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
Anne of Green Gables
All-of-a-Kind Family
Half Magic
The Penderwicks
The Moffats
Ginger Pye (Young Classic)
The Saturdays (Melendy Quartet)
Little House in the Big Woods: Little House, Book 1
The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Modern Classics)
The Birchbark House
See You in the Cosmos
Skunked!: Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

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