The Kids Are All Right

Tips for Engaging Reluctant Readers

Hi Kid Lit Fans!

It finally feels like summer in New York City and kids had their last day of school last week, so I thought for today’s post I would write about engaging reluctant readers. Reluctant reader recommendations are probably the question I get asked most (also my favorite question! I love a challenge!), so here are some of the things I’ve done in my literacy work in school settings and with my own family. See if any of these tips work for you!

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1. Continue to read out loud to kids even after they start to read independently. A couple of years ago, Book Riot managing editor Amanda Nelson and I spoke on her Get Booked podcast, and we got a question from a thirteen-year-old girl who talked about how her father still reads to her at bedtime. Not only was that so sweet, I have no doubt this girl’s love of reading was influenced by their shared reading time. My Book Riot colleague, Annika Barranti Klein, recently wrote a great post about Reading Aloud to Older Kids.

My kids are seven and nine, and they still love being read to even though they are both independent readers. Continuing to read out loud to them has been a great opportunity to share books I loved as a child but that my kids might not have picked up on their own. Right now, we are reading Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. The book is set not too far from where I grew up in California, so it has been nice to talk to them about that area and what the ocean looks like over there. It’s also a great opportunity to check for comprehension and clarify any confusing sections.

Reading books out loud at bedtime also seems to be a way to get my kids to talk. My older daughter doesn’t want to talk about what happened at school right after school (whatever I ask her, the response is, “Good” or “Nothing”), but she does open up sometimes at nights after we read.

If adding one more thing to the bedtime routine seems daunting, start small. Even just five minutes every night adds up to over half an hour of reading every week.

2. Audiobooks are excellent ways to engage reluctant readers. I check out our audiobooks online from our library’s website, which allows us to use OverDrive to check out books right onto the OverDrive app on my phone. We listen to audiobooks in the car, while my kids are bathing (using my trusty waterproof speakers), and sometimes during meals. It’s also fun to listen to audiobooks when the kids are drawing or cleaning up. We just finished See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng, a book that is perfect for audio since it is written like a series of transcribed audio files.

3. Let kids read what they want. (Even if it’s something you might not enjoy reading yourself.)

4. Look for books that still have graphic or illustrated elements in them. For younger readers (5-9 year olds), I love the Dory Fantasmagory series by Abby Hanlon, the Sidekicks series by Dan Santat, The Strange Case of Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger, The Year of the Dog series by Grace Lin, and the Phoebe and Her Unicorn series by Dana Simpson. For older middle grader readers (8-12 year olds), try Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson, the Secret Coders series by Gene Luen Yang and illustrated by Mike Holmes, Frazzled by Booki Vivat (the sequel comes out in September!), The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz and illustrated by Hatem Aly, and Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham.

5. Try books with larger print. I recently met the publisher Thorndike Press, which prints bestselling books with a more readable format (fewer words per page, and more white space). I took a look at their Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, which replaces the “handwriting” font of the original series with a more readable computer font. The books do not say “Large Print” on them and are designed to look like their smaller print counterparts, so there is no stigma attached to reading these books. There are lots of great titles in larger print, including I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.

6. Keep books everywhere. In the car, on the dining room table, and by the bed. Keep rotating books around so there are different choices to capture kids’ eyes and minds!

Lastly, I recently talked to awesome Laura Lambert about engaging reluctant middle grade readers on the Brightly website, which you can read here.

Picture Book New Releases!

Hattie and Hudson is Chris Van Dusen’s newest book, released last month. It’s a sweet story about a Loch Ness Monster-type creature that lives in a lake and emerges one evening when Hattie is singing. She names him Hudson, and they become friends until other people see him and want to rid the lake of him. Like all of Chris Van Dusen’s illustrations (he illustrates Kate DiCamillo’s wonderful Mercy Watson series), the colors are vivid, the scenes delightful, and the character’s facial expressions unforgettable.

Pass It On by Sophy Henn is a book bursting with color and a hopeful message about passing on the good things, such as laughter, a smile, good news, a sight of wonder, and a hug. It stars a multicultural cast of kids that you see hanging out in settings like a forest, an ocean, a rollercoaster, and a tree branch. Plus – there’s lots of colorful balloons in this book. Who doesn’t love balloons?

The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry by Dana Smith and illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline, was published in April, and it was such a fascinating read. The author’s father practiced falconry, and there are such interesting details about how the equipment used; the difference between various raptors, or birds of prey; the specific training needed to train a raptor; and where the birds sleep at night. The illustrations, as you can see from the cover, are stunning.

Early Chapter Book New Release!

Early chapter books are those wonderful “bridge books” between picture books and middle grade, and I love recommending them! Wallace and Grace is a sweet new series by Heather Alexander and illustrated by Laura Zarrin, about two owls that solve mysteries. Their first case, about a ghost in the garden, is very funny and full of misunderstandings. The second book, Wallace and Grace and the Cupcake Caper, is about a cupcake that goes missing overnight.

Middle Grade New Releases!

Ten: A Soccer Story by Shamini Flint (Clarion Books, June 20, 2017), is a fresh new sports story starring Maya, a girl growing up in Malaysia in 1986. Maya is a huge fan of soccer, and when her parents give her a soccer ball she teaches herself how to play using a rose bush as a training prop. But during a time period and place where girls soccer teams didn’t exist, Maya has to use all her resources to create an all-girls team with no coach, no uniforms, and no other teams to play against. This was a fun, inspiring story!

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia, author of the award-winning book One Crazy Summer, is a wonderful new read that combines the rhythm of jazz with the challenges of familial disappointment, grief, and growing up in complicated times. I loved Clayton’s voice, and reading about his relationship with his grandfather and how music bound them together was very touching and sweet. The School Library Journal says, “This complex tale of family and forgiveness has heart.”

Backlist Recommendations!

I recently picked up a copy of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Catwings book, and it is so sweet and perfect for the early chapter book reader. It is about a family of kittens who have wings. They live in the country, but one day they decide to go and find their mother who lives in the city. What ensues is a harrowing journey as they retrace their foggy memories for where they used to live before they were moved to the country. A must-read for all fans of cats!

As I mentioned before, I’m reading Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell out loud to my daughters. This was a book I remember my fourth grade teacher reading out loud to our class, and I still recall when my teacher got choked up and had to leave the classroom after reading a scene in the book. I remember that moment so vividly even decades later, and I think it was one of the first times I realized how powerful a book could be.

Okay, last thing! I needed to sneak in one shout out to the very awesome NYC children’s bookstore, Books of Wonder, who announced that they are opening a second location in New York City on the Upper West Side of Manhattan! Hooray! Their first store on 18th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues is a treasure in children’s bookstores, and I’m thrilled they are expanding. Congratulations Books of Wonder!

The bookshelves inside Books of Wonder! It’s magical!


That’s a wrap for this week! I’d love to hear what you think about the newsletter, or about what books you’re reading and enjoying. Find me on Twitter at @KarinaYanGlaser, on Instagram at @KarinaIsReadingAndWriting, or email me at Have a great week, and happy reading!


My rabbit Izzy wants you to read ALL THE BOOKS!

The Kids Are All Right

Children’s Books Buzz at BookExpo and SLJ’s Day of Dialog

Hey Kid Lit Fans!

Whew! I am still recovering from the excitement of Book Expo and School and Library Journal’s Day of Dialog, both of which were great fun. So many books to look forward to!

Sponsored by The Book Scavenger series by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

Calling all book lovers, puzzle solvers, and treasure hunters! Don’t miss The Unbreakable Code, the sequel to the bestselling novel Book Scavenger. Perfect for readers of all ages, Shelf Awareness says, “Fans of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library will appreciate the abundant literary allusions.” Join the hunt—start reading now!

At Book Expo, I noticed that Wishtree by Katherine Applegate (author of Newbery award winning book The One and Only Ivan) was one of the most anticipated books for the fall (September 26, 2017, Feiwel & Friends). The publisher set up an area where people could write their wishes on leaf-shaped sticky notes and put it inside the knothole of a cardboard tree. For every wish submitted, the publisher will donate a copy of the book, which was such a sweet idea. I got in line early at Book Expo (I may have scheduled my entire day around getting this book!), had my copy signed, and read the entire book that night. Katherine Applegate’s story is so gorgeous and timely, and fans of her work will not be disappointed.

Another popular book was A Time to Act: John F. Kennedy’s Big Speech by Shana Corey and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (published on April 4, 2017, NorthSouth Books). This book is the story of JFK and the impact of his landmark speech and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. R. Gregory Christie is the illustrator of the stunning Freedom in Congo Square, a Newbery Honor book in 2017, and his illustrations in A Time to Act are just as evocative and gorgeous.

Over in the Scholastic Booth, there was a lot of excitement for the next installment of The Baby-Sitter’s Club graphic novel, Dawn and the Impossible Three (September 26, 2017). This fifth book in the series continues Ann M. Martin’s incredible legacy and is illustrated by Gale Galligan. The previous four in the series were done by Raina Telgemeier, but it appears that the series is in great hands with graphic artist Gale Galligan.

Jason Reynolds was one of the stars of the week. Check out this ENORMOUS banner! The second book in his track series, Patina, will be released on August 19, 2017 by Atheneum. I cannot wait!

School and Library Journal’s Day of Dialog, which was held on May 31st, was a terrific librarian-only gathering. Keynote speakers included Gene Luen Yang, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and author of American Born Chinese and the Secret Coders series; Megan Whalen, author of Thick as Thieves from the Queen’s Thief series; and Kwame Alexander, Newbery award winning author of The Crossover and author of the upcoming book Solo.

Gene Luen Yang was charming and awesome. He spoke about his Reading Without Walls challenge, which encourages readers to explore books of diverse voices, genres, and formats.

I don’t have space to talk about all the amazing Day of Dialog panels, but I did want to share that I was on a middle grade panel with the legendary Katherine Paterson, and she signed my copy of Jacob Have I Loved! She was so gracious and kind, which confirmed my belief that children’s book writers are the best people on the planet.

New Releases!

I’ve read so many awesome books this week!

Green Pants by Kenneth Kraegel, a picture book published in March by Candlewick Press, is the cutest story of a boy named Jameson who only wants to wear his green pants. No other color will do. When he is invited to be in his cousin’s wedding, he learns that he has to wear a tuxedo – and it is not green. What will Jameson do? Can he make the switch?

Have you followed Candlewicks’ Instagram account? How cute is this photo where the Candlewick team wore green pants to celebrate this book release?

Chelsea Clinton’s newest picture book, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger, is called She Persisted: Thirteen American Women Who Changed the World. It features legendary women in history like Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Clara Lemlich, Nellie Bly, Virginia Apgar, Maria Tallchief, Claudette Colvin, Ruby Bridges, Margaret Chase Smith, Sally Ride, Florence Griffith Joyner, Oprah Winfrey, and Sonia Sotomayor. A terrific and informative book about the women who broke barriers and changed history.

A fantastic new non-fiction book that I read this week is called A Dog in the Cave: The Wolves That Made Us Human by Kay Fryenborg, published in March by HMH. Did you know that the first human domestication of dogs was 26,000 years ago? And did you know that dogs and grey wolves are almost identical in their genetic make-up, so much that they can interbreed? I learned so much from this book, and was blown away by the evidence that humans and dogs evolved together over history to their mutual benefit.

The graphic novel If Found… Please Return to Elyse Gravel is available now, published by Drawn and Quarterly. I absolutely loved this book, which is basically a copy of Elyse Gravel’s sketchbook filled with funny creatures, drawing tips, and words of encouragement for the budding artist. The message reminded me of the wonderful picture book The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken.

I just finished reading The Best Man by Richard Peck out loud to my nine-year-old daughter. It was the third time I read this book, released by Dial Books last September. It just won an honor for the E.B. White Read Aloud Awards. It was the perfect bedtime read aloud for us; we laughed and cried while reading it, and every time I finished a chapter my daughter would hold her breath, hoping I would read another chapter. Now that is an indicator for a wonderful book!

Backlist Bump!

My husband and I have been reading Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary as a bedtime read aloud to our seven-year-old daughter. That book explores such genuine emotions, especially the feelings of financial insecurity. It’s such an enduring classic and every chapter touches my heart. It’s still so relevant forty years after it was first published.


Other books I read out loud recently to both of my daughters was
The Search for Delicious and Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. Oh, the beautiful language in those books! These were perfect bedtime readings because the lyrical language was soothing and almost meditative. This was nice for my older daughter in particular, who needs time to let her brain settle down after a long day. Both of my kids loved these stories, which speaks their timelessness and wisdom. Have you read these books lately?

I was browsing the picture book section of my local library, and I came across A Hole is to Dig by Ruth Krauss, with pictures by Maurice Sendak. Oh, how I loved reading this book to my kids when they were younger! It is a small, compact book, so it was a perfect size to put in my bag when we were on the subway. We must have read this book hundreds of times, and I never tire of the words or the illustrations.


And for those of you who want more book recommendations…

Check out my list of 100 must-read middle grade books for the summer!

Also, climate change. We have a children’s reading list for that.


That’s it for this week! I’d love to hear from you about the children’s books you’re reading and enjoying. Find me on Twitter at @KarinaYanGlaser, on Instagram at @KarinaIsReadingAndWriting, or email me at Until next week!


Izzy exploring all the bookish goodies I brought home from BookExpo and SLJ’s Day of Dialog

The Kids Are All Right

Welcome to The Kids Are All Right Newsletter!

Hey Kid Lit Fans!

Welcome to the inaugural issue of The Kids Are All Right, Book Riot’s newsletter for all things kid’s books. I’m Karina Yan Glaser, Book Riot contributing editor and children’s book author and illustrator, and I am thrilled to be writing this weekly newsletter!

Today’s newsletter is sponsored by the Book Scavenger series by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman.

Calling all book lovers, puzzle solvers, and treasure hunters! Don’t miss The Unbreakable Code, the sequel to the bestselling novel Book Scavenger. Perfect for readers of all ages, Shelf Awareness says, “Fans of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library will appreciate the abundant literary allusions.” Join the hunt—start reading now!

Each week we’ll be exploring some aspect of children’s books, plus exciting new titles that are coming out as well as backlist recommendations.

This week, I’d like to talk about children’s literature podcasts! I love listening to podcasts in the morning when I’m getting ready for the day (yay for my bluetooth waterproof shower speaker!) or when I’m cleaning or making dinner.

First up, the Books Between Podcast. This is hosted by Corrina Allen, a fifth grade teacher. She is deeply passionate about children’s books, and she explores interesting topics, like How the Newbery Awards Work and Common Classroom Library Mistakes (And How to Fix Them). She also gives some great middle grade book recommendations at the end of the podcast (which I always put on hold at my local library immediately!).

The Yarn is an excellent School and Library Journal podcast hosted by Colby Sharp, an elementary school teacher, and Travis Jonker, an elementary school librarian. Their podcasts are very author focused, with each show featuring a different author of a newly released book. One of my favorite episodes features Grace Lin and her editor (and best friend) Alvina Ling at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. It was such a touching, behind the scenes story about the dedication of her National Book Award finalist book When the Sea Turned to Silver (and yes, I cried when I listened to it). Another great episode features Jason Reynolds, author of As Brave as You and National Book Award finalist Ghost.

Middle grade author Jack Cheng has an excellent podcast called See You on the Bookshelf. He is the author of See You in the Cosmos, one of my favorite middle grade books that have come out this year. His weekly podcast focuses on the publishing process, from how a book gets acquired by an editor to how it ends up on the shelves on bookstores. There are great interviews with his editors, publicists, audiobook producer, and many more people involved in the publishing journey.

Another podcast I enjoy is the All The Wonders Podcast, hosted by Matthew Winner. Matthew is an elementary library media specialist in Ekridge, Maryland, and this podcast focuses mainly on interviews with esteemed writers such as Nikki Grimes (author of Garvey’s Choice), Raina Telgemeier (author of Ghosts and Smile), Marla Frazee (author of The Boss Baby and The Farmer and the Clown), and Grace Lin (author of Ling and Ting and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon trilogy). There are hundreds of interviews on the podcast, so it’s very likely your favorite children’s book author is interviewed there!

My final pick is the Publisher’s Weekly PW KidsCast, another interview-based podcast hosted by John Sellers, the children’s reviews editor at Publisher’s Weekly. Amazing authors have been interviewed on this podcast, including Ann M. Martin (author of The Baby-Sitter’s Club series and Missy Piggle-Wiggle and the Whatever Cure), Jewell Parker Rhodes (author of Towers Falling), and Linda Urban (author of Weekends with Max and His Dad).

Are there kid lit podcasts that you love? Send a note to and let me know about it!

New Releases!

I just finished Laurel Snyder’s middle grade book Orphan Island, which is a story about nine kids each a year apart who live on an island on their own. Every year, a green boat comes to bring a new child and take away the oldest child. The story begins with the main character Jinny, watching the boat drop off Ess and pick up her best friend Deen. Jinny, now the Elder of the island, must teach Ess how to live and survive. The story is beautifully and hauntingly told, and I read it in one day. This title came out on May 30th.

Puffin Books never fails to delight me with their whimsical reprints, and this collection of classic middle grade titles are no exception. They partnered with Pantone to repackage The Secret Garden, Treasure Island, The Wizard of Oz, Anne of Green Gables, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Heidi, each with a distinctive Pantone color spectrum. These books will be released on June 6th.

Another new middle grade release I’m super excited about is One Shadow on the Wall (June 6, 2017, Atheneum Books for Young Readers) by Leah Henderson. Set in contemporary Senegal, it is about recently orphaned eleven-year-old Mor who finds himself struggling to honor a promise made to his father: to take care of his sisters and keep his family together. The Senegal sun burns from this book, and I was entranced from the first page.

Jabari Jumps is a delightful new picture book released on May 9th. The illustrations are gorgeous, and the story is so relatable especially as kids get ready for the pool and face that inevitable first jump off of the diving board. Jabari toes that line between wanting to jump and finding every excuse not too, including thinking about what special jump he wants to do and having to do his stretches. I adored this book!

Backlist Bump!

I’m enjoying two backlist titles right now. I am a huge fan of Wicked the Musical, which I recently saw with my nine-year-old daughter, and The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainini reminds me of that with it’s creative way of retelling fairy tales and flipping the hero/villain trope. I’ve been seeing lots of kids reading and enjoying this series lately, and I thought I’d better catch up! The fourth installment in this series releases on September 19, 2017.

And – Katherine Paterson. That lady can write! I read Bridge to Terabithia when I was young, but I had never read Jacob Have I Loved (first published in 1980s). Katherine Paterson weaves a beautiful story, and I cannot wait to get my hands on her new book (!!!) coming out on October 10, 2017, called My Brigadista Year. Check out the cover reveal and synopsis on Publisher’s Weekly here.

Well, that’s it for this week! Next week I will share exciting stories from the floor of Book Expo. Until then, happy reading!

– Karina Yan Glaser

This is my rabbit, Izzy. She guards my TBR pile.

The Kids Are All Right

Introducing The Kids Are All Right

It’s finally happening! Introducing The Kids are All Right: Book Riot’s kid lit and middle grade books newsletter! KA-BOOM!!