The Usborne Science Encyclopedia by several authors

The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems

Standin’ Tall Cleanliness by Janeen Brady

Little Monkey Calms Down by Michael Dahl

Lurlene McDaniel (author)

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright

The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling

Do Not Lick This Book by Idan Ben-Barak and Julian Frost

Magic School Bus: The Giant Germ by Scholastic

The Big Book of the Body – Usborne

Daniel Visits the Doctor – Daniel Tiger book

Looking for more on “healthy” books for your family? Look at this blog post

Want to read about the Covid-19 financial crisis of 2020? Here’s a great booklist to get you started

From Civil War Books to Books that are Really Me: How my Bookshelves are Changing

From Civil War Books to Books that are Really Me: How my Bookshelves are Changing

Written by Amanda Fristrom

This story is about how my bookshelves are changing from what I thought was a good statement about me to an accurate reflection of who I am, and therefore the right statement about me. This is related to and refers to Episode 21: Organize Yourshelf: Storing Books with Jamie Shaner

When I was a teenager,

I started to get interested in the US Civil War (which is funny to me because Jamie Shaner specifically mentions Civil War books and here I go). So I started to collect Civil War books from sales and whatever. I even subscribed to a Civil War magazine and had each issue lined up on my shelf. I did read some of the books, but I got them too fast and they were too dense and I apparently didn’t love the Civil War as much as I thought I did, because suddenly I had a huge pile of books I had never read and the idea of reading them didn’t excite me.

So I went to college, and ended up taking a Civil War history class. I loved the class, and LOVED the books I read for that class. I came home for a holiday, and was expecting I would be excited to read these books now that I was newly reinvigorated on the subject matter. But I didn’t open any of them. Not a crack. 

In an attempt to go through my things

A couple years later and help clear out my parents’ house (since I live abroad and don’t have any way to bring books with me), I started to look at these books in a new way. I love the four questions that Jamie Shaner asks in her episode, and I wish I had them then. Do I need these Civil War books? No. Do I use them. Never. Do I love them? Not really. I love the idea of them. Do I have the space? Well, at that point, it was a no.

It was easy for me to justify in my mind to keep my Harry Potter series, but not these Civil War books. I gave them away, and it was hard – probably because I didn’t have the nicely formatted process; I felt like I was giving up this idea that I like Civil War history and people wouldn’t think as highly of me if I didn’t have a bookcase full of dense and diverse books.

So when Jamie was talking about her dictionary

and thesaurus sitting on her desk as a statement that words are important to her, but that she could still give those away to make space for more books, I started to reshape my thinking about my gifted Civil War books and the books I have on my shelves right now. A lot of them are there because I want people to know that I’m interested in that topic, or that I used to be interested in it during some point of my past. And I don’t know if these books are worth keeping or not. I’d rather, I think, have books that I absolutely love. They would be a better reflection of myself and also show that books themselves are important to me. 

So much of Jamie’s organization guidelines falls back on the underlying assumption that you want to access the books that you have, because you shouldn’t have them if you don’t want them. And in that case, I have a lot of adjustments to be done. My current shelf at my parents’ house is full of the books that I LOVE, from Ella Enchanted to my favorite non-fiction I read in college. The shelves here where I actually live have a lot of books I haven’t even read, or that I am mildly attached to. Some have even been gifted to us and I don’t really have any interest in them at all! I have to look through all our books with a newly critical eye.

Jamie mentions her belief that anything can have energy,

and the way we collect, organize, and present items can be good or bad energy – I agree. There’s a different feel to the bookshelf in my old room in my parent’s house that is full of books I love than there is to this bookshelf here. When I look at them, I feel different things. So now I will be looking to create shelves that truly represent me and make me happy when I see them. I want to whittle down my collection to those volumes I can talk at length about when a guest pulls it down – and not sheepishly admit I haven’t read a single one of those dozen Civil War books and know not a whit about any of it. That’s defeating the entire purpose of having shelves of books!

Will you join with us this while you are Spring cleaning and critically look at your book collection? What systems do you have in place to make sure you’re keeping room on the shelves for the books you really want there?

Episode 21: Organize yourshelf; Storing books with Jamie Shaner

Episode 21: Organize yourshelf; Storing books with Jamie Shaner

This week we are joined by Jamie Shaner, a professional organizer who founded Home Solutions of WNY, Inc. in 2005. She is also an avid perennial gardener who loves playing in the dirt,  and enjoys reading and listening to all kinds of music. This was an interview we looked forward to for a long time, both for her expertise as well as because of her approach toward books, which to quote her is: “As a professional organizer, I’m authorized to say there’s such a thing as too many suitcases, too much jello in the pantry, or too many dolls with eyes that move, but rarely ever too many books.” 

In this episode we talk about:

1. Note that Jamie’s book philosophy is that one can rarely have too many books (not never), so she does share with us some circumstances that may show that we have books that might be better served finding a new home for.

2. For all of our remaining books, we talk about finding ways to store books appropriately using the space we have available. One missed book storage opportunity that both Amanda and I are guilty of is picking short bookcases- why limit yourself to that when we could find one that goes all the way up the wall that can use that rarely-utilized vertical space.

3. We were very interested to ask Jamie her thoughts on Marie Kondo, the rather famous organizational expert who has gotten some flak through the years for her sometimes sparse attitude towards owning and storing books. Jamie gave us her personal method of helping her clients organize: “Do you need it, do you use it, do you love it (if it is something loveable), and do you have the space to store it?” She shares with us how she would apply it specifically to books and it is incredibly helpful!

4. If we do every find ourselves needing to downsize our book collection, Jamie also had thoughts on what to do with the ones that we, as she put it, “release out into the universe for someone who does not have these books of their own.” 

5. We also got into the organization of books once you have the spaces set to store them. The librarian half of our duo loved this part of the discussion and, while we recognize that everyone is going to have their own “cataloging” system for their home collections, she gave us some great thoughts and tips if you are struggling managing it.

We are so grateful to Jamie for taking the time to talk with us! More information about her and her company can be found in the following places:

In Organize yourshelf: storing books, we mention:


Home Solutions WNY Inc

University of Buffalo Annual book sale

How Amanda’s bookshelves are changing as a result of Jamie’s interview


Books we mentioned:

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Ann Patchett (Author)

Barbara Kingsolver (Author)

Anne Tyler (Author)

Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Episode 19: How We Read with Lucia and JR Ratliff

Episode 19: How We Read with Lucia and JR Ratliff

Have you ever read with your spouse? Maybe listened to a book in the car together? We get lots of great ideas from Lucia and JR Ratliff on how they read together, and then Jill and Amanda talk about how it went with their husbands when they brought up the possibility of reading together.

This week we are joined by married couple Lucia and JR Ratliff. Natives of the US, they are currently experiencing life in host Amanda’s neck of the woods- the United Arab Emirates. She is a songwriter and teacher while he is a professor and they have four kids. They have been reading together since the early days of their relationship and now have years’ worth of experience and advice to share with us!

In this episode we talk about:

1. How did they get started? “Just a matter of, we only have one book, but we both want to read it, so we’ll just read it out loud!” As it went on, their voices couldn’t keep up with them, so they switched to audiobooks. They listen or read while doing other things- such as working out or playing tetris as well as in the car. Quite often it also happens when they are in bed at the end of the day, when they utilize the handy timer function on many audiobook players so as not to lose their place when they fall asleep!

2. How has reading together affected their relationship? It gives them something beyond their kids and everyday lives to joke about, relate about and talk about. “It definitely added another dimension to our relationship, because we were doing that together…”

3. How do they decide what books to read? Goodreads, recommendations from friends, Audible suggestions similar to books they have enjoyed, reading their way through the collections of authors they like. They take turns picking the books so that both of their tastes and interests are covered.

4. How and when do they talk about the books that they read together? It is usually mixed in with their everyday conversations. Their morning routines are a great time to chat about what they listen to the night before, while they are in the car or even as they are messaging each other throughout the day, when a thought occurs to them or something else they read connects to it.

5. Where are their kids during all this book listening? Sometimes the kids are around! Usually it is when they are all in the car and Lucia picks one that is appropriate for all of them (“Lucia is the audiobook CEO around here!”). They usually stick to children’s literature when they are all together, however, at times parts of the books they read as a couple stick out to them that they want to share with their kids and listen to it together.

6. Where could a couple start who have never read together? Start with what you already enjoy doing together. “I think couples already kind of know what they enjoy doing together and most things come in book form!” Taking turns is important as well, because it helps you get to know your partner in a new and different way, or gives you clues as to what is on their mind when you read what the other is into at the moment.

7. Audiobooks vs. reading out loud to each other will come down to each couple’s preference. The Ratliffs have their reasons for preferring audiobooks, but each couple will have to figure out what works best for them!

We are so grateful to Lucia and JR for taking the time to talk with us and can’t wait to dive into this list of recommendations they gave! 

In How We Read with Lucia and JR Ratliff, we mention a lot of books:

The Twilight Saga (series) by Stephanie Meyer

Stephenie Meyer (author)

Brandon Sanderson (author)

Brandon Mull (author)

Brené Brown (author)

Anne Lamott (author)

Roald Dahl autobiography (There are two books)

Harry Potter (series) by J. K. Rowling

Beyonders (series) by Brandon Mull

The Lunar Chronicles (series) by Marissa Meyers

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Michael Kramer (narrator)

Shannon Hale (author)

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Fred Rogers Biography by Jennifer Warner

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bissel van der Kolk

The Paper Magician (series) Charlie N. Holmberg