Super-duper Superhero Books

Super-duper Superhero Books

We wanted to give you some of our (and our podcast guest’s) favorite superhero books — along with some of the great themes you can focus on so there is less aggression/ fighting, and more super in your family’s super-duper superhero books.

First, if you missed it, head on over to listen to our episode with Dr. Sarah Coyne, professor of human development at Brigham Young University. We talk about how books that include some of your child’s (and maybe yours as well!) favorite characters can be powerful tools in conversations about some really great life lessons.

We realize not all superhero books are created equal, though. That’s why we compiled a list of great books for your little superhero to learn about loyalty, helping, making good choices, and more — mixed in with a lot of capes and spandex. We also included some books for your superhero who maybe isn’t so little anymore (or, you know, yourself)!

Picture Books

DC Superhero Bedtime (series, Batman pictured here) by Michael Dahl 

One thing that can be problematic about superheroes is that the majority of them were not created with children in mind, yet they are incredibly popular with young people. Sometimes very young children. This series of books is licensed to use those classic DC comic superheroes that your kids know and love, but on the reading and content level appropriate for picture-book-age kids. Everybody wins!

What should Danny do? (Series) by Adir Levy

This great choose-your-own-adventure book helps guide an interactive discussion about the superpower to choose. This book (and What Should Danny Do? School Day) are a great way to show how consequences follow choices, for good or for bad.

Super Manny Stands Up by Kelly DiPucchio

Mary Costello from Children’s Lit Love (Episode 23: Building Character with Picture Books) uses this adorable book to help in her family discussions about kindness and inclusivity.

Even Superheroes Have Bad Days by Shelly Becker shows up on The Book Report as a book to help teach values to our children. I can’t say it better than her, so I’ll just quote what Michelle says about this great picture book, “This is another great book for showing kids that we have to take responsibility for our own actions and emotions. We can’t blame others or take our problems out on others. We have to be problem solvers and take responsibility by making good choices.” See also: Even Superheroes Make Mistakes.

The Adventures of Sparrowboy by Brian Pinkney (black main character)

Part picture book, part comic book, this one follows a paperboy who, inspired by the comics he loves, becomes Sparrowboy, defender of his neighborhood!

Dex the Heart of a Hero by Caralyn Buehner is a great book to use if you’d like to focus on perseverance and the the payoff of hard work. Dex also gives a great foundation to talk about the power of friendship and helping others, even if they are your arch nemesis, the cat.

The Amazing Adventures of Bumblebee Boy by David Soman and Jacky Davis

You know the Lego Batman movie? How Batman is selfish/greedy/egotistical/insert-negative-attributes-of-lone-wolf-here? Well, Bumblebee Boy learns the same lesson Batman does: having a sidekick to help you out is a really good thing.

Ladybug Girl by David Soman and Jacky Davis

Ladybug girl is relatable to many kids. She is incredibly creative and uses her imagination when life just isn’t quite as amazing as we want it to be. Where many superhero books are set in a far-off world of fantasy, Ladybug girl needs to solve problems of being alone, an older brother who isn’t always nice, and other problems a child faces in an ordinary world. If you like this book for the creative play/imagination aspect, we also recommend Pretend by Jennifer Plecas.

Juvenile Fiction

Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

I bet you’ve never read a superhero book where the superhero is a squirrel, have you?! Unless you’ve already read Flora and Ulysses, that is. Being a Newberry Medal winning book, it digs a bit deeper than your average children’s superhero stories and tackles some difficult feelings around family relationships and divorce.

Read upcoming podcast guest, Sara Easterly’s, review of Flora and Ulysses here.

Kung Pow Chicken by Cyndi Marko (series)

Part graphic novel, part chapter book, Kung Pow Chicken is recommended by Janssen at Everyday Reading on her list of beginner chapter books, and we know why! This series is known to entice reluctant readers to laugh so hard they can’t put the books down. It can be hard to find laugh-out-loud humor in books that appeal to parents and kids, and this sets a great stage for talking about what appropriate humor is for your family, since this is good, clean fun. Side benefit is the vocabulary building from all the puns and plays on words combined with the pictures!

A Princess who is ALSO a Superhero! Princess in Black (series) by Shannon Hale wins our hearts – no surprise from Hale. While we talked a bit about many of Shannon Hale’s other books in our Princess Book List, her 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!

YA Fiction

Dangerous by Shannon Hale (Hispanic main character)

We promise we are not getting paid to advertise Hale’s books, we are just huge fans over here. Dangerous is definitely different from many of her other books, but also worth a read to visit a world where a girl can gain superpowers whilst away at summer astronaut camp!

Renegades (series) by Marissa Meyer

Marissa Meyer is a crowd pleaser, and we both love the Lunar Chronicles. Amanda started Renegades and it was a bit too dark for her taste, so proceed with this series after reading some reviews first. We couldn’t not include it on the list given its popularity, though.

Sidekicked by John David Anderson

This one came highly recommended by Jill’s nine-year-old nephew and we liked it just as much as he did! Middle-grade readers will relate to Andrew Bean’s life as an often-overlooked middle schooler and a sidekick- not superhero.

Lorien Legacy Reborn (series)

This is a series following the Lorien story line (that series begins with the book I am Number Four). We debated back and forth about whether to include this on the list, as it skirts a fine line between straight-up sci fi and superheroes. After multiple discussions debating what constitutes a superhero, Amanda decided that it should be included on the list because those who like superheroes will likely enjoy this series. There is some swearing, but overall the Pittacus Lore books are pretty clean, fast-paced, and potentials for getting your teen hooked on reading. The Legacy Reborn books are more of the superhero vein (the Lorien series is more clearly science fiction) and bring up quite a few conversation topics such as, “What should the world do with people of extraordinary abilities?” “What is freedom?” Additional topics include leadership, decision making, self-control, idealism, patriotism/nationalism, and global community. Think along the famous line, “with great power comes great responsibility” with this series.

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson kicks off The Reckoners series and can be a gateway book into Brandon Sanderson’s extensive repertoire. If you like fantasy, Sanderson is one you’ll want to know. His writing is extremely clean, making it perfect for younger audiences as well. Steelheart flips the table and looks at a storyline where those with super powers are actually the supervillains and the superheroes fighting against them are ordinary people. In addition to that theme, there’s ample more discussion material to talk with your family about, including

Graphic Novels–  

Public School Superhero by Chris Tebbetts and James Patterson (black main character)

Set in Anacostia in metro Washington DC, Kenny Wright opens the door wide to discussions about race, poverty, education reform, and more. We love Stainless Steel, his superhero impersonation, though the book is mainly based on Kenny’s actual daily life. The super lessons from this may range from making good choices despite peer pressure, being genuine to yourself, communicating with your loved ones, standing up for yourself, integrity, and more. Amanda listened to this as an audiobook and loved it. Recommended for middle schoolers and above.

Babymouse: Our Hero by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm

There is a whole series of graphic novels with the feisty Babymouse, but in Our Hero, the feisty mouse finds the inner superhero she needs to get her through the evils of her school day…also known as: gym class.

Lunch Lady by Jarrett J Krosoczka makes Janssen at Everyday Reading’s list of 13 best graphic novels. This is certainly not the only”best of” list where Lunch Lady makes an appearance, so be sure to check it out.

Hilo by Judd Winick and Guy Major (series)

If you want to laugh, really laugh, this is the book to do it. The characters in Hilo are diverse and everyone – especially the main character – is completely relatable. This is an excellent book to talk about our tendency to right wrongs and struggle to figure out our lives and ourselves, and most notably what we are good at when we feel like we aren’t good at anything at all.

You may also be interested in our post about princess books for all ages here

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:

Websites: 

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.

Libro.fm

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 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:

Websites:

Kids Health.org

Google Scholar

Books:

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

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 23: Building Character with Picture Books with Mary Costello

Episode 23: Building Character with Picture Books with Mary Costello

Building character with picture books is not even possible, we here at One Page at a Time argue that it’s fantastic. We hear about how one Bookstagrammer is using picture books to help their whole family learn 12 Character Traits in 2020.

This week we are joined by Mary Costello, the amazing woman behind the website, Children’s Lit Love. Mary spent years gaining her education in Child development and Elementary education before teaching elementary school for ten years. When he oldest was born she began using that wealth of knowledge and experience in her own home and now shares it with us on her website and Instagram account. 

In this episode we talk about:

1. How she went from being the book recommendation lady for all of her friends to her website now, which still has plenty of book recommendations, but also fantastic information on children’s literacy in general.

2. Their family’s journey this year to focus on developing different character traits with their children. They wanted to be very intentional about teaching their girls certain things, so they pick a new trait each month to talk about. Mary puts together the books and other things they have used so far and shares them all on her sites.

3. We talked a bit about the nitty-gritty of how exactly they have been putting this character trait plan into practice in their family and what roles she and her husband play in what they do.

4. Mary had some thoughts on how to do something similar if you do not have the same support from a spouse. She especially points out that by the end of the year she will have twelve character traits-worth of lists and information that anyone can use, thus cutting down on a ton of work and preparation for someone who wants to try it!

5. How has it been going so far for them? In Mary’s own words, “It is going so much better than we had imagined!” It has been fun and unifying for their family and they have been able to see the differences in their girls that their efforts have made.

6. Why books are such a good fit for what she and her husband are doing with the character traits in their family this year. 

7. How Mary handles the gathering and organization of the books she collects and uses for her monthly topics. 

8. And some great book recommendations to round us off!

We are so grateful to Mary for taking the time to talk with us! More information about her, her sties, and their family’s character traits development journey can be found in the following places:

In Building Character with Picture Books we mention:

Instagram:

@childrenslitlove

Websites:

Books

Molly and Mae by Danny Parker

Mindset by Carol Dweck

The Power of Showing Up by Daniel J Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

Clementine (series) by Sara Pennypacker

Henry Huggins (series) by Beverly Cleary

Ramona (series) by Beverly Cleary

Sharing a Shell by Julia Donaldson

Bear Feels Scared by Karma Wilson

Valentine Cats by Jean Marzollo

Excited for One Page at a Time’s Summer 2020 books and activities? So are we! Get started with the first week here

Books for a Rainy Day

Books for a Rainy Day

Jill Given

It’s pretty rainy where I live. All the green trees and bright flowers are a pretty great reward for the rain, but it’s sometimes hard to accept that all of these rainy days are the price I have to pay for that beauty. I quite often let the rain get me down and I plow through my day, just a little grumpier than I probably should be. Recently, I was talking to a friend and she told me that she gets through rainy days by giving herself permission to do those lazy, cozy, feel-good things, like drink a fun drink or watch movies. As much as I would love to indulge like that to get me through the bad weather, if I did that on every rainy day, I would never get anything done! 

Instead, I have decided that the next time I am feeling down on a rainy day, I am going to turn it into a reading day! I want to stockpile some new and exciting books for me as well as my kids and give us something to get excited about the next time it pours!

Here’s the list I have so far. If any of you have some ideas to add, please send them our way! Like I said- it rains a lot here. I’m going to need all the rainy day books I can get!

Soup Day by Melissa Iwai. A mom and her daughter spend a snow day making soup for the family. Hopefully it can inspire my kids and I to make something delicious on our rainy days!

10 Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle. When I feel like I am drowning in all this rain, why not embrace the feeling and follow the adventures of these rubber duckies navigating the seas, inspired by a real shipment of rubber ducks that fell off a cargo ship and floated around the world!

Chalk by Bill Thomson. This wordless picture book will remind us that even a rainy day shouldn’t stop us from having playground adventures!

The Big Umbrella by Amy Jun Bates and Juniper Bates. No rainy day would be complete without an umbrella and no rainy day book list would be complete without a book about an umbrella! While the story of this umbrella big enough for everyone is a delight, it is the illustrations that really captured my heart. I read this one to myself while my kids played at the library a while back and knew it would be perfect to wait and read it again with the kiddos on our next rainy reading day!