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One of the benefits of homeschooling my girls is that despite their age difference, they both join together for reading.  When I conceived the idea of A Literary Tour of New York, it was for Grace’s 9th grade fall semester, but it also serves as Lilah’s 7th grade fall semester reading.  Harriet the Spy is not going to be found on any high school reading list, but it sparked the idea for this course and we are not discounting it since the themes the book explores pertain to teenagers (bullying, exploring individuality, strong female characters, income disparities, cultural issues, mother/daughter relationships and more).  
To extend our reading we explored the practice of book banning, censorship, and used technology to create an educational brochure about banned children’s books.  We created a hashtag #instabookclubharriet on Instagram and joined together with families across the country who were interested in reading this classic and posting pictures of their activities online.  Several children (Lilah included) spent hours creating elaborate maps of fictional towns and playing town, like Harriet did in the opening of the book.  We loved seeing our friends sharing in the same experience we were having in real time.  In this way Instagram truly can create community.  
We traveled to Manhattan on July 17th as virtual tour guides.  I had an itinerary of where we wanted to go based on research online as to where the address that served as the inspiration for Harriet’s home, her school, the park she played it and where her journal was taken, her friend Janie’s house, and the neighborhood she spied in.  It is all right there in the Yorkville Neighborhood on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.  

Here are my Instagram pictures of our trip:
Grand Central Station at noon.  Not too busy!

The Grand Hyatt Hotel....our favorite stop for organic snacks and clean bathrooms.

Taking the subway uptown to the East 80s.

A movie theater...perhaps similar to the one Harriet visited. 3rd Ave and East 87th St.

Harriet's Brownstone 558 East 87th Street from the park.  

Looking down Harriet's Street towards the park.

The park that Harriet always wrote in and where her journal was taken after school during a game of tag.  This is one of the most beautiful parks I have been to.

I would spend all my time writing here too!

or walking...

or watching the boats go by.  The girls were Instagramming their day too.

Gracie Mansion.  The Mayor's House.

A splash park.

A very cool independent bookstore Logos Bookstore, 1575 York Avenue.

Janie lived somewhere on this street...East 84th.

My research told me to stop here for an egg cream, like the one Harriet enjoys in the book.  Egg creams no longer have a raw egg.  Half and half + seltzer water + vanilla or chocolate syrup and blend.  That's all!  This is a great restaurant.  The pancakes and coffee were worth the trip alone.

Not the best picture but this is our vanilla egg cream.  We ate at the lunch counter.  It was very cool.

The 6:30 train took us home.  We met up with Greg and my mother who both work in midtown.  It was a very good day and the best kick off to our Literary Tour of New York City.


  1. Thanks for sharing here too. I might just have to get an Instagram account so I can follow others. I'm not a person who takes a lot of photos myself.

  2. What a wonderful, amazing day. Keilee and I LOVED following along. Instagram is so awesome for having a supportive community. I know so many families loved following along on your day too. We are going to try to make an Egg Cream!!! Love the pictures. I just wish we could have come along. :)

  3. To live that close to New York City is just completely awesome. There are so many wonderful places in New York I would love for Grace and myself to see. Especially musical shows. I too am contemplating joining up with the Instagram mania.


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