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3 Finally, we both feel as though some of the unpublished interviews we have done may be helpful for many of us now.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 Libro.fm in Episode 25: Libro.fm; 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 25: Libro.fm: Loving Bookstores from Afar

Episode 25: Libro.fm: Loving Bookstores from Afar

Loving Bookstores from Afar may seem impossible, given the nature of brick-and-mortar stores. Add in the current #stayhome world we are in, we fear for our sanity and for the bookstores around the world. Libro.fm can help with both these concerns.

This week we are joined by Stephanie Ballien, the director of marketing for a digital company called Libro FM. She worked with many other major brands before finding her passion and home at Libro FM. She hails from Seattle and enjoys life there with her two children.

In this episode we talk about:

1. What Libro FM is. It is a company that provides a way for you to buy audiobooks through local and independent bookstores that they have partnered with- a great way to support bookstores while still getting the digital content we love!

2. How the partnership with bookstores makes Libro FM different from other audiobook platforms and what features they are able to bring to their customers thanks to that partnership.

3.  A speed-round of Frequently Asked Questions that Stephanie handled like a champ! So much good information about them, how they work, how much it costs, and so much more in such a short amount of time (you get to own the audio file! They have monthly sales! You can get a refund if you did not like the book! You can pick a bookstore to support!).

4. When we recorded and originally aired this episode, the world was in the middle of dealing with the outbreak of COVID-19. We chatted about what Libro FM was doing to support the local bookstores that they partner with, many of which had to close down while their cities tried to contain the virus.

5. And, as a final wrap-up, we got Stephanie about the latest book that she has read and fell in love with.

In Libro.fm: Loving Bookstores From Afar we mention

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







Books we mentioned:

Stamped by Jason Reynolds

Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer  (series)

Disney’s Frozen Anna and Elsa sister series by Erica David

Nate the Great (series) by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

A Boy Called Bat (series) by Alana K Arnold

Related Episodes

If you’re looking for another great way to listen to audiobooks, be sure to listen to Episode 9: Getting to Know Overdrive and Libby with Adam Sockel

We also talk about listening to audiobooks in one of our earliest interviews with Family Looking Up in Episode 6: Finding Books for your Family

Week one: Get Lovin’ those books

Week one: Get Lovin’ those books

Welcome to One Page at a Time’s Summer of Fun! We hope you’ll get lovin’ those books right off the bat. We are bringing you 12 weeks of books and activities for all ages, all centered on a weekly theme that will help you bring books into activities that you are already planning or could easily add into your summer plans. With several books in each reading level category, we hope that there are at least a couple that are available to you, wherever you may be. The activities are also planned to be simple and cost-effective, making them achievable for anyone who wants in on the fun!

To kick off our Summer of Fun, we wanted to start with something that will hopefully set you and your families up for a whole summer of finding the fun in books. For this week we have gathered our favorite books about books for all reading levels so we can celebrate the awesomeness found in all those pages out there in the world.

And now, without further ado, we give you WEEK ONE: Fall in Love with Books!

Picture Books

This is My Book by Mark Pett

The author/illustrator of this book may think he is in control, but he definitely underestimates his rogue illustration!

How This Book was Made by Mac Barnett

Librarian on the Roof! A True Story by MG King and Stephen Gilpin

How to Read a Story by Kate Messner

Juvenile Fiction

The Great Treehouse War by Lisa Graff

Matilda by Roald Dahl

A Kind of Paradise by Amy Rebecca Tan

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Young Adult Fiction

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

The Library of Lost Things by Laura Taylor Namey

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

Adult Fiction

How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry

The Cracked Spine: A Scottish Bookshop Mystery by Paige Shelton

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay

Adult Non-Fiction

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett

A Gentle Madness by Nicholas A. Basbanes

The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller

My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues by Pamela Paul

Toddler Activity

Make reading as fun for the kiddos as possible this week so that they absolutely fall in love with it!

  • Read somewhere you don’t normally read (outside, at the table while eating a meal, in Mom and Dad’s bed, in a fort built underneath the dining room table, etc)
  • Make a treat together and then read while eating the treats
  • Read a favorite book over and over again
  • Give them an M&M every time they hear a certain word in a book,
  • Listen to an audiobook while snuggled together on a couch or bed
  • Ask your local librarian to help you find a stack of books all about something that they love right now

or whatever else you can think of! And then share your ideas with us so we can try them out, too!

Youth Activity

Try your hands at creating your own book recommendation lists! Pick a theme (go simple- “books set in England,” or go detailed- “books with an animal as the narrator”), or simply try and narrow your choices down to your top five or ten (or fifty!) books you would recommend to people. Pick the same theme as friends, siblings or parents and see how many books in common you all chose.

Adult/Family Activity

Have a family movie night and watch the movie version of a book you have read and loved. Use this as a way to encourage a reluctant reader to finish a book or to connect a younger child to books by introducing him/her to a favorite character from the screen in book version.

Episode 22: How We Read with Amanda Pilmer Roberts

Episode 22: How We Read with Amanda Pilmer Roberts

This week we are joined in a discussion of How We Read with Amanda Pilmer Roberts, a “semi-retired” librarian, as she describes it, who has a great love of (and talent for) music, dance and theater. She has degrees in Theater, Musicology and Library Science and has spent her varied career working in unique school libraries, singing in choirs, choreographing musicals and now, her latest adventure, raising her beautiful baby daughter. 

In this episode we talk about

1. Amanda’s unique career in equal parts theater and libraries. She gives some great insights into what goes into many librarians’ careers and gives us a sense of how many different types of libraries there are, which many people aren’t aware of!

2. How being a librarian has influenced Amanda’s approach to books with her family now that she has her daughter. Suffice it to say, she will never hesitate heading to a library and asking a librarian for help when they are in need of books or information!

3. What reading looks like with her baby, who is just younger than a year old. This is a hard stage for many people to read to their kids at, as they are active and mobile, yet not always engaged in book, and Amanda shares what works for her and her baby.

4. Both Amanda and her husband are actively involved in reading with their daughter and she talks about what the looks like in their family. They had talked about it and knew that books were going to be a part of their family’s life even before they were married and had kids and started their book collections for their future family long ago. 

5. We talk about tracking the books our kids read and Amanda makes a great point that she wishes she had kept track when she was younger, since there are books that she remembers and wishes she could find then again, but doesn’t remember enough about it (…the cover was blue…?).

6. Amanda wraps up by sharing with us a technique she used as a school librarian to help her students to pick books to read. She used a system from Scholastic called PICK (link to it below). It’s a great system helpful in a school as well as family setting!

In How We Read with Amanda Pilmer Roberts we mention:


The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease and Cyndi Giorgis

ABCs of Physics by Chris Ferrie

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood

If you enjoyed listening to Amanda Pilmer Roberts, try one of these other episodes:

Episode 17: How We Read with Rachel Lambourne

Episode 13: From Reluctant Reader to Librarian with Harold Hayes

Episode 11: How We Read with Cathy Balfanz

Episode 01: The More You Read the Better you Get with Cyndi Giorgis

Honoring your personal sacred text

Honoring your personal sacred text

Have you ever written down your spiritual beliefs and shared it with those close to you? Dr. David Dollahite and Jill Berrett Given relate their experiences with honoring personal sacred texts, both from the author’s perspective and from the receiving side.

Jill here! As you might be able to tell from the length of our episode with Drs. David Dollahite and Loren Marks, we had a fabulous conversation with them that we just did not want to stop. For the sake of our listeners’ ears, however, we had to edit it down a touch, losing some of the wisdom they shared with us. One story, shared by Dr. Dollahite and transcribed below, really resonated with me, however. 

David C Dollahite

“One of the things I did a few years ago was to write down my own spiritual experiences, my own spiritual journey from being a non religious teenager to a conversion experience and reading a sacred text and coming to God and becoming a religious person and then what that meant to me; the changes that meant to my life. So, I wrote this up and it happened to be published in a book called God’s Tender Mercies… I was very fortunate to be able to do an audiobook version of this book… that my daughter and son-in-law got… My grandkids used to listen to that audiobook for their bedtime stories- they requested it because it was their grandfather talking about his own childhood and his own spiritual and religious changes and experiences. For months they listened to that…and I can’t tell you the joy of hearing my grandkids bring up in various settings an experience that I had while reading sacred text. Many of those experiences that I shared in that book are spiritual experiences that had something to do with reading sacred text. To hear them…tell back to me these experiences that I had- they would share similar ideas or they would ask about that, would like me to tell that story again or tell more about that or more details about that… 

I think, in addition to reading sacred texts with your children, if you can write your own sacred texts, so to speak- that is, to write, or to audio-record if you don’t like to write, those meaningful religious and spiritual experiences that you have had and then find a way to share those with your children and, down the road, grandchildren, I think there is potential blessing and joy in that… Reading what people hundreds or thousands of years ago in another culture experienced in terms of their own religious experiences- that’s a deeply important thing to do. I believe that helping your children and grandchildren to know that you yourself have had those kinds of interactions with God…that you’ve sort of been to the mountaintop, so to speak, that you have received answers to your prayers, that you have had challenges in your life that were helped by reading sacred text or by prayer, and if you have had experiences, as anyone who is living a religious life will have- times when they feel God’s presence or God’s guidance or comfort or forgiveness or whatever- if those can be written down and then shared in whatever way makes sense with family members, [then] I believe that that can be a real blessing.”

Jill Berrett Given

Shortly after I married my husband, his father sent him and all his siblings a letter. In it, he shared with them the experiences that he and his wife, my husband’s mother, had gone through shortly after they themselves had been married that led them to the church that they now belong to and the peace and joy that it has brought to them and the family that they subsequently raised.

I was fascinated by this letter, as I come from a family who has been members of the same church going back for generation after generation after generation. I have read the stories of my ancestors having those types of spiritual experiences, but it had all happened so long ago that it was simply a nice story. This one had happened to people who, had they made different choices during that time, would have changed my own life. I never would have met and married my husband had they not had those spiritual experiences. I would not have the children I have. I would not have the life I have. 

We read that letter every so often in our home, both just between my husband and I as well as with our children. I hadn’t thought about it in these terms until hearing Dr. Dollahite talk about it, but it truly has become sacred text to us. I probably wasn’t even foremost in my father-in-law’s mind when he wrote his experiences down, as I was so newly married into their family, but his words have had a great impact on my life and so will yours on people you may not even realize if you simply write them down. Words are powerful and important, as we hope to tell the word with our podcast, and sacred words can be some of the most powerful ones out there.

Episode 15: “Holy Script!” Sacred Text in the Home with Dr David Dollahite and Dr Loren Marks

Episode 15: “Holy Script!” Sacred Text in the Home with Dr David Dollahite and Dr Loren Marks

To talk about sacred text in our home, this week we are joined by Drs. David Dollahite and Loren Marks, two professors at the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University. They have worked for years on a research project called American Families of Faith, which has given them a great deal of insight into the lives of families who are active in all different kinds of faiths and how these families have used reading sacred texts in their family life, which is what chatted with them about.

In “Holy Script!” Sacred text in the home we talk about:

1. What the American Families of Faith Project does and some of what their research has shown them.

2. What exactly are sacred texts? Each religion considers differently, but in general, for Muslims it is the Koran and the deeds and writings of the prophet Muhammad, for Jewish people it is the Torah and Talmud, Christians have the Old and New Testament, etc.

3. Developmental psychologists pretty much agree that ages 0-6 are the most developmentally for children. Keeping that in mind, may times we underestimate our young children and with some guidance, enthusiasm explanation and perhaps most importantly, some stories and narrative, these kids are capable of gaining surprising depth in their understanding of faith. Reading these religious texts with our kids, whether it is the actual texts or more kid-friendly versions, adds another level to the bonding and development that already occurs when we read other stories with our children. 

4. What about our kids who are older than six? Even if those early years are the building of children’s developmental foundations, the doctors have found in their research that there is “explosive building” on that foundation in the ensuing years, even into early adulthood. This is the time that children will start to ask questions and our dialogue with them becomes rich and interactive. We also need to remember that our traditions and ways of going about things like reading sacred text in the home with our children will change and evolve as our children grow. We may continue to do it through the years, but exactly how it is done will look different year to year. 

5. Based on their own experience as well as their research, they have found that these studies work best when there is an open dialogue between children and their parents. Both parents and youth enjoyed conversations about religious things more when they were initiated by the youth, when parents found ways to relate the conversation to the youth rather than abstract theology, when the parents kept their parts brief and more. They give us plenty of great ideas for this type of reading with our older kids!

6. Reading religious texts is something that can benefit from taking the time to personally prepare for those times we do it as a family, but, recognizing that the phase of actively raising children is a time- and energy-consuming one, do not discount the study and preparation you have done in this area leading up to this time of your life.

7. Families with interfaith relationships may need to go about things differently, but to successfully include religious texts in your family’s habits, the different members must learn to respect the views and beliefs that each other hold. This also is a huge part of what goes into adult children’s decisions to stay with their family’s faith or not- the relationships and respect of the family they grew up in.

Drs. Dollahite and Marks left us with a couple of great ideas of how to get started on putting their insights into practice this week with sacred text in the home. Dr. Dollahite invited us to prayerfully consider the way that we are engaging in sacred texts personally and in our marriage and parenting, and ask if what they are doing is enough and be open to the possibility that perhaps there might be an adjustment might be worth trying. Dr. Marks invited us to be gracious and patient with ourselves and our efforts in this area and to remember that even when we fail, which will be more often than we want, the successes will be worth it.

In this episode we mention:

We are so grateful to Dr. Dollahite and Dr. Marks for taking the time to talk with us! More information about them and the American Families of Faith Project can be found in the following places:


American Families of Faith Project

BYU School of Family Life


Religion and Families: An Introduction by Loren D Marks and David C Dollahite

The Quran (Pictured here is a book of selections)

The Torah

The Talmud

The Holy Bible

The Book of Mormon

Additional Articles and Research:

Strengths in Diverse Families of Faith – Provides an overview of many topics discussed in our conversation

How Religion Promotes Positive Parent-Youth Relationships and Youth Spiritual Development:

Dollahite, D. C., & Marks, L. D. (2019). Positive youth religious and spiritual development: What we have learned from religious families. Religions10, 548. doi:10.3390/rel10100548

Dollahite, D. C., Marks, L. D., Babcock, K. P., Barrow, B. H., & Rose, A. H. (2019). Beyond religious rigidities: Religious firmness and religious flexibility as complementary loyalties in faith transmissionReligions, 10, 111; doi:10.3390/rel10020111

Dollahite, D. C., Marks, L. D., Kear, T. M., Lewis, B. M., & Stokes, M. L. (2018). Beyond the bucket list: Identity-centered religious calling, being, and action among parentsPsychology of Religion and Spirituality10, 44-54. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/rel0000130

Dollahite, D. C., & Thatcher, J. Y. (2008). Talking about religion: How religious youth and parents discuss their faithJournal of Adolescent Research23, 611-641. doi:10.1177/0743558408322141

Layton, E., Hardy, S. A., & Dollahite, D. C. (2012). Religious exploration among highly religious American adolescentsIdentity: An International Journal of Theory and Research, 12, 157–184. doi:10.1080/15283488.2012.668728

Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation:

Dollahite, D. C., Marks, L. D., & Barrow, B. H. (2019). Exploring relational reconciliation processes in Christian, Jewish, and Muslim familiesFamily Relations, 68, 517-533. doi:10.111/fare.12371

Lambert N. M., & Dollahite, D. C. (2006). How religiosity helps couples prevent, resolve, and overcome marital conflictFamily Relations, 55, 439-449. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3729.2006.00413.x

Don’t miss our previous episode, Interactive Journaling in the New Year with author Paula Spencer Scott

Bonus: 12 Books of Christmas

We’ve been counting down to Christmas with some of our favorite picture books for the holiday. Check out this year’s choices, and follow us on Instagram or Facebook for upcoming countdowns and recommendations! Here are our 12 books of Christmas 2019

First Day

“On the first day of Christmas…” your friendly, neighborhood, book-loving podcast brings you the first of twelve of our favorite Christmas children’s books!

I begged Amanda to let me highlight this one, because it has been my favorite since my mom read it to us when I was little. It is such a sweet, touching story of a lonely mouse and how one act of completely selfless kindness on his part completely changes his life.

Also: Santa shows up! My kids also love it, which just goes to show how timeless a classic this book is.

Second Day

“On the second day of Christmas…” my library gave to me a wombat and an Australian Christmas Eve!
I vividly remember being fascinated by a book I read when I was younger about a girl in Australia, where it snows in July and is sweltering on Christmas! I love it when books are able to open up our eyes to parts of the world we may never get to experience for ourselves.
In its own way, this Christmas wombat does that for our kiddos- many of whom probably don’t even know what a wombat is, let alone that they live in Australia.
For those of you who already know and love “Diary of a Wombat,” this is the perfect Christmas companion to it. For everyone else, go check BOTH books out, because they are awesome.

Third Day

“On the third day of Christmas…”
The Snowman was first introduced to me as the film adaptation by my husband; and even then, it wasn’t until years later I discovered the movie is based on this book by Raymond Briggs.
We have adopted The Snowman as a family Christmas tradition, although the book doesn’t have anything particularly Christmasy about it. One of the things I love about it is that there are no words, just beautiful illustrations that alternate between small, graphic-novel-style sequencing pictures and beautiful, full-page illustrations.
A heads up for this book; the snowman does melt at the end. In separate interviews (not the book), Briggs makes a point that death is a part of life, and The Snowman is not grim or sad. It is instead a great conversation starter, and allows your children an opportunity to narrate the story themselves. My kids get lost in the artwork for long stretches of time.
Enjoy the original book, the movie, and all the adaptations that have come about throughout the years, including a board book version or several with words.

Fourth Day – Country Angel Christmas

“On the fourth day of Christmas…” my memories gave to me, another childhood favorite I want all to see!
Anyone familiar with Tomie dePaola work (Strega Nona anyone?!) will instantly recognize this as one of his.
I love this Christmas story so much, because it so naturally draws connections between St Nicholas and the story of the birth of Christ. For anyone else out there trying to walk that line between secular and sacred with their kids at Christmas time, this book is gold!
Bonus points that is is another one I remember my mom reading to us as kids, so I love sharing it with my own little crew now!

Fifth Day – Music Books

“On the fifth day of Christmas…” my musical self gave to me Christmas song books!
“Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, how lovely are your branches. Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, hmm mmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmmm.”
It was happening… again.
I can never seem to remember the words to that song, in English or German. So years ago, I bought a book of classic Christmas songs with their lyrics!
Carols and music are so prominent this time of year and can really add a lot to your family’s traditions. Whether that’s standing around the piano belting it out, going door-to-door, or maybe singing in that Christmas party…lots of potential times you may want to know the actual words to the songs (a wassailing? Talk about poetic vocab building! Bonus!).
There has not been a single year these books don’t take a prominent perch on our piano for the month of December. I especially love the Finnish book; I would never know the song to sing while dancing around the tree or be able to connect my family to this half of our Joulu heritage as naturally without this book.
We went back and forth about whether or not to break into the picture book lineup with what are admittedly outliers. But, the more I think about it, the more I’m happy to suggest that you think about getting a music book for your family to enjoy this season, whether or not you have a musician in your household.

Sixth Day – The Nutcracker Comes to America

“On the sixth day of Christmas…” my library gave to me a journey back in time with the ballet! Have you ever wondered how it was that the Russian ballet The Nutcracker became so popular here in the United States…?
Yeah, I hadn’t either, hah! But as soon as I saw this book at our library a few weeks ago I immediately thought, “how DID it become such a widespread tradition here?” This book answered all the questions I never knew I had- did you know, for example, that The Nutcracker was staged for the first time in the US by some dancing brothers from Utah? And that it wasn’t performed here until the 1940s?
Neither did I! But now I do and so can you! Go look up The Nutcracker Comes to America and you can learn all this and more, too!

Seventh Day – Pocket’s Christmas Wish

“On the seventh day of Christmas…”
Have I ever told you I wish we had a library? Well, here I go. I wish we had a library. I’m visiting my parents, and we went to their library, dug out a (massive) pile of Christmas books, and took our favorites home. Pocket’s Christmas Wish has won a place in my heart, and I’ve already ordered it.
The lovely illustrations, the adorable bunny, the sweet message, and the great open conversation starters on every page make this book one we will treasure every year. My kids and I were all drawn to it, and I’m glad to add such a great story about the meaning and worth of Christmas giving.

Eighth Day – Christmas Tree Farm

“On the eighth day of Christmas…” my parent’s library gave to me, a book full of childhood memories.
Christmas Tree Farm by Ann Purmell illustrated by Jill Weber takes me back to the days when my family and I went to the tree farm to get our tree every year. We hiked in the snow/cold, and then tagged the tree we loved. Then we bought an ornament each from the little cabin while enjoying hot cocoa while we waited for our tree to be chopped down.
Of all the many traditions we had around this time of year, this was the one that I remember most fondly. I cried the year they closed the tree farm.
We had planned to go to a tree farm this year with my kids, but we ended up chopping down a tree from my parent’s yard instead 😅 I decided that this book is the way to connect my children to my tradition until they can go to a tree farm themselves.
Ok enough about me; I love that this book gives the perspective of the tree farmers. Their work is depicted as a labor of love, which adds another dimension of warmth to this treasured tradition. The illustrations are gorgeous, with playful animals throughout the story.
There’s an educational side to this book as well. You can learn about measuring trees, the yearround process of growing trees, and there’s even a fact sheet on the last page.
I love this book for my own memories, but also as a fun way to talk with my children about how we get Christmas trees.

Ninth Day – The Christmas Crocodile

“On the ninth day of Christmas…” my kids’ favorite turned out to be: The Christmas Crocodile!
For the fourth year in a row, the most often-requested Christmas book in our home is this one right here. It has everything! Christmas ham! Crocodiles! A visiting aunt prone to fainting spells! Uncle Carbunkle!
The story is absolutely delightful, but once again, the illustrations steal the show for me, thanks to amazing illustrator David Small. If you are looking for an unexpected Christmas delight, then this is the book for you!

Tenth Day – Little Blue Truck’s Christmas

“On the tenth day of Christmas…” Little Blue Truck gave to me, a fun Christmas book about trees!
I first heard of Little Blue Truck from Sarah Wood (episode 07). I was excited to check it out, and the Christmas book does not disappoint. It lights up, which is a fun surprise, but it’s an overall cute story, adorable illustrations, and it has a nice message about giving. What more do you need in a Christmas book?

Eleventh Day – Mortimer’s Christmas Manger

“On the eleventh day of Christmas…” a little mouse named Mortimer learns a lesson from a little, tiny baby.

When Mortimer the mouse thinks he finds the perfect new home, he has roust the current occupants before he can make himself at home. He irreverently ousts the shepherds, the wise men, and yes, even poor baby Jesus, from their places of honor in the small stable he has claimed as his own, but they keep reappearing! The nerve!

I love Mortimer’s audacity, but also the way our kiddos can learn about this particular Christmas story right along with Mortimer the mouse, who does eventually learn just whose stable that really is.

Twelfth Day – Who is Coming to Our House?

“On the twelfth day of Christmas…” my Father gave to me…

This book captivated every kid aged 3-11 that I read this to for a church activity. We had rotating stations and I got to read Christmad stories to the children 🥰🎄 they all asked for this story, and they all LOVED it. And, I do, too!

The mouse says someone is coming to the stable, but doesn’t say who. Without doubting the little mouse, the animals react by jumping into action to prepare for the mystery guest. Finally we find that it’s Joseph and Mary coming to their house.

I talked with the kids about how they would react if someone said a guest was coming but didn’t say who, and how they would feel if Mary and Joseph came to their house. It’s such a fun and unique perspective.

Who is Coming to Our House is a perfect addition to your Christmas book collection. Thanks for following along with us on this countdown! We’ve had a lot of fun doing this, for sure.

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones.

Be watching for our upcoming episode on religious texts in the home, coming right after Christmas!

Episode 13: From Reluctant Reader to Librarian with Harold Hayes

Episode 13: From Reluctant Reader to Librarian with Harold Hayes

Do you have a reluctant reader at home? Perhaps even yourself? Have you become distanced from your local, public library? Hear an inspiring story about a mom’s persistence paying off big-time and how this now-bookworm loves his job as a public library director – and of course, get lots of ideas about resources that may be available to you at your library, in this episode: From reluctant reader to librarian.

This week we are joined by a wonderful man and strong librarian- Harold Hayes, director of the Samuels Public Library in Front Royal Virginia. His career in public libraries has fostered his interest in things such as access to information and the role literacy and information have on societies and the democratic process. Harold is a proponent for books and reading both in his personal and professional life and is passionate about reading aloud to children, a passion that came about at least in part because of his own experiences struggling to read as a child. From those struggles years ago to his role today as a public library director, his is an inspiring story!

From a reluctant reader to librarian:

1. Harold’s rough start with reading- he struggled for years and did not start reading proficiently until he was in 6th grade.

2. Despite his struggles reading himself, he stayed interested in books and he credits his “saintly mother,”(Harold’s words!) who he said read to them a lot and, “always put… those stories out in front of us that captured our interest and therefore challenged our ability to read at a higher and better level…”

3. The summer after Harold’s fourth grade year his family took a road trip from Wisconsin down along the Mississippi River and she read the book Tom Sawyer out loud to him and his four siblings as they drove, following a similar path Tom Sawyer travels in the book. It made the story alive and memorable for Harold, who, at the time, could not have read and understood that book himself.

4. To go from such a reluctant reader to the career he has now, Harold had to turn some corners. In the sixth grade, Harold found a book at a library used book sale and used it for a book report he was required to do for school. It was about a boy and his dog and something about it really clicked with Harold and he devoured every dog story he could find, “harassing [his] poor school librarian” for more. 

5. Looking back on his reading journey, Harold’s advice to anyone going through similar experiences with their children is to look in to Jim’s Trelease and the benefits of reading aloud as well as to let yourself give kids what they want to read, as opposed to what you think they should read.

5. Harold has worked in public libraries for years and he told us that one of his favorite things about it is the fact that public libraries are service-oriented places and he loves helping people. He especially loves solving the little mysteries that people come in with- finding answers for them. It is a good reminder that librarians are there to help us and we aren’t inconveniencing them with our kids and our questions!

6. While the exact programs differ, almost every public library will have programs for kids and teenagers. Things like story times or Books and Barks (kids can read to a trained service dog), so check out your local library for what they offer!

7. Although we may think of library programs as being for younger kids, most have them for all ages, including teens. Those older kids can also be volunteers at the library and help with those programs that they love!

Harold left us with a great idea of how to get started on putting these great ideas into practice this week. He invited us to read out loud to our children and, of course, go visit your public library!

In this episode we mention:


Samuels Public Library Facebook page


Click here for a complete list of our episodes.

Episode 09: Getting to know Overdrive and Libby

Episode 09: Getting to know Overdrive and Libby

This week we are joined by Adam Sockel, social media specialist for OverDrive and co-host of OverDrive’s delightful podcast, Professional Book Nerds. This all basically means he runs OverDrive’s social media, gets to field questions about OverDrive and their accompanying app, Libby, all day and gets to read as many books in as many different formats as he possibly can. Adam joined us to answer some burning questions about OverDrive the company, OverDrive the app and, of course, our beloved Libby app. 

In this episode we talk about:

  1. We start off by mentioning Overdrive’s own podcast, Professional Book Nerds. Adam and his co-host, Jill (different Jill from One Page at a Time’s Jill), talk with authors and leave fantastic book recommendations in their great podcast. We talk more about this later on.
  2. Next up, Adam tells us what Overdrive and Libby are. Overdrive, the name of both the company and the original app, works with about 43,000 libraries and schools all around the world to provide audiobooks and ebooks to people of all ages. This includes about 95% of all libraries in the United States. Libby is the new-and-improved app by Overdrive.
  3. Adam aced our speed round of questions Amanda pulled off Google regarding Overdrive and Libby; these are getting to the root of many searches. Here they are:
How many books can you check out on OverDrive at a time?

Depends on your library; most are between 8-10, though some go as high as 50!

Can I use OverDrive on my Mac?


Is OverDrive being replaced by Libby?

No – OverDrive covers some areas, such as vision disabilities, better and will remain in use, though Libby is the easier and more user-friendly of the two.

Can I use OverDrive without a library card?

No, you need access to someone’s library card.

Is Libby by OverDrive free?

Yes, 100%

Does Libby sync with OverDrive?

Yes, both audio and e-books

Does Libby automatically return books?


How do I add more libraries to OverDrive?

Go to the “add a library” button in either OverDrive or Libby, search for your library, and input your library card.

Does Libby search all libraries?

It is going to very soon.

Can you renew books on Libby?

Yes – 3 days before your books are due, it will ask if you’d like to renew. Renewal length is dependant on your library’s policy. If someone has a hold on that book, you will be added to the hold queue instead of renewing.

Does Libby sync across all devices?

Yes, as long as you are logged in on all those devices.

Where does Libby download books?

To any device you have the app downloaded on. The files are tiny, thankfully!

Can you borrow picture books or comic books on OverDrive?

Yes, indeed you can.

  1. How to get set up with Libby: download the Libby app on your device(s) of choice. Put in your zip code, select your library, put in your library card (or get one – and you can get one automatically if you’re in a service area for an Instant Digital Card using your phone number). You may also be able to pay an annual fee for a card to select libraries. And Jill reminds us to check the libraries around you to see if any offer cards to neighboring counties/zip codes. Having access to multiple libraries gives you access to those libraries’ collections
  2. For those living outside the US, check your library to see if they use OverDrive. And, don’t forget your permanent address if you are an expat like Amanda. If your library doesn’t offer OverDrive services through Libby, you can ask your library to get Libby.
  3. If you have exhausted all your personal options, you can share a card with a family member – an added thought is to consider adding your children’s library cards to your account so you can use content filters and you can toggle to their account and see what they are searching for and reading.
  4. Libraries receive more funding based on their usage and circulation, so using Libby is good for a library!
  5. Adam tells us a few reasons why we should all be reading with Libby. Beyond its convenience, there are specialized fonts such as the dyslexia and enlarged fonts, adjust the lighting of the screen, instantly expand your children’s library with a quick search, and the ability to listen to audiobooks means you can read in different situations than you would otherwise. Jill is also excited to try out the Read Along feature.

Adam left us with a great idea of how to get started on putting these great ideas into practice this week. He invited us to take the time to read this week- even just five minutes.

We are so grateful to Adam  for taking the time to talk with us! More information about him, OverDrive, and Professional Book Nerds can be found in the following places:





Professional Book Nerds website

Books we mentioned:

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Book travel worksheet

Book travel worksheet

In episode 8, Amanda Fristrom tells us all about how you can improve your traveling – using books. To help us plan ahead and make it even easier to bring along our favorites, we have a worksheet you can print out for every trip, or laminate and use dry erase markers again and again.

Step one: Read Before

Choose where you’re going, of course! But, after that is all sorted, we start our planning process with thinking about books we can read at home, before we ever step out the door.

Younger children:

Think “sensory;” what will you see, smell, hear, feel when you’re there? Will there be a different climate, language, people, habitat, housing, foods, or maybe even plants or animals? Try to find books that talk about these differences. Amanda talks about using flags as a great, go-to to catch the attention of her young kiddos.

Older kids:

You may want to think about famous people, holidays, facts, or the history of the place you are visiting. Try to incorporate their interests into the plan – and don’t forget fiction books as well!


Are you the travel book type, to read through what Lonely Planet has to say? Perhaps you want to brush up on some art history before making your way to the Louvre. There’s always Wikipedia while you’re standing in front of that painting, true. But reading about your destination before you go can help you be truly present in the moment while you’re gazing at Mona Lisa’s famous smile.

Step two: When we plan to read

Put on some relaxing music or burn a candle and imagine what the days will be like during your trip. Are you going to be in the car a lot? Perhaps you need quite a few family-friendly options to listen to. Are you going to be trapped in a single-room hotel with kids that go to sleep at 5pm and have to be in pitch-black, can’t-see- your- hand-and-don’t-even-think-about-watching-TV silence? Maybe you’ll be with family members who are learning to read, or who would love to sit with your kiddos and read for hours on end.

Now that you have a rough idea for what the days may look like, think about how you can make books work for you and take out some of the hard stuff about traveling. Feel free to get that cheesy romance for the beach. No judgement here! Maybe you want to bring along a child-friendly cookbook or science fair project book for Grandma and Grandpa to use with your kids while you run as far away as you can. Maybe you need to be holed up in London every day from noon until 2pm while your child sleeps off the jetlag. Or maybe you know you need to read to unwind after the aggravation of the rental car queue…

Step three: Books to download

Now we get down to it! If you’re planning on using books on any devices, check up on your Audible, Scribd, Libby, Kindle Fire, or whatever you use for your books, and stock up before you leave, so no lack of wifi is ever going to get you down. Write down the books you’re dying to read or listen to there, and download them!

Step four: Tech pack it

If you’re like Jill and Amanda, you have a lot of tech related to your reading these days. From kindles to headphones to splitters and chargers for all. the. things, you don’t want to be left stranded with a bunch of new books to listen to or read on that e-reader with no way to do it!

Step five and six: Book pack it

We separated this into two boxes so you can distinguish between different categories of books if you’d like. Say, children’s and adult’s books. Or leisurely reading vs. work-related. Maybe “task” books like journals vs. reading books. Maybe you’re doing one of these worksheets for each member of your family, and you just write down all those novels you’ve been saving up for yourself.

The main point is, don’t forget to pack your books!

Extra credit:

Hopefully you’re all set to go with your books. If you want to set aside the children’s books like Amanda does so they are fresh for your kids, you can add that to your calendar or right there on the worksheet.

I am keeping my completed sheets as a part of our travel journals, a sort of snapshot of what our family’s preferences are right now and another layer of memories for our trip.

Take a picture of the lists of books and tech that you bring so you can easily remember to bring them all back.

Let us know where you’re going next, and how you’ll be using books!