NPR's Backseat Book Club

If you're a kid who likes to read, we want to hear from you! Every month, we'll pick a Backseat Book Club selection. We hope you'll read it and send in your questions. At month's end, we'll put some of your questions to the book's author during our afternoon radio program, All Things Considered. Follow us on Twitter @NPRBackseat.

Roald Dahl Wanted His Magical 'Matilda' To Keep Books Alive()  

Lucy Dahl remembers that her father's writing hut was "a sacred place." Even on the days he wasn't feeling inspired to write, he'd go out there for hours at a time and "put his bottom on the chair." Click Here To Learn More About "The Story Behind The Storyteller."

November 14, 2013 For many young readers, Dahl is a beloved author. But to Lucy Dahl, he's also Dad. "Matilda was one of the most difficult books for him to write," she says. "I think that there was a deep genuine fear within his heart that books were going to go away and he wanted to write about it."

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After Getting 'Plunked' On The Head, A Little Leaguer Makes A Comeback()  

Plunked book cover

October 10, 2013 A young baseball player who gets hit by a fastball must find the courage to step back up to the plate. Michael Northrop, the author of Plunked, is no stranger to overcoming obstacles — he's dyslexic, and he says that learning to read was a real struggle when he was a kid: "I can't read fast. I can read carefully, though."

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How One Unkind Moment Gave Way To 'Wonder'()  

Wonder cover detail

September 12, 2013 A chance encounter with a little girl in an ice cream store inspired R.J. Palacio to write a novel about a boy born with distorted facial features. She says it got her thinking about what it's like to "have to face a world every day that doesn't know how to face you back."

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'Dork Diaries' Reveal Secrets Of 'Not-So-Fabulous' Teen Life()  

Pages 8 and 9 of Dork Diaries

August 8, 2013 Rachel Renee Russell's very popular series stars a not-so-popular protagonist. The Dork Diaries are written by Nikki Maxwell, a misfit at a new school. Russell was inspired to write the books after seeing her own daughters struggle with the "dork" label during their teenage years.

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100 Best Books

The Ultimate Backseat Bookshelf: 100 Must-Reads For Kids 9-14()  

Illustration: Ultimate Kids' Bookshelf

August 5, 2013 Earlier this summer, NPR's Backseat Book Club — our book club for young readers — asked you to weigh in on your favorite books for kids age 9-14. We heard from more than 2,000 of you, and our expert panel has whittled your hundreds and hundreds of nominations down to a list of 100 great reads.

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Lessons In Bigotry And Bravery: A Girl Grows Up In 'Glory Be'()  

Glory Be book cover detail

July 11, 2013 It's the summer of 1964, and everything's changing for 11-year-old Glory. She was looking forward to celebrating her 12th birthday at the local pool, but the town has shut it down to avoid integration. Members of NPR's Backseat Book Club share their questions with author Augusta Scattergood.

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The Best Books For Kids Age 9-14? You Tell Us()  

NPR's Back-Seat Book Club

June 25, 2013 This summer, with your help, we're assembling the Ultimate Kids' Bookshelf — a collection of 100 titles every 9- to 14-year-old should read. What was your favorite book when you were that age? Weigh in with your nominations.

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July Kids' Book Club Pick: 'Glory Be'()  

Glory Be book cover detail

June 21, 2013 It's the summer of 1964 in Hanging Moss, Miss., and 11-year-old Gloriana Hemphill is about to learn a lot about bigotry, loyalty and bravery. Join NPR's Backseat Book Club as we read Glory Be, by Augusta Scattergood.

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Meet 'Ivan': The Gorilla Who Lived In A Shopping Mall()  

The One and Only Ivan cover

June 13, 2013 Katherine Applegate's The One and Only Ivan was inspired by a real-life gorilla who lived in a mall in Tacoma, Wash. The author says humans have "a real obligation" to care responsibly for animals in captivity.

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The Complete List: What NPR's Backseat Book Club Has Read So Far()  

Carina Jaffe, 3; Larissa Jaffe, 9; Denali Jaffe, 10; Zahra Jaffe, 6; and their friend Christina Tonnu, 8, read The Phantom Tollbooth together in Philadelphia.

June 13, 2013 Looking for a great read for a kid age 9-14? Here are all the titles our kids' book club has read since we launched in 2011. We revisit classics like Black Beauty and The Phantom Tollbooth and explore new stories like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Graveyard Book.

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'Lunch Lady' Author Helps Students Draw Their Own Heroes()  

Author Jarrett Krosoczka teaches a drawing class to a group of third- and fifth-graders at the Walker-Jones Education Campus in Washington, D.C.

May 23, 2013 Can you imagine your own superhero? That's the question author and illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka posed to kids on a recent afternoon at a school in Washington, D.C. Krosoczka also described how he overcame a difficult childhood to become the author of the beloved Lunch Lady series.

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Following The Yellow Brick Road Back To The Origins Of 'Oz'()  

"The Monkeys caught Dorothy in their arms and flew away with her."

April 15, 2013 Before the movies, Broadway musicals and Halloween costumes, L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was a smash hit of a children's book published in 1900. NPR's Backseat Book Club goes back to where the Yellow Brick Road began with children's book historian Michael Patrick Hearn.

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Witches And Wizards: A Scrapbook From The Land Of Oz()  

Middle and high school girls participate in the Dorothy's House and Land of Oz program in Liberal, Kan.

April 10, 2013 The Yellow Brick Road is a well-traveled one; generations of young readers have followed L. Frank Baum's path to the magical Land of Oz. This spring, as members of NPR's Backseat Book Club embarked on their own journeys to the Emerald City, we asked you to share your Oz memories and photos with us.

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A Young Artist Finds Solace In Creatures Of The Sea And Sky()  

Parrotfishe by James Prosek.

February 28, 2013 Long before James Prosek became a world-famous artist and naturalist, he was a kid who used art as a way to work through the ups and downs of childhood. "When I went into the woods, it was the first time that I felt like something was mine," he says.

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With Audubon's Help, Beat-Up Kid Is 'Okay For Now'()  

"Arctic Tern" from John James Audobon's Birds of America.

February 25, 2013 Fourteen-year-old Doug Swieteck has the weight of the world upon him — no friends, an alcoholic father and a brother who has just been injured in Vietnam. But the protagonist of this NPR Backseat Book Club book finds solace in an unlikely place — the pages of Audubon's Birds of America.

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In 'Red Pyramid,' Kid Heroes Take On Ancient Egypt()  

The Red Pyramid

December 19, 2012 Our latest pick for NPR's Backseat Book Club is The Red Pyramid, a tale of two kids who must rescue the world from Egyptian gods. Author Rick Riordan, a former schoolteacher, combined his obsession with books with his passion for mythology to write this book about ordinary kids doing heroic things.

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How 'Black Beauty' Changed The Way We See Horses()  

Black Beauty book cover

November 2, 2012 In 1877, Anna Sewell wrote a novel about human kindness and cruelty — all from the point of view of a horse. In the decades since, Black Beauty has been embraced by generations of children, and has helped change the way we treat and think about horses.

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Gross-Out Gags AND Life Lessons In 'Wimpy Kid'()  

Illustration from Diary of a Wimpy Kid

June 29, 2012 Author Jeff Kinney is a rock star in the middle school literary scene. His Diary of a Wimpy Kid books follow the misadventures of sad-sack sixth-grader Greg Heffley, who just wants to fit in. Kids love the gross-out humor, but librarians and teachers say the books also help them laugh at the indignities of life.

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'Mysterious Benedict': Solve A Puzzle, Save The World()  

The Mysterious Benedict Society cover detail

March 26, 2012 Puzzle-solving genius kids form a pint-size crime-fighting Mod Squad in this month's Backseat Book Club pick. Trenton Lee Stewart, author of The Mysterious Benedict Society, takes questions from young readers about the book's twists, turns and creative conundrums.

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Both Community And Garden Grow In 'Seedfolks'()  

cover image

April 24, 2012 An inner-city Cleveland community is drawn closer together as it works to transform a dirty vacant lot into a lush communal garden in Seedfolks. Author Paul Fleischman says the title came from an old word meaning "ancestors."

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