Soon after I first purchased and read The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street (by Book Riot’s own Karina Yan Glaser!) for my school’s library, I fell in love with the quirky Vanderbeeker siblings and their quest to save their home. Immediately, I wanted to read more books like The Vanderbeekers.
The Vanderbeeker family has lived in their brownstone on 141st street for years, but their landlord recently informed the family they have to go. Determined to change the mind of the curmudgeonly landlord, AKA the Beiderman, the five Vanderbeeker siblings band together in a plan that involves plenty of hijinks, laughs, and family love.
In addition to a fun plot, The Vanderbeekers’s tone made it such a delightful book for me. The whole book has a feeling of coziness and warmth that makes you wish you were living right alongside the characters, exploring the city with them. If you have a middle grade reader looking for similar middle grade books or series, or you just want to find a similar read, a great way to find them is to sign up for Book Riot’s TBR service, where a bibliologist matches readers with personalized suggestions! To find more books like The Vanderbeekers series, check out the titles below and then read on to learn more about TBR!
The Doughnut Fix by Jessie Janowitz
If you liked the quirky personalities of the Vanderbeeker kids, each of whom has their own unique gift, you’ll appreciate the siblings in this story. Tristan’s sister Jeanine gets perfect grades and a spot in the gifted and Talented program, but Tristan has their mom’s gift for baking tasty treats. When the family is uprooted from New York City to what Tristan terms “the middle of nowhere,” he decides to go on a quest for the town’s secret chocolate cream doughnut recipe to prove to himself and his family how talented he is.
Linked by Gordon Korman
The latest release from beloved children’s author Korman tackles hard issues through the eyes of middle schoolers. Link, Michael, and Dana’s quiet town gets a wake-up call when their school is vandalized with antisemitic graffiti. As the three classmates try to find out who is behind the hate crime, and more swastikas appear around town, they come face to face with not only issues in the present but the crimes of the past as well.
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Like The Vanderbeekers, Louise Fitzhugh’s books are wonderful for the way they allow young readers to see New York City through the eyes of a kid. Growing up, I loved reading about Harriet’s adventures and her independence in navigating city life, and this book still hooks middle grade readers today.
A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus
If you or your child likes books about families, pick up this historical fiction novel about three orphaned siblings at the beginning of World War II. After their grandmother dies, Anna, Edmund, and William are sent to a country village for the war’s duration. As they endure unfriendly homes and loneliness, the three children find comfort in each other and Nora Muller, the town librarian. This is a book with plenty of love and warm fuzzies to go around!
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
The Gaither Sisters is a good choice for anyone who loves books about kids on adventures. Delphine and her sisters have been sent to Oakland, California, from Brooklyn, New York, to spend time with the mother they barely know. However, it turns out that their mother is not too thrilled by their arrival and resents their intrusion on her activism, so she packs them off to a Black Panthers summer camp where the girls spend the summer of 1968 learning about how fast the world is changing around them.
Winterhouse by Ben Guterson and Chloe Bristol
Another series for upper elementary and middle grade readers, Winterhouse incorporates elements of fantasy and mystery, along with a creepy, old house. Elizabeth Somers is an orphan shipped off to Winterhouse Hotel, but she doesn’t mind too much. After all, there’s a library full of secrets and the strange but welcoming Norbridge and his family to keep her company. When Elizabeth finds a book that might help her lift the curse that’s been set on Winterhouse, she’s determined to use it and help save her new home.
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
A classic of books about boisterous and loving families, this is the story of sisters who, along with their new friend Jeffrey, spend the summer exploring the Arundel estate. From outdoor explorations to eating the cook’s gingerbread cookies, this is a story of a beautiful childhood summer that families will love.
All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
This book, along with Harriet the Spy, formed my childhood dreams of New York. Set on the Lower East Side at the turn of the twentieth century, the everyday adventures of these five “stair-step” sisters are ones I still recall fondly to this day. Fans of historical fiction will love this book!
Josephine Against the Sea by Shakirah Bourne
This book draws on Caribbean mythology to introduce us to Josephine, a lovable, mischievous 11-year-old who’s determined to scare away anyone woman who tries to date her dad. Her plan? Distract him from dating by joining the school’s cricket team. The catch? Coach Broomes won’t allow girls to join the team, and a frustrated Josephine cuts into a silk cotton tree, thus summoning a sea witch who is determined to become her new stepmom. Can Josephine find a new plan before it’s too late?
Glitter Gets Everywhere by Yvette Clark
Like the Vanderbeekers, Kitty faces a big move: from London to New York. Ever since her mother died, Kitty worries that leaving London will mean leaving her memory behind. But as Kitty explores her new city, she learns that memories can travel with you and that with the help of some new friends, she can make wonderful memories in her new home, too.
Unsettled by Reem Faruqi
When Nurah and her family move from Karachi, Pakistan, to Peachtree City, Georgia, she’s mostly focused on trying to blend in at her new school. When she meets lonely classmate Stahr at swimming tryouts, she’s happy to find another girl who wears a covering swimsuit, though for different reasons, and Nurah makes it her mission to become a star swimmer and Stahr’s friend.
Take Back the Block by Chrystal D. Giles
Just like the Vanderbeekers, Wes Henderson is facing eviction from his beloved home. In Wes’s case, it’s because a developer has offered to buy Kensington Oaks, and no one in his community can agree on what to do. With all the grownups fighting, can Wes and his friends find a way to save their neighborhood?
The Year I Flew Away by Marie Arnold
Gabrielle is thrilled to be moving to America from Haiti, even if it means temporarily leaving her parents and living with relatives she doesn’t know that well. But when she arrives in Brooklyn, it’s a lot less welcoming than she hoped, and Gabrielle struggles with the language and cultural barriers she faces. When a witch offers to make her “American,” Gabrielle readily agrees, but she doesn’t realize all that she’ll be giving up to get her wish.
Many Points of Me by Caroline Gertler
Georgia Rosenbloom’s father was famous for a series of paintings: the first of a bird, the second of himself, and the third of Georgia’s mother. Everyone tells Georgia that the fourth painting, which her father died before completing, was going to be of her, but Georgia isn’t so sure. When she finds a sketch of herself similar to the other three paintings, she goes on a quest through the museums of New York City to learn more about her father’s art and find out if the sketch connects her to the last painting.
365 Days to Alaska by Cathy Carr
Rigel Harman loves her life in remote Alaska: hunting rabbits, going to school by mail, and living in a two-room cabin under an endless sky. However, her world is disrupted when her parent’s divorce and Rigel, her mom, and her sister move to Connecticut. Rigel’s only hope is the deal she made with her dad: stick it out for one year, and then she can return to Alaska. Can Rigel survive 365 days in the suburbs? And is it possible that her new home has some wilderness of its own?
If you’re looking for more books like The Vanderbeekers, more middle grade suggestions, or some tailored recommendations for readers of all kinds, check out TBR! TBR provides readers with three book recommendations a quarter, with the option to either receive written suggestions or a selection of three new hardcovers that will be mailed to you. TBR is a great way to find new books that fit your taste and would also make a perfect gift for the avid reader in your life!