When Emmy-winning journalist and Good Morning America co-anchor Amy Robach and Andrew Shue, Emmy-winning actor and philanthropist, married in 2010, their union also joined together their five children from previous marriages. After a decade of parenting a blended family, Robach and Shue have gained plenty of insight on what it takes to love others just as they are and find common ground. We spoke with the couple about their desire to share this wisdom in their first book for children, Better Together, the story of two animal families learning to live in harmony in the same hollow of an oak tree.

What sparked the idea for this tale? Why was the timing right for you to try your hand at writing a children’s book?

When we first blended our family, we created bedtime stories about the animals in the backyard of our new home becoming a family and finding adventures together. We had chickens and we added in the squirrels, birds, and mice we saw to the stories. They helped our little ones feel connected to each other and our new lives together. Now with four out of our five children in college and beyond, we’ve only just now had time and perspective to try and help others who are in the middle of blending and raising their families.

Can you talk about your collaboration process a bit? How did it work and how smoothly did it go?

It was surprisingly easy and effortless! We wrote the first draft for the story in one night and then had some great help from our editor [Margaret Anastas, v-p and publisher of Flamingo Books], and came up with a story we all fell in love with immediately.

Why did you choose to portray the families as animals?

Thinking back to the animals that inspired the bedtime stories we told our kids in their new home, it seemed like a natural fit to create the Squirrely and McMunk families in Better Together. We hope that many families see themselves in these lovable and relatable characters.

With five kids in your own blended family, you surely have developed strategies for helping everyone to get along. Have you included any of your own personal philosophies or secrets for success in this story?

Absolutely! Adventure, curiosity, and an open mind and heart create a beautiful path for love and intimacy in any family.

What do you think are the keys to creating a harmonious blended family? Were there any specific challenges that arose in your household during the pandemic?

The number one key is to choose love over fear. We’ve had to learn that there’s no one right way to do something and we all can learn from each other. Personal space! We overcame it in tough moments by going outside and playing a friendly but competitive volleyball game.

What do your kids think about this project?

The girls are upset that they’re the squirrels and not the chipmunks because they think the chipmunks are cuter! Other than that, they are all very excited to see the story come to life to help other kids and families.

Better Together by Amy Robach and Andrew Shue, illus. by Lenny Wen. Penguin/Flamingo, $17.99 Oct. 26 ISBN 978-0-593-20569-3