Are you looking for the episode with Dr. Michael Gurian? That one is actually episode 82: Why Fidgeting is a Good Sign (and what brain science has to say about reading aloud), Dr. Michael Gurian

Today I’m sharing one of the best books I read last year. The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street is uniquely wonderful– a refreshing and upbeat middle grade novel featuring a loud and lively big family (5 kids and their parents), a curmudegonly landlord, a talented bunny, and enough witty dialogue to keep you warm for the rest of winter.

This is now my go-to recommendation for families who love The PenderwicksAll-of-a-Kind FamilyThe Saturdays or The Moffats.

The author’s dog is named Ginger Pye. So we knew she was gonna feel right at home here at RAR, right?

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • how a building or a place can (and did!) become a book character
  • Karina’s writing process (hint: she wrote her first books during NaNoWriMo)
  • books suggestions that celebrate families

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Listener Guide

Use the time stamps below to skip to any part of the podcast:

  • 4:59 Meet the Brownstone on 141st Street
  • 7:01 First book!
  • 13:50 Writing class lessons
  • 15:03 Karina’s writing process
  • 19:03 Middle grade book love
  • 23:16 Karina’s favorite books as a child
  • 25:53 ‘Mom’ as a writer
  • 27:47 A character like Karina
  • 28:50 Advice for Writers
  • 32:09 Karina’s favorite recent books
  • 33:33 What’s next for The Vanderbeekers

A couple takeaways …

  • When setting becomes more.

“You paint such a vivid picture of Harlem in The Vanderbeekers. I think as readers we experience the brownstone house that the Vanderbeeker family lives in– and their Harlem neighborhood– as a character in the story, and I just love that so much.” (Sarah)

What other books turn the setting into characters? Share those books and discuss this idea with your kids.

  • Just write.

“I liked the way that NaNoWriMo has a philosophy of just write, don’t erase anything, don’t delete anything, just write. And, I think that’s a really great way for people who get stuck in writing.” (Karina)

Do your kids get stuck? Maybe encourage this practice, even if it isn’t for long – 5 minutes? 10?

Books from this episode:

(All links are Amazon affiliate links.)

Episode 88
Five Children and It

Five Children and It

FROM SARAH

Five siblings discover a sand-fairy who will grant one wish a day... so they've got to use those wishes carefully! This classic tale is a delight.

FROM THE PUBLISHER

When Cyril, Anthea, Robert, Jane and their baby brother go digging in the gravel pit, the last thing they expect to find is a Psammead – an ancient Sand-fairy! Having a Sand-fairy for a pet means having one wish granted each day. But the children don't realize all the trouble wishes can cause ...

More info →
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Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

The Cuthberts are expecting a boy to help work on their farm, Green Gables. Instead, they get “Anne with an e,” who will surely win girls’ hearts with her spunky personality and big imagination.

More info →
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All-of-a-Kind Family

All-of-a-Kind Family

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

Set at the turn of the century, All-of-a-Kind family is about 5 kids living with their kids in New York. There’s lots of everyday life in this book, but there’s also a surprise just around the corner …

More info →
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Half Magic

Half Magic

FROM SARAH

It’s such a boring summer, so when Jane finds a coin, she wishes something exciting would happen. Of course, it does! A funny and classic family tale for all ages.

FROM THE PUBLISHER

It all begins with a strange coin on a sun-warmed sidewalk. Jane finds the coin, and because she and her siblings are having the worst, most dreadfully boring summer ever, she idly wishes something exciting would happen. And something does: Her wish is granted. Or not quite. Only half of her wish comes true.

More info →
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The Penderwicks

The Penderwicks

FROM SARAH:

One of my tippy-top recommendations... if your kids haven't met the Penderwicks yet, it's time! A summer of misadventure ensues when four sisters meet a very interesting boy (and a couple of rabbits, too!) at a summer cottage in New England. Boys and girls alike enjoy this whole series. Hear Jeanne Birdsall talk about writing this series on her episode of Read-Aloud Revival.

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

This summer the Penderwick sisters have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel's sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts.

More info →
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The Moffats

The Moffats

** Description from Amazon: Meet the Moffats. There is Sylvie, the oldest, the cleverest, and-most days at least-the responsible one; Joey, who though only twelve is the man of the house. . .sometimes; Janey, who has a terrific upside-down way of looking at the world; and Rufus, who may be the littlest but always gets in the b...

More info →
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Ginger Pye (Young Classic)

Ginger Pye (Young Classic)

$6.99

** Description from Amazon: Meet Ginger Pye, the smartest dog you'll ever know. Jerry Pye and his sister, Rachel, feel pretty smart themselves for buying Ginger. It was the best dollar they ever spent. Ginger steals everybody's heart . . . until someone steals him!

More info →
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The Saturdays (Melendy Quartet)

The Saturdays (Melendy Quartet)

Meet the Melendys, an unforgettable family that lives with their beloved housekeeper in New York City. The Melendy kids are tired of wasting Saturdays, so they start the Independent Saturday Afternoon Adventure Club. And just what will happen on those Saturdays, I wonder?

More info →
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Little House in the Big Woods: Little House, Book 1

Little House in the Big Woods: Little House, Book 1

$3.95

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! NARRATED BY: Cherry Jones, BEST FOR AGES: 5+

More info →
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The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids

The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids

$16.99$9.99

Connecting deeply with our kids can be difficult in our busy, technology-driven lives. Reading aloud offers us a chance to be fully present with our children. It also increases our kids’ academic success, inspires compassion, and fortifies them with the inner strength they need to face life’s ch...

More info →
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The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

FROM SARAH:

When their landlord decides he's not going to renew the Vanderbeekers' lease, the five Vanderbeeker kids launch a full-blown mission to change his mind. Highly recommended for kids of all ages (I read it to all six of my kids, from preschool through teen). A practically perfect family story that's first in a wonderful series. Meet the author, Karina Yan Glaser, in her Author Access replay in RAR Premium.

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

More info →
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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Modern Classics)

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Modern Classics)

$18.99
Author:
Series: Episodes, 088
Tag: Episode 88

**Description from Amazon: The American classic about a young girl's coming-of-age at the turn of the century. From the moment she entered the world, Francie needed to be made of stern stuff, for the often harsh life of Williamsburg demanded fortitude, precocity, and strength of spirit. Often scorned by neighbors for her fami...

More info →
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The Birchbark House

The Birchbark House

**Description from Amazon: "[In this] story of a young Ojibwa girl, Omakayas, living on an island in Lake Superior around 1847, Louise Erdrich is reversing the narrative perspective used in most children's stories about nineteenth-century Native Americans. Instead of looking out at 'them' as dangers or curiosities, Erdrich, d...

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See You in the Cosmos

See You in the Cosmos

$16.99
Author:
Series: Episodes, 088
Tag: Episode 88

**Description from Amazon: “I haven't read anything that has moved me this much since Wonder.” —Jennifer Niven, author of All the Bright PlacesA space-obsessed boy and his dog, Carl Sagan, take a journey toward family, love, hope, and awe in this funny and moving novel for fans of Counting by 7s, Walk Two Moons, and...

More info →
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Skunked!: Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet

Skunked!: Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet

$5.99
Author:
Series: Episodes, 088
Tag: Episode 88

**Description from Amazon: From Newbery honor author Jacqueline Kelly comes Skunked!, a new illustrated chapter book series for younger readers featuring the beloved characters from The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. In Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet, Callie Vee, Travis, and Dr. Pritzker help animals big and small.When soft-hearted T...

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The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

$7.99
Author:
Series: Episodes, 088
Tag: Episode 88

**Description from Amazon: In this witty historical fiction middle grade novel set at the turn of the century, an 11-year-old girl explores the natural world, learns about science and animals, and grows up. A Newbery Honor Book.“The most delightful historical novel for tweens in many, many years. . . . Callie's struggles to...

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