“To Be Where You Are” by Jan Karon

Posted on September 18, 2017

In To Be Where You Are, Jan Karon welcomes readers back to Mitford and Meadowgate in alternating chapters. We’ve gotten so immersed in Jan’s delightful books that it’s like we’re “livin’ in a whole other place,” as Coot Hendrick thinks about his current read.

As always, Father Tim ministers to the people around him, reflecting, “Wasn’t his own town a mission field?” Cynthia relishes the joys of being Granny C to four-year-old Jack Tyler, whom Dooley and Lace are in the process of adopting. Married almost four months, Dooley and Lace are facing a financial crisis that turns their home upside down. Each of Dooley’s siblings faces new challenges. Avis Packard and Grace Murphy both have major storylines, and it’s good to get to know both of these characters better.

The novel covers October 1 through December 25, then jumps to June 2 of the following year, when Cynthia gets the desire of her heart. The specific dates in the chapter titles highlight the daily nature of life, reminding us that Jan writes to “applaud the extraordinary beauty of ordinary lives.” She explores the themes of the importance of community, the meaning of family, and the necessity of forgiveness in powerful ways.

When Lace is struggling with a major painting project, she ponders: “It was not to be like a poster that gives fleeting pleasure, or a painting on the side of a barn that fades with time, it was not to be ephemeral. It was to be an actual place to the onlooker, impervious to time, with chickens scratching in a dust that never settles.” This is a perfect description of the beautiful world of Mitford that Jan Karon has so lovingly, diligently, and skillfully created. Most of the junk that is published today is as fleeting as a poster, and a few things fade more slowly like a painting on the side of a barn, but Jan’s books are deep and authentic and powerful and true and lasting. Mitford IS an “actual place to the onlooker,” as her legions of devoted readers can testify.

To Be Where You Are is available in several formats:

A reader’s guide for book clubs is available free on Jan’s website.

You can learn more about Jan’s books on her website and follow her on Facebook.


Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links. This doesn’t cost you anything extra, but I make a small commission when you purchase through them.




How to Shop a Library Sale

Posted on March 4, 2017

Hi! I’m Mary Jo, and I’m a book addict.

Everyone: “Hi, Mary Jo!”

Seven months ago I moved from Mississippi to Tennessee, and I still haven’t unpacked the last 20-30 boxes out of the 160 boxes of books I hauled across the state line. Even so, in addition to randomly buying a few books now and then since my move, I acquired 3 more boxes of books at the going-out-of-business sale at Bookman/Bookwoman, a delightful bookstore in Nashville that closed at the end of 2017—much to my dismay, especially since I now live within easy driving distance.

So when my assistant teacher told me about the Williamson County Library book sale this weekend, I told him—in front of the entire class of 7th-8th graders—not to tempt me because I. Would. Not. Go.

Of course, somehow I found myself at the book sale this morning anyway. My van is apparently preprogrammed to drive to book sales, almost against my will. Almost. I even kept up the pretense of self-discipline by taking in only 2 of the 3 tote bags I keep in the car for just such emergencies.

I’m reasonably selective about buying new books, but secondhand book sales are another matter altogether. The books are inexpensive, and they might not be there later if you don’t buy them when you first spot them. Stocking up at a library sale or thrift store is a relatively low-risk gamble—even if you’re not sure you’ll like an impulse purchase or you have a sneaking suspicion you might already own a copy of one (or more, ahem) of the books you’re buying.

Today’s haul provides a good example of my strategy in practice:

  1. Build your own home library.
  2. Collect books by and about favorite authors.
  3. Collect books about favorite topics.
  4. Take a few risks.
  5. Build your children’s library.

By the way, I teach a one-hour workshop on choosing and using good books for the whole family. You can find out more about that on my speaking page.


Build your own home library.

This category, of course, encompasses all the others, but I’m thinking here about intentionally building a collection of classic literature and a wide variety of nonfiction books as a personal reference library. “Will you read all of those?” the library-sale volunteer inquired as I hefted two overstuffed bags to the “counting table.” Well, not necessarily, and certainly not any time soon. But they’ll be there if and when I need them.

Last fall I started teaching 7th-8th-grade English, logic, and Bible at Franklin Classical School in Franklin, Tennessee. We go through a two-year cycle of ancient and medieval literature, so I picked up Plato, Sophocles, and a book of Arthurian legend. True confession: I will probably never read Sophocles II . . . but I own (and have taught) Sophocles I, so buying it just seemed like the right thing to do. I once indexed a book about hard-boiled detective writers, including Dashiel Hammett, and The Maltese Falcon is a classic in that genre. I loved the work of Edgar Allan Poe when I was younger, but now I find him a bit too creepy. However, I couldn’t pass up this annotated edition of his stories—which I’m pretty sure weighs more than at least one of my sons at birth.


I’ve been homeschooling my 4 sons for 20 years now, so I collect good books on topics like art. Janson’s Story of Painting made a nice addition. My third son, Perry, and I enjoyed a visit to the Biltmore Estate a few years ago, so I was glad to find this lovely photo book. (Photography is forbidden inside the estate. Killed me not to photograph the amazing library there.) I collect books about various crafts, and the historical approach to Period Pastimes seemed like an interesting spin. I have several books about quilting (and a single almost-finished quilt of my own, as well as a few I’ve inherited), but The Nature of Design intrigues me because it focuses on “the mind of an artist in the process of creating art.” I collect books about creativity too, but this one will probably be shelved with quilting books.


Collect books by and about favorite authors.

I’ve read and collected Elisabeth Elliot for many years, but I didn’t have Keep a Quiet Heart. Now I do. My oldest son, Forrest, is a die-hard Tolkien fan. We had to fight a custody battle over our shared Tolkien collection when he went to college and then later when I moved, so I’m building up my collection again. Of course I already have several copies of The Hobbit, but I didn’t have the movie tie-in edition. (Don’t get me started on the many ways the movies diverged from the book. I just have to accept them as separate artistic entities.) I really enjoyed The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews, and I’ve heard him speak (He’s fabulous!), so I picked up a copy of The Heart Mender.

When I want a lighter read (not all reading has to be studying and annotating Augustine’s City of God), I often turn to John Grisham and Maeve Binchy—both excellent storytellers. I’m not crazy about Playing for Pizza and Bleachers because I just don’t care about sports, but I’m about half-sure I don’t have these two, and I want a complete collection. If, when I unpack my Grisham collection, I discover I already have these, it’s no big deal. They were only 50 cents apiece. Reasonably sure I don’t own The Innocent Man; I think I read a library copy. Again, at 50 cents, it’s not a big gamble. I own most of Maeve Binchy’s books, but I’m not sure about London Transports. Binchy’s work led me to Patrick Taylor, another Irish author. (I visited Ireland a few years ago and fell in love with the country!)

I’m certain I already own all of these Agatha Christie mysteries, but not in these editions. Even serious bibliophiles might think my Christie collection is over the top. I buy as many different editions of all of her books as I can find. They’re a fascinating case study in publishing history. My favorites are the ones with the lurid, groovy covers from the 1960s—much more lurid than the plots, in fact. These more recent cover designs are downright boring—especially the ones with the white backgrounds. One of these days I’m going to finish cataloging and shelving my Christie books, and I’ll write a post (or several) about it.


Collect books about favorite topics.

I’ve always been fascinated by the topic of organization, and I wrote about it in my own book, Flourish. I have 5 filing cabinets, so I definitely need advice about taming the paper tiger. I’m pretty sure I already own Organizing from the Inside Out, but there was enough doubt in my mind to justify a $2.00 gamble. (Are you starting to see a pattern here?) As an author and editor, I collect books about writing. I’ve never read Elizabeth George’s fiction, but I happened to notice a display copy of this book on my way into the library, so when I found a copy on the sale table, I figured I should buy it. I’m not a great cook—in fact, I barely get by in the kitchen—but I love biographies, especially of successful women, so I grabbed this biography of Julia Child. My interest in her was triggered by the movie Julie and Julia.


Yep—I’m a crazy cat lady as well as a crazy book lady. Just last night I was unpacking a few boxes of children’s books, and I noticed that we have quite a few picture books about cats. How to Be a Cat Detective: Solving the Mystery of Your Cat’s Behavior was actually on my Amazon wish list after a fellow editor and cat-lover recommended it to me just last week. Dixie was fascinated by these and quickly disarranged my photo shoot. She’s more artistic than I am. (Cat not included with book purchase.)

The Nature of Design and Period Pastimes from the “Build Your Own Library” category would fit here as well. Just like some books fit in more than one collection, some fit in more than one book-buying strategy.


I’m most excited about these two. I’ve always been fascinated by beautiful gardens and had collected quite a few books, but vegetable gardening was a terrible failure. In fact, I was planning to sell most of my gardening books, until I bought my new house in Tennessee, which came with a beautifully landscaped yard and lots of flowers. A garden-loving friend (who happens to be the same as the cat-loving friend mentioned above) inspected my garden and told me that while it’s not no-maintenance, it’s low-maintenance, and she thinks I’ll enjoy working in it. So Diane Ackerman’s book Cultivating Delight: A Natural History of My Garden was a perfect find. I also picked up The English Vicarage Garden just because the cover image was so enchanting . . . and then I saw that it has an introduction by Miss Read—one of my favorite authors. It’s going to be hard to decide where to shelve that one; I’ll probably put it with Miss Read rather than the how-to gardening books. This is a great example of why I love the serendipity of book-hunting!


Take a few risks.

I’ve already talked about the low-risk gamble of buying duplicates of books you may already own. Here I’m talking about moving out of your book comfort zone and trying new authors and topics. I picked up two P. D. James titles because I’ve been binge-reading other female mystery writers (Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Margery Allingham, and now Dorothy Sayers) for several years, so I thought I’d give James a try. Seabiscuit gets a lot of praise, and I live in horse country now. I don’t read a lot of poetry, but I love to travel, so Songs of the Open Road caught my eye. I’m eager to visit Italy someday (“eager” is an understatement), so A Tuscan Childhood looked appealing. I love to visit places with literary or historical significance, so I grabbed the American Heritage Guide to America’s Greatest Historic Places. If any of these turn out to be bad choices, I’ll donate them back to the library. No big deal. But they might be fabulous.


Build your children’s library.

I always give my boys books for every Christmas and birthday. (I give them other gifts too, but books are always included.) I also pick up anything I think they’ll find interesting or useful when I’m binge-buying at a library sale.

My oldest son, Forrest, is buying my old house in Mississippi (which he’s currently renting from me) after he gets married in May. It’s an as-is deal, and he and his bride-to-be plan to do a lot of repairs themselves, so The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Trouble-Free Home Repair is for them. My second son, Andrew, is a junior in college and trying to figure out what he really wants to do in life. Barbara Sher’s book I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was is already on my own shelf, but I picked up a copy for him today. My third son, Perry, will soon be entering nursing school, so I picked up Prescription for Nutritional Healing as a reference for alternative medicine to complement the traditional approach he’ll be learning in school. North American Wildlife is a must for every homeschooler’s home library. I already own a copy, but I picked up a spare, which I’ll give to whichever son is the first to start homeschooling his own children someday.

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s book-collecting adventure. What are your favorite kinds of books to add to YOUR home library? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

P.S. I guess I’ll have to confess this to my class next week.

Autobiography of a Bibliophile

Posted on March 5, 2015

Autobiography of a Bibliophile


It’s my grandmother’s fault.

Every time I visited her during my childhood, she’d give me books. Not just two or three books, but a boxful of books. She was a fourth-grade schoolteacher, and when she ordered from the book club for her class, she stocked up for me as well.

Actually, my love of reading goes back even further than that, to the hours upon hours my patient parents spent reading aloud to me. Johnny Gruelle’s Raggedy Ann books stand out in my memory—and they’re still on my bookshelf.

But my passion for collecting books is my grandmother’s fault.

It started innocently enough with the paperback editions of children’s classics that she provided: Charlotte’s Web, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, my well-worn copy of Little Women.

Pretty soon, random paperbacks weren’t enough.

My obliging parents supplied me with a set of hardcover Little House books in dust jackets (the price on my beloved copy of Little House on the Prairie is only $4.95) and the sixteen-volume set of The World Treasury of Children’s Classics in matching royal-blue bindings.

In my middle- and high-school years I rambled across Prince Edward Island with Anne Shirley, journeyed to Narnia with the Pevensies, explored Middle-Earth with Bilbo and Frodo, and wandered the moors with Jane Eyre. I shared the secret room with the Jews in Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place and learned to trust God’s sovereignty with Joni Eareckson.

In college I fell in love—with the fiction of Charles Dickens, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Jane Austen, and fellow Mississippian Eudora Welty. I also began to build my own library of books on theology and Christian living: Francis and Edith Schaeffer, Jerry Bridges, C. S. Lewis, A. W. Pink, J. I. Packer, Sinclair Ferguson, R. C. Sproul, Elisabeth Elliot.

In graduate school I came under the tutelage of Matthew J. Bruccoli—professor, author, publisher, and book-collector extraordinaire—who initiated me into the world of F. Scott Fitzgerald and instructed me in the fine arts of editing, bibliography, and serious book collecting: first editions, limited editions, states and issues, dust jacket variants, books with blurbs or forewords or introductions by my favorite authors, magazines with their stories or articles. The Eudora Welty collection I built in those years won a $300 prize from the university’s library society.

I was such a faithful patron of the University of South Carolina bookstore’s special-order desk (the titles I wanted were seldom in stock) that the clerks gave me a copy of Goodnight Moon— complete with stuffed bunny in blue-striped pj’s—when I gave birth to my first child just before finishing my master’s degree.

The transition from the rarefied halls of academia to the realities of motherhood at home was comparatively easy. Educating my sons has led me into new realms of reading and book collecting. My shelves of home education resources feature the works of Charlotte Mason, Karen Andreola, Catherine Levison, Ruth Beechick, Raymond and Dorothy Moore, Clay and Sally Clarkson, Susan and Michael Card, Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn, and Susan Schaeffer Macaulay.

I’ve had the delight of encountering authors I’d somehow missed like Eric Carle and the d’Aulaires, revisiting childhood favorites (I wept with my children at the death of Charlotte the spider and rejoiced anew at the resurrection of Aslan), and discovering a whole new side of the Little House books. In my girlhood I had focused on the dolls, the nine-patch quilts, and the romance between Laura and Almanzo; reading the books with my boys reminded me that they’re also full of Indians, wild animals, and adventure.

Then there are all those wonderful children’s series to collect: Landmarks, Childhood of Famous Americans, All About books, American Heritage Junior Library, Horizon Caravel, World Explorers.

Of course, if you’re serious about building a home library for your family, you need plenty of books about selecting books: Honey for a Child’s Heart, Books Children Love, How to Grow a Young Reader, A Landscape with Dragons, Who Should We Then Read?, All Through the Ages.

Ultimately, there is a generous genre of books about reading, publishing, and bibliophilia. I found kindred spirits in Helene Hanff’s 84, Charing Cross Road and Leona Rostenberg and Madeleine Stern’s Old Books, Rare Friends, which occupy the same shelf (well, actually two shelves) in my office as The Open Door: When Writers First Learned to Read; The Delights of Reading; A Passion for Books; The Book on the Bookshelf; Between Covers: The Rise and Transformation of American Book Publishing; At Home with Books: How Booklovers Live with and Care for Their Libraries; and A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books.

Naturally, I require a place to shelve all these treasures: 17 bookcases in my home office, 8 in the living room, 5 in the dining room, 2 in the kitchen, 3 in the schoolroom, 3 in the hall, 9 in the bedrooms. Not to mention all those boxes of recent library-sale acquisitions that I haven’t even shelved yet….

And it appears the obsession is hereditary—or at least contagious. My four boys all show symptoms of bibliophilia, ranging from early read-aloud addiction to full-blown collecting mania.

Three-year-old Thomas is seldom still for more than a few seconds, but just read aloud to him and he’ll snuggle in your lap for hours. Pooh is his current favorite.

Seven-year-old Perry is the most ardent advocate of our family read-aloud times: “Please, Mom, just one more chapter of Carry On, Mr. Bowditch?”

Nine-year-old Andrew (whose preferred location for burying his nose in a book is on top of the monkey bars) recently moved some of his favorite science books to a special shelf in his own room “because I love them so much.” When I handed him The Boy Scientist and The Romance of Chemistry to add to his collection, his eyes got big as saucers and his jaw dropped in delighted amazement.

Forrest, almost twelve, saves his allowance for hardcover Redwall books, treasures two shelves of books by and about J. R. R. Tolkien (and regales visitors with obscure details of the history of Middle-Earth), and is building an impressive library of books about explorers—the topic which ignited his enthusiasm for the study of history. On his eleventh birthday he welcomed an addition to that collection with a comment that would warm any bibliophilic mother’s heart: “Oh, Mom, I needed another book about Sir Francis Drake—I only had one!”

If my children’s addiction is hereditary, it’s all my grandmother’s fault. But somehow, I don’t think she minds.


This article first appeared in Confessions of a Bookjunkie (Bookjunkie Press, 2004) and was reprinted in the May/June 2004 issue of Homeschooling Today.

What can you learn from a single chapter of a classic novel?

Posted on September 26, 2014

How much can you learn about a novel from the first chapter? That was my experiment in today’s literature class (for homeschoolers in grades 9-12).

I read the first chapter of Jane Eyre aloud and asked my students to tell me everything they noticed that might provide a clue to the rest of the novel. Here are some of their comments:

  • John Reed will be beaten up — at least I hope so! [Several of the guys said they would be happy to teach John a lesson.]
  • Jane will leave the Reeds.
  • Jane could be really happy later, but she could also be really devastated.
  • This doesn’t sound like what a ten-year-old would say. Is Jane a reliable narrator?
  • Jane is a bookworm and artistic. She is very descriptive and uses vivid imagery.
  • Jane will be kicked out and won’t trust people for a while.
  • Sounds like a Cinderella story.
  • There won’t be a happy ending.
  • Jane will have problems in the real world because she is an orphan.
  • I’m not used to a story told in first person. This is very different from Pride and Prejudice. Not sure I like it.
  • Where is Mr. Reed? Why isn’t he controlling his family? Maybe he’s a jerk too, or maybe he’s nice but uninvolved. I think it will be worse if he’s nice but uninvolved.
  • Jane seems strong now. Will she turn out to be a weak character? I hope not.
  • Jane is streetwise.



That’s a lot to get from 4 1/2 pages! If you’ve read Jane Eyre, you’ll know whether or not these theories were on target. I added only these observations — based strictly on the first chapter, without spoilers from the rest of the book:

  • There’s a lot of emphasis on atmosphere, mood, and setting — mostly dark and gloomy.
  • Jane has usually been “obedient” to John out of self-protection, but when she finally has enough, she turns on him.
  • The one happy bit is when Bessie (who’s not always nice to Jane) tells the children stories from old fairy tales, ballads, and novels, so we know that Jane’s imagination has been fed.

All the students were eager to continue reading. In fact, I suspect it will be hard for some of them to stop at the end of volume 1 (chapter 15), our first week’s assignment, although I asked them not to read ahead. (One guy commented that if John Reed doesn’t get his comeuppance by the end of this week’s reading, he will have to keep reading until he finds out what happens to him!)

This was a really fun exercise that sparked a lot of discussion. I may try it again with another book!

Do you have a favorite way to introduce a new book to your students?

A Melville-Mitford Monday Mash-Up

Posted on November 26, 2013

Call me Bibliophile. Some hours ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and no patience left with the incompetent and oblivious people I encountered in a long day of shopping, I thought I would travel about a little and revisit Mitford. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily becoming hypercritical and impatient, and bringing up the rear of the slowest-moving line in every store; and especially whenever my crankiness gets such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the aisle, and methodically knocking people’s carts over—then, I account it high time to get to Mitford as soon as I can. This is my substitute for psychotherapy. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the novel. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all readers in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the books with me.

Here in Mississippi, it’s been unseasonably cold for November, and a near-freezing, persistent rain has fallen all day. Not an ideal day to run about to 11 different stores for Thanksgiving groceries, office supplies, pet supplies, etc. I’ve been irrationally cranky all day, mentally overreacting to the traffic and the crowds and the S.L.O.W. cashiers.

Last week I had assigned bits of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick to my homeschool co-op literature class, so the opening paragraph was in my mind. Ishmael’s “damp, drizzly November” was both literal and figurative for me today.

As I drove from store to store, however, I listened to John McDonough’s wonderful reading of Out to Canaan, the fourth book in Jan Karon’s delightful Mitford series, and it soothed my soul.

Product Details

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read the Mitford books. Jan Karon’s invitation in The Mitford Bedside Companion rings so true:

Just as we visit loved ones again and again, so you may go again and again to Mitford. Sometimes for refreshment. Often for peace. And always for hope.

Have you visited Mitford? If you haven’t, I invite you to experience its beauty and balm right away.


P.S. – For your reference, here’s the opening paragraph of Moby-Dick that inspired my Melville-Mitford Mash-Up on this cold, drizzly Monday:

“Call me Ishmael. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.”

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through one of these links, I’ll earn a small commission.


Literature of the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation

Posted on October 18, 2012

One of the things I love about homeschooling is the opportunity for students to read whole books rather than textbook snippets. Every Friday I teach 18 students in grades 9-12 as part of a weekly homeschool co-op, and it’s thrilling to see these young people reading and discussing classic literature.

We spend most of our classroom time on discussion, not lecture. I discovered several years ago that if I let students do most of the talking, they end up addressing most of the issues in my carefully prepared lecture notes. Encouraging them to think deeply about what they read, to journal about it, and to share their opinions in class has a much more powerful impact than, for example, giving multiple-choice tests about the factual details of the books.

Our literature books coordinate with the time period we’re studying in history. This year we’re studying the literature of the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation. Here’s our reading list:

  • Confessions by St. Augustine
  • Beowulf
  • The Song of Roland
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • The Inferno by Dante
  • The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  • Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves (adapted from Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, Book I)
  • Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
  • Paradise Lost by John Milton
  • Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
  • Selected poetry and essays

So far, Augustine’s Confessions and Beowulf have been big hits with my students. The Song of Roland didn’t go over so well; one student described it as “a morbid Dr. Seuss,” while another called it “a sing-along murder song.” I’ll be eager to see what they think about Sir Gawain and the Green Knight this week.

How do you teach literature in your homeschool?

P.S. – You may also be interested in these posts about the literature of antiquity and modernity:





Celebrate Homeschool Freedom Day!

Posted on August 7, 2012

On the first day of public school in our town, we celebrate Homeschool Freedom Day (a term I coined years ago). Whether or not our homeschool year has started, we DON’T have lessons that day. Instead, we celebrate, usually by going to the park for a picnic with homeschooling friends . . . just because we can!

We revel in the freedom and flexibility that homeschooling makes possible. (The generally smaller crowd at the park when government school is in session is a nice bonus.)

This year we made only a short trip to the park—having a picnic in 93% humidity just wasn’t that appealing—so we enjoyed lunch in the air-conditioned comfort of our favorite Mexican restaurant, Mi Pueblo. Fajitas, fun, and freedom!

[They really were having fun…until I pulled out the camera.]

I’d love to hear how your family celebrates Homeschool Freedom Day! And if you like the idea but school has already started where you live, just pick a day . . . any day . . . to celebrate your freedom. The Specific Holiday Date Enforcement Squad will never know.

Homeschooling Today’s 20th anniversary prize sign-up

Posted on June 17, 2012

Homechooling Today has been part of my family’s homeschool journey almost since the beginning. I’m honored to write the “Literature through the Centuries” column for the magazine and still enjoy reading each issue after 15 years of homeschooling.

To celebrate their 20th anniversary, Homeschooling Today is hosting 20 weeks of fabulous prizes AND special Grand Prizes worth hundreds of dollars!


I’ve donated a copy of my time management course How Do You Do It All to the prizes.

You can enter the drawing for all the prizes here.

The weekly prize drawing is open to anyone, but only subscribers are eligible to win grand prizes. You’ll find an abundance of practical tools, encouragement, and inspiration for your homeschooling.

Join me for the Ultimate Homeschool Expo!

Posted on April 23, 2012

Looking for encouragement and practical tips for your homeschool journey? Join me for the conference you can attend at home!

There are dozens of speakers on a huge variety of topics ranging from communication to computer science to couponing! I’ll be speaking twice–once on overcoming interruptions and distractions and once on building a home library and teaching your children to love books.

Hope you can join us!

Click Here to Checkout The Ultimate Homeschool Expo!

83 Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day!

Posted on February 9, 2012

83 Ways to Celebrate Valentines – February 1-14, 2012. Celebrate with us by receiving a gift!

Includes history of Valentines Day, Homeschool Activities, Crafts, Special Family Activities and much more

I am partnering with “How To Homeschool My Child” to bring you a special gift on Monday, February 13, 2012.

Go to http://www.HowToHomeschoolMychild.com now to sign up on the home page for 14 February Freebies.

The Freebies start on Feb 1 with a free ebook- 83 Things to Do to Celebrate Valentines and my gift to you on Feb 13, 2012.

“How To Homeschool My Child” will also send a special gift from all of their homeschooling partners on each day of the first 14 Days of February, but only to their subscribers. So don’t miss out on some wonderful offers to keep on homeschooling the best way possible this year!

Mary Jo

ps. Sign-up now so you don’t miss a thing!