Karina Yan Glaser

Episode 2

Karina Yan Glaser

The Heart of the Story: Karina Yan Glaser Talks Empathy in Writing

Masthead Waves

About this episode

Karina Yan Glaser (The Vanderbeekers series) shares how and why empathy plays such an integral role in her writing. She tells us about her own reading experiences and how they shaped her, along with why she believes in emotional honesty when writing for children.


Maybe if they haven't been in that situation, they know someone who has, or they have friends who have really struggled with losing loved ones. That all helps build empathy." - Karina Yan Glaser


Karina Yan Glaser is always emotionally honest in her stories. Pulling largely from her own experiences, she lets her feelings seep onto the pages in a way that makes it impossible not to feel as a reader. But despite writing for children, she doesn't hide any of those hard emotions such as anger, sadness, and grief. She believes in the power of stories to help kids practice empathy and be prepared for the tough situations we all face in life. Her takes on community, diversity, and hardship are what make her series The Vanderbeekers such a success. In this episode of The Reading Culture, she joins to share how her own reading journey has shaped who she is as a writer and how she approaches building empathy into her stories.



  • Chapter 1 - Getting to know Karina (2:33)
  • Chapter 2 - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (7:02)
  • Chapter 3 - Becoming a Writer (15:16)
  • Chapter 4 - Empathy in Stories (18:56)
  • Chapter 5 - The Culture of Reading in Schools (28:29)
  • Chapter 6 - A Question From a Reader (32:15)
  • Chapter 7 - Beanstack Feature Librarian (35:21)


Karina's Reading Challenge

Download the free reading challenge worksheet, or view the challenge materials on our helpdesk.

Worksheet Page 1.   Worksheet Page 2



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