What We All Can Do

I have felt a range of emotions as I read and watch the news over the past couple of weeks. I generally try to see things from all points of view, and sometimes the media makes this hard to do. That’s why I read a wide range of media. I wish I could help more, but I think the best thing I can do is continue listening, learning and helping my children learn.

No matter what your political leaning may be, I think we can all agree that learning about other people and their experience is a good thing. During this time, it’s especially important to focus on why #BlackLivesMatter, and there are plenty of resources to do this. I try to read or watch a little something everyday — I don’t have a lot of time — but I bookmark a lot articles that I want to come back to later. I don’t typically share things on my blog that I haven’t already read or used, but in this case, I thought I would list a few of the resources I’ve found in case it might be helpful to anyone.

This is how I plan my homeschool too. I read booklists, and I slowly sift through materials until I find what I think will be most beneficial to my boys. I have already been planning a literature unit for next year that would include historical fiction set in the U.S. This way I can combine literature and history for my soon-to-be 8th grader. Of course, I wanted to include plenty of black writers in my list, so in this blog post you’ll find a few of the titles I’m looking at. While I might not include them all in my literature unit for next year, we’ll probably get them and read them anyway.

This is not an exhaustive list! It’s only a few items that I’ve found. Please share your own articles, books and resources in the comments below because I’m still looking! (I also want to thank my friend Diane Magras for recommending a few of the middle school literature books.)

Middle School Historical Fiction by Black Authors

Flygirl by Sherri Smith

The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson

Betty Before X  by Shabazz

Helpful Articles During This Time

For Our White Friends Desiring To Be Allies

What I Said When My White Friend Asked for My Black Opinion on White Privilege

10 Habits of Someone Who Doesn’t Know They’re Anti-Black

Anything on goodblacknews.org

For Adults to Consider

A History of Race and Racism in America, in 24 Chapters – A good list of literature to consider, if you want to explore this topic. Some of the works on this list are racist (so be sure to read the descriptions in this article) and others sought to destroy it. Some of my favorite books from my youth are mentioned on this list, such as Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, Roots by Alex Haley, and Beloved by Toni Morrison.

If you enjoy watching movies, you might like to peruse this list: Movies to Watch to Educate Yourself About Racism, Protests on Time

Book: Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum (There are many books on this subject that you can easily find by doing a search. This book has been around for a long time, and it’s been updated. I have been wanting to read it for some time.)

Talking to Kids About Racism & History

How to Talk to Kids About Race: Books That Can Help

Civil Rights Then & Now by Kristina Brooke Daniele

And Because I’m Raising Musicians

19 Black Musicians Who Have Shaped the Classical Music World  ❤️


Again, please feel free to add additional resources that you find to be helpful in the comments below. Thanks!

Worthy Reads

I’ve had this Worthy Reads in my queue for a long time, so these articles are a bit out of date. I apologize for that. As my focus shifts to working on my storytelling book, I won’t be able to do Worthy Reads or Inspire Kids as frequently. But if I come across anything interesting, I’ll be sure to share it with you!


Concerns about DFCS and homeschooling – Atlanta 11alive.com

Does homeschooling lead to better nutrition and weight? – SheKnows Parenting

Military bases open their doors to homeschoolers – philly.com

Homeschooling Inspiration

Learning to Love an Interest You Hate – Raising Cajuns – I loved this post.


The kids don’t play any more – The Globe and Mail – Thanks to @campcreek for sharing this on Twitter.


Trust Your Parenting Instincts – Building Boys – Yes, trust yourself!

Blog Business and Worthy Reads

MOL the photographs

Introducing Mama of Letters: the photographs!

Well, I wish I could say this was a long time in coming, but I have been using SmugMug for a long time, and recently they have rolled out a whole new array of options, which has made my account even better. I was able to create an attractive site with just the photos I use on Mama of Letters. If you are interested, you can view a slideshow for each gallery: our long-term projects, my son’s little projects, and my general homeschooling photos. My favorite gallery contains my nature photos and how I’ve tried to foster nature appreciation in my boys. (Psst….Some of these nature photos have not appeared on Mama of Letters!)

Note that this is different from my photography website: Shelli Pabis Photography. Though there is some overlap in the photos from that site, most of the photos I use on Mama of Letters are snapshots and not professional by any means. Some of them I take with my iPad. I still love them, though, because they are of my family and daily life.

There’s a link to this site in my right-hand margin. If you like photos and less verbosity, then you may enjoy it. 😉

Thank you!

I would like to thank everyone who took the time to comment and vote on a cover for my first e-book, which you can still do in my last post. The voting has been very close between two titles, but your thoughts and ideas have been very informative and helpful. I’ll surprise you with the final outcome.

Now for a little Worthy Reads:


Home school no longer just for the deeply religious – Los Angeles Daily News

Brace Yourselves, You’ve Chosen to Homeschool…Again – Catholic Sistas

Homeschooling Resources

Peg + Cat Equals Clever New Math Series – PBS Kids – a new cartoon on math!  I’m linking to the first episode here.


How Common Core is Slowly Changing My Child – mrsmomblog

My Daughter’s Homework Is Killing Me – The Atlantic

Worthy Reads

my little scientist


Over 100,000 African American Parents Are Now Homeschooling Their Children – North Dallas Gazette

Homeschooler tires of awkwardness – The Ranger – Be sure to read the comments too.

The Sinister Side of Homeschooling – The Daily Beast

Homeschooling Resources

World Book Encyclopedia Typical Course of StudyYES! They put this back on the web! (Thank you to whoever told me this.) I used to refer to this, and I was disappointed when they took it off the web. Luckily it’s back up, and I think you’ll find it very useful as a homeschooling check list.

Mud Puddles to MeteorsA new, beautiful blog for all you nature lovers!


Teaching ate me alive – Salon.com

My Insane Homework Load Taught Me How to Game the System – The Atlantic – This just depresses the hell out of me. via @campcreek – thanks!

When Less Is More: The Case for Teaching Less Math in School – Psychology Today

Can Afternoon Naps Help Preschoolers Learn Better? – Health Day


Yes, There’s a War on Boys in School – National Review Online

Esther Cepeda: The tough world of boys – Wisconsin State Journal


How to Fall in Love With Math – NYTimes.com

I’m an introvert, and I don’t need to come out of my shell – The Matt Walsh Blog – Thanks to Peggy for sharing this commentary with me.

Five Ways Introverts Can Be Annoying – Psychology Today – funny

Worthy Reads


When your first official day of homeschooling kinda sucks – The Cultivated Mother – I think we can all relate.

An argument against raising well-rounded kids – Penelope Trunk

From Homeschooling to Home Alone – World – Wow. This depressed me. It’s not how I want to homeschool. I liked what the commenters had to say.

8 Most Annoying Things You Can Say to a Homeschooling Mom – The Stir

Homeschooling in the media

Debunking myths surrounding homeschooling – The Province

Homeschooling Becomes More Popular in China – The Wall Street Journal – Suddenly I’m seeing lots of these articles about homeschooling in China, yet there’s only about 2,000 homeschoolers in a country of over 1 billion people! Still, it will be interesting if the trend continues.

Homeschooling Dad Pays $7,143 In Public School Taxes With One Dollar Bills – Opposing Views – Not sure he’s going to get much sympathy outside the homeschooling community.

Homeschooling Resources 

Joe’s Science Book RecommendationsIf you are like me, there may be a lot of subjects you’d like to learn about so that you can teach your children better.  This book list looks like a good place to start for science.

200 Free Kids Educational Resources – Open Culture


Meeting our children’s needs, all at once – The home of Lisa Hassan Scott

Raising and Educating Boys

Teaching Boys to Respect Women – Building Boys – This is a great post, and I want to give a shout out to this new blog founded by Jennifer Fink. I think it has a lot of potential. I have enjoyed reading Jennifer’s blog posts about boys over the last couple of years.

Updates, Plans & Worthy Reads

I have lots of plans and ideas, but like the seasons, everything will have to wait its turn. We just finished our August birthdays (see my column about that here on Thursday), and I’m planning to start school next week.  More about that below.


What I’m most excited to announce is that I’ve been working on my very first e-book. It’s a small one, which is good because it’s teaching me what all this e-book making is about. This first e-book will be for new mothers, a compilation of some of my very first newspaper columns. Many of them are not on this site.  I’ve edited them and re-written some of them. I hope it’s a story that new moms can relate to.  My friend who read my most recent draft said, “I laughed and I cried.” I hope to announce its availability this autumn.

I will also be writing more e-books on homeschooling, storytelling, and other subjects, and I invite you to tell me what subjects most interest you (whether for an e-book or a blog post).  While my first priority is homeschooling and keeping a pace of life that doesn’t overwhelm me, I’m being intentional about getting my work done, and it’s exciting to see how working just a little bit at a time can add up to the completion of my goals, which is to create work, home and a family life that I love. It’s a slow, ongoing process and not guaranteed by any means, but making goals and putting in the effort is what makes me happy.

I’m working to give this site more focus and create a resource for all parents who want to support their children’s interests.  I don’t want to exclude non-homeschoolers because there are so many caring parents who simply can’t homeschool or don’t want to, and I think that’s a viable choice. My main goal is supporting children, teaching them worthy life skills and fostering their creativity. As my boys get older, I hope I can do more work toward helping other people with this same goal.

Eventually I will offer more resources on storytelling because I think that’s such a powerful tool for parents, and it’s easy and free, and I want to show parents that they can tell stories. As we continue with our own homeschooling journey, I hope I can share the highs and the lows, and I can illustrate how project-based homeschooling is working for us.


As I mentioned before, our “home” school will begin next week. I’m happy that my sons have had a full summer of things they love – traveling to visit family, summer camps, play time, and time to create. It’s been a good summer. After their birthdays, I wanted them to have plenty of time to play with their gifts. As I write this, my seven-year-old is playing with his new Lego creation – a Lord of the Rings spider “Shelob” kit that he had been wanting for a long time. He told me that if I gave him the time, he could finish it today, and good to his word, he spent all morning at it and finished it.

I’ve enrolled my sons in a few classes outside our home, and they are starting this week and next week. I’m really excited about our schedule. I want to write about our plans, schedule and curriculum, and hopefully that’ll happen sooner than later.

I love to tweak Mama of Letters whenever I can think of a worthy change, and recently I updated my header’s tag line and my About page. This may not be important for those of you who have been following me a while (THANK YOU), but I thought I’d let you know. There may be information on there that you didn’t even know.

Without further ado, here’s my latest WORTHY READS, which is small, I know.  As you can see, I’ve been busy!


Brother Wants Parents To Stop Siblings’ Homeschooling – NPR

Parents On The Pros And Cons of Homeschooling – NPR – I thought this interview was pretty good, but I would like for them to talk to more homeschoolers. There’s more that can be addressed. What do you think?

Homeschooling rare but growing in China – Globaltimes.cn – Wow!


Redshirting in the Age of Academic Kindergarten: Should You Hold Your Child Back? – Huff Post Parents


10 Ways Living With a Toddler Is Like Being in Prison – Huffpost Parent – Just for a laugh. My husband sent this to me.


How To Be A Great Conversationalist – wondermomwannabe.com – This isn’t about homeschooling, education or parenting, but as an introvert and someone who has difficulty with small talk and starting conversations, I found it helpful, and I thought maybe someone else would too. And maybe these are some good tips we can pass on to our introverted kids.

Worthy Reads


When You Should Second Guess Your Homeschooling Decisions – We CAN Homeschool

The intellectual benefits of the real old-fashioned summer – Camp Creek Blog

How to Mentor a Kid with Big (Possibly Unrealistic) Dreams – Camp Creek Blog – I can’t help it. All of Lori’s posts are good.

Homeschooling Resources

Bill Harley – This storyteller had my sons in stitches with his tape “Dinosaurs Don’t Say Please and Other Stories.” Just wanted to give him a shout-out for all my story loving friends.


Why We Need To Value Students’ Spatial Creativity – MindShift – Both my boys, especially the younger one, are spatial learners. I’m so grateful that we can homeschool and give them the room to move and create.


Lonely? – FIMBY – I really appreciate Renee’s candid post on this topic. I have struggled with loneliness too, and while I’ve finally met some wonderful mama friends, I’m still seeking other friends to, as Renee explains, fulfill other needs. Anybody wanna be my friend?

Giving in to Fear – The Cultivated Mother – Beautiful post

8 Ways to Raise a Mindful Child (Photos) – Karen Maezen Miller on Huff Post


Forget self-denial: Key to richer, healthier life is a good imagination – NBC News.com

Worthy Reads


Five ways to stop unschooling attrition – Camp Creek Blog

Local mom weighs in on the benefits of homeschooling – WTVM.com, Columbus, Georgia – Very short video of Georgia homeschooling mom. 

Homeschooling on the Rise, Up 75% Since Late 90s – Politix – What I’m learning about media is this: One good article will come out, and then several spin-offs, such as this one will emerge. So little original content. Interesting to learn though.

Diving Into The Public Schooling vs. Home Schooling Issue – Patheos – I really can’t identify with this. I don’t hang out in a Christian circle where there is judgement for or against homeschooling. I can’t imagine not supporting any family’s personal choice on the matter. However, this a good, balanced article on the issue, and perhaps it will help some people.

Home schooling allows parents to individualize education – Las Vegas Review-Journal – Glad to know there’s a positive homeschool network in my old hometown.

Homeschooling Resources 

Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool {Whether or Not You Sew} – Blog, She Wrote – I really need to find time to read this whole series since my little one likes to sew!

Project-based Homeschooling: Finishing – Raising Cajuns – Good thoughts on when a project ends (or not).

On the 4th of July I began thinking about civics lessons, which I hope to do with my boys at some point. Here are a couple of resources I have found, if you’re interested, though I haven’t tried either of them yet: 

Government for Kids/Grades K-5 – Kids.gov – Thanks to Homeschooling Mama on Twitter for this resource.

Intellego Unit Studies – All of these unit studies (not just the civics) look great. (FYI They are secular.) I have bought a K-2 Civics pack, but we haven’t used them yet. I think my son needs to be a little older.


Surviving Middle School – CNN Parents

Do our children know how to be citizens? – CNN Opinion – Speaking of civics lessons.


Abundance and sharing: How children learn to be generous – Camp Creek Blog

Worthy Reads

First of all, congratulations to the Barrow Journal for winning the Georgia Press Association’s 2013 General Excellence Award for the second year in a row. 


Four Reasons to Quit School and Become a Teenage Homeschooler – Huffington Post

Homeschooling Hiccups: Challenges Outside the Box – onislam.net – It’s nice to read a homeschooling article from the other side of the world and know that their houses look like tornados too! 😉

At-home classrooms filling up – World Magazine

Homeschool enrollment explodes – American Thinker

Homeschooled Kids Aren’t Freaks or Deprived, and Stereotypes Against Them Need to Go – policymic – This article doesn’t say anything new to homeschoolers (like most of them), but it’s a very good article if you need evidence for the skeptics in your life.

The Unintended Consequences of Granting Homeschooling Family Asylum – The American Spectator – I thought it was interesting to finally see an article by a very conservative paper arguing against granting asylum  to the Romeikes. 


The Milestones That Matter Most – Huff Post Parents

Why Alone Time Is So Important for Boys and Girls – Huff Post Parents – I love this so much I think I’ll have to write an article about it. via Camp Creek.

Worthy Reads



**Attention Georgia Homeschoolers: No more attendance forms for Georgia homeschoolers – Examiner.com – Whoot!

This One’s For the Homeschool Moms: Mercy’s Story – Homeschoolers Anonymous – An important read for all homeschooling moms.

Just the Facts: The Pros and Cons of Homeschooling – CBS Sacramento

Why I Homeschool – Scholastic.com – A great article that my friend sent to me. I think many of us must feel this way! It’s a secret you only realize once you start homeschooling.

THE REGULARS: Growing number of Americans choose to homeschool – Sioux City Journal

Homeschooling Resources

The Making of a Wizard & The Crafty Side of Math – Blog, She Wrote – A very good post about using math while doing project-based homeschooling.

How to Practice Spelling with Kinesthetic Learners – Smallgood Hearth


How to get the most from MOOCs – Money Magazine via CNN Schools of Thought

Teachers in Their Own Words: “Learning is Natural. School is Optional.” – Kids in the system

Only 150 of 3500 U.S. Colleges Are Worth the Investment: Former Secretary of Education – Yahoo Finance


Kids of Tiger Moms Are Worse Off – Yahoo! Shine

Have American Parents Got It All Backwards? – Huffington Post