All ABOARRRD…the E Train is leaving the station!!! This is a ride you will want to hop on, as I talk today with eleven-year-old podcast sensation E Train.
E Train is a sixth-grade bibliophile, who reviews middle grade books and interviews many award-winning, best-selling authors and other notable members of the children’s book industry for his wildly successful “E Train Talks” podcast.
He currently has over 2,800 followers on Twitter (including me!) and has the most extensive and inspiring bow tie collection I have seen in quite some time. I have dressed accordingly for this interview (see inset).
Hilary Margitich: E Train, welcome to Writers’ Rumpus! Thank you so much for joining us today. I am a huge fan of yours, and I love watching your podcast.
E Train: Wow! Thank you for such a warm welcome, and thank you for having me on the Writers’ Rumpus blog! It’s truly an honor to share my reading journey on such a wonderful blog.
HM: Can you tell me how you got started reviewing books and interviewing people in the children’s book community? How did this idea come to you in the first place?
ET: I started reviewing books in fourth grade for a school project. We were challenged to write a short review of every book we read. I really enjoyed the opportunity so much in fact, I continued reading and writing reviews even after the challenge was over, and as you can see, I’ve never stopped! I decided to share my book thoughts on my YouTube channel which I had previously used to share my piano and trivia videos. Eventually, it dawned on me to start a book podcast where I can share my book reviews on a wider and more accessible platform. Thus began E Train Talks, and I’ve been reviewing books and interviewing authors ever since!
HM: I see that we love many of the same books–I am also a huge fan of Lisa Fipps’ Starfish and Lisa McMann’s “The Unwanteds” series. What kinds of things do you look for in a book, particularly when you are selecting one to read and feature on your podcast?
ET: The writing community has been so supportive of my journey, and I’m so grateful. I’m a huge fan of middle grade stories, from realistic and historical fiction, to mystery and adventure, to mythology and fantasy. I really love reading stories that have a deeper meaning or message that slowly reveals itself within the pages of the read. I always enjoy getting lost in all types of MG genres, and I find that I usually know if I’m hooked within the first one hundred pages of a story. In order for me to feel like a book has really drawn me in and is keeping my interest depends on how well I connect with the protagonist. If I feel like I’m connected to the voice of the main character, it’s usually a sign I won’t want to put the book down. The type of story doesn’t really matter because I love all kinds of books. The more original the storyline, the better. I discovered some of my favorite stories through virtual book clubs, like Starfish!
HM: You offer such a unique and valuable perspective to kids listening to you, because unlike the rest of us book reviewers and interviewers, you actually are a kid. You understand middle grade readers in ways that the rest of us can’t possibly. What kind of message do you hope kids take away from your program?
ET: I was inspired to create E Train Talks because I downright love reading and everything literature, but I also started my podcast in the hopes of inspiring other kids to want to read! I mean, it’s such a wonderful feeling, sharing book reviews and author interviews, and motivating other middle graders and potential readers to get excited about books and reading! Truly a dream come true! Even better, when I make a reluctant reader excited to read a story I’ve featured. My main goal is to shine a light on the wonders of middle grade books and the storytellers behind them, and my hope is that I get others to read and enjoy the books talked about!
HM: Now a fun question: if you could interview any children’s book author dead or alive, who would it be and why?
ET: Like most middle-grade fanatics, I’d absolutely love to meet Rick Riordan, who’s very much alive and still writing absolutely phenomenal books! His “Percy Jackson” series inspired me to start reading fiction in the first place. Without his stories, I may not have had a podcast! I’d also be honored to meet Lois Lowry, author of The Giver and Number the Stars. Such remarkable and interesting reads! It would also be a fascinating experience to meet Charles Dickens, author of Oliver Twist and so many other classics. It would be fun to hear about his interpretation of today’s world, and hear about his writing process.
HM: What are your dreams for the future, E Train? What kinds of things would you like to do as you get older?
ET: My dream is to have a job connected to books. Whether I’m a teacher, librarian, or author, I want to be close to stories. I could be teaching kids how to read, or writing my own novels. Books have always been a part of my life, and I hope they’ll continue to be through my future profession. Otherwise, being a journalist is another top job choice!
HM: Can you tell our readers where they can follow you on social media, and where they can listen to your amazing podcast?
ET: Sure! You can follow me on Twitter (@ETrainsWorld) or Instagram (@ETrainTalks). You can also watch my interviews on my “E Train Talks” YouTube channel, or listen to “E Train Talks” on Spotify, Anchor, and now Apple podcasts. Lastly, you can find most of my book reviews, author interviews, and anything else I might be doing on my website www.etraintalks.com.
HM: E Train, this has been such a pleasure. I loved getting a chance to meet you and hope our paths cross again soon. Keep up the awesome work!
ET: Thank you again for having me on your Writers’ Rumpus blog. I enjoyed answering your questions very much and I’m so grateful for how much support I’ve received from you and the entire writing community.
E Train is an eleven-year-old literacy advocate and podcast host. E Train started reading when he was two-and-a-half years old and has never stopped. His love of stories inspired him to create his own “E Train Talks” literacy podcast show.
Since January 2022, E Train has been sharing book reviews and interviewing his favorite middle grade authors on his “E Train Talks” podcast and YouTube channel.
Along with reading and reviewing books, E Train devotes a great deal of time to spreading kindness and book joy within his community. He’s currently running a book drive to share donated books with schools and kids in his community, as well as organizing a #GivingTuesdaySpark campaign to spread inspirational bookmarks to local schools, libraries, and hospitals. E Train has been recognized in his school district as a champion of literacy and is being featured monthly on a local television morning news show. Through his literacy podcast, and other book-related projects, E Train hopes to inspire others to love books and reading as much as he does!