Author Spotlight: Karina Glaser

Let's start things off with introductions, what is your name and where are you from? 
My name is Karina Yan Glaser, and I was born in Chicago, moved to Los Angeles when I was in first grade, and moved to New York City for college. I still live in New York City now, in a neighborhood called Harlem. My parents are originally from China, and I was the first person from both sides of my family to be born in the United States.

Tell us about your most recent book.
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street is a story about five kids who are trying to convince their third floor neighbor and landlord to renew their apartment lease five days before Christmas. They resort to all types of bribes, good deeds, and blackmail in order to convince their landlord to let them stay in their home!

When did you decide you wanted to be an author? 
I wrote my first book when I was in first grade. My dad brought it to his office and made photocopies, and I signed copies for my family. It was about two kids who wanted a pet, so basically it was a non-fiction book about my brother and me.

What were your middle grade years like? 4th, 5th grade? Did you enjoy reading or writing? 
My family moved a lot when I was growing up. By the sixth grade, I had attended six different schools, and it was really hard to find friends since I was always the new person. (I was also very shy back then!) I spent a lot of my recesses reading or in the library, and I always found books and stories to be very comforting in the midst of so much transition.

What was your favorite book as a child? What's your favorite middle grade book currently (aside from your own)? 
Oh my gosh, I cannot choose a favorite! I loved so many books growing up. Back in fourth and fifth grade, I loved The Baby-Sitter's Club series by Ann M. Martin, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigburg, Matilda by Roald Dahl, the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. My current favorites are too long to list! I read and recommend middle grade books for a book website, so I read hundreds of amazing books every year. Here are a handful of my current favorites: See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng, Matylda Bright and Tender by Holly M. McGhee, Ghost by Jason Reynolds, The Best Man by Richard Peck, The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt, Ice Whale by Jean Craighead George, the Chains trilogy by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall, The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly, the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon trilogy by Grace Lin, A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, and The Birchbark House series by Louise Erdrich. Is that enough? I could happily list a hundred more!

What connections can students make with your book/books? Why should our teacher put your books in our library? 
I came from an immigrant family that lived in the suburbs, and growing up I was often lonely and loved books with big families set in New York City. To me, New York City seemed like a magical place! So I set out to write a book about a large family living in contemporary New York City, and I thought about what some big challenges would be for this family. Housing insecurity is a huge issue not only in New York City but around the country and world, and I thought lots of kids would be rooting for the Vanderbeekers to stay in their home and community because the security and importance of home is something we can all relate to.

If you could recommend any books to us as 4/5th graders, what would it be? 
Have you heard of Gene Luen Yang? He's the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, and he has a challenge called Reading Without Walls. It asks readers to expand their reading horizons and read outside their comfort zone. 
He gives three suggestions: 
1. Read a book about a character that doesn't look or live like you, 
2. Read a book about a topic you don't know much about, and 
3. Read a book in a format you don't normally read for fun.

In the spirit of that challenge, I recommend the following books:
For challenge #1: It Ain't So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas, Cilla Lee-Jenkins, Author Extraordinaire by Susan Tan, Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia
For challenge #2: Ghost by Jason Reynolds (about running), A Dog in the Cave by Kay Frydenborg (about human and dog evolution), The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich (about a Native American family during the pioneer years)
For challenge #3: Real Friends by Shannon Hale (graphic novel), The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan (book in verse), and Freedom Over Me by Ashley Bryant (picture book)

Last question, any advice as young readers and writers?
Read, read, read! Carry a notebook around because you're never going to know when writing inspiration will strike!

Thank you so much for participating in our author spotlight! 
This was so fun! Thanks for inviting me!

**Interested in pre-ordering Karina's book, click below to purchase from Amazon!**


  1. Thanks a ton for finding the time to line all of this out for us. This kind of posting has been quite helpful if you ask me. What are some of the cheapest places to travel to in the world? From Asia to Africa and Europe, things to do 's got budget breakdowns for the cheapest ...


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