Archive for the ‘What I'm reading’ Category

Getting organized

As I read the back of the book, What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life, I made a text-to-self connection: I woke up one morning and couldn’t believe my life. I had turned fifty…. Not only had my life changed, but my body was changing without my permission! I had to rethink the way I had been dressing for the last thirty years. It was time for a fresh start.”

Even if you’re not fifty (or more, like me), you might relate to these words! This book called to me from its shelf at Barnes and Noble. Soon it was sitting on my nightstand for bedtime reading. Not only did I read it; I also responded to the book by taking action. I “shopped in my closet!” I took an honest look at what I already owned.

All my friends know that I love organized stuff (almost as much as accessories)! This book just helped me kick it up a notch. I got to work in my closet. First, I created a “Feel-Good Closet” as suggested by the author, Kim Johnson Gross. She says that most of us only wear 20% of our clothes over and over again. So, I took the things I love and always feel good in and put those in a separate part of my closet. Then I added a good full-length mirror in good light nearby. I also folded all my tanks and ts and put them on a shelf (just like in the cute boutiques). I color-coded everything to make it easy to locate. (I had sorted my clothes by color before, but I’d mixed in things I rarely wore with stuff I wear all the time. Now that infrequently worn stuff is in another part of my closet.)

I love it! And it makes me feel good. I’m guaranteed to feel good by grabbing something from this section. Nearby, I have my favorite shoes in a Target-shoe holder. And I hung a few of my favorite accessories on a cute rack from Anthropologie. A while ago, I hung all my earrings on a screen from Lowe’s Home Improvement to make them easy to find, too. I’m ready for summer with my new “Feel-Good Closet!”

My “Feel-Good Closet” as response to literature!

Some favorite accessories hang where I can easily see them.

Earrings organized on a sliding window screen are propped in plain view.

Shoe organizer from Target displays favorite shoes to make accessorizing (and packing) easy!

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I have written before about the holiday book sharing party I try to organize every year. It is such a great way to get together with friends and find out about new books at the same time! This year — or I should say “last” year — was no exception. Here are some photos of what ended up on our book sharing table — you leave one, you take one! What are you reading this year?

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Being the mom of two grown children, many of my favorite children’s books come from long ago. One of the best times of day was when we’d cuddle together at night and read books together. Here are some I loved and shared with Jon and Jessica:


I collect poetry books. Here a few of my new favorites:

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What I am reading now

Being a teacher of reading, I love books… all kinds of books. Lately, I’ve been reading ebooks on my iPad, “real book” paperbacks, and even a large hardback atlas! Here are some of the books I’m currently reading:


  • Seven Year Switch by Claire Cook is the paperback I’m toting on planes right now. I loved her book, Must Love Dogs, and so far I’m enjoying this new one. It’s a light, fun read but is well written. Just the thing for the holiday season!
  • Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. I’ve been reading this devotional book every morning for several years. I downloaded this one on my Kindle app, so I don’t have to carry the book with me when traveling.
  • Likewise, Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles B. Cowman, is also on my iPad for daily devotional reading. I’ve been reading this favorite for about 20 years and have given it to many people for a gift.
  • Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn is a book I read in high school (by choice) that I’m now rereading on my iPad. It’s set in New Orleans in 1933. As I read it, I remember bits from 1972 when I last visited this book!
  • Max Lucado has been a favorite author for years. I just discovered his Facing Your Giants: A David and Goliath Story for Everyday People. I read this in connection with Five Smooth Stones. It’s a paired text!
  • I just finished reading The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Living Guide. Nice connections to my Spaces and Places book and workshops! Picked up some new thoughts and tips.

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I know it’s only July, but you know that back to school time is just around the corner! Now is a great time to think about books you’d like to share with your students.

The first days of school usually provide time for a few extra read-alouds. Here is a list of books I found to help young kids ease into back to school time. I was cleaning my office yet again this weekend and came across this list I’d tucked away.
1. I Am Not Going to School Today! by Robie H. Harris (McElderry, 2003)
2. Imagine Harry by Kate Klise (Harcourt, 2007)
3. It’s Time for School with Tallulah by Nancy Wolff (Scholastic, 2007)
4. Off to Kindergarten by Tony Johnston (Scholastic, 2007)
5. Hamsters, Shells, and Spelling Bees: School Poems edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins (HarperCollins, 2008)
6. Mildred and Sam Go to School by Sharleen Collicott (HarperCollins, 2008)
7. My Kindergarten by Rosemary Wells (Hyperion, 2004)
8. Amelia Bedelia’s First Day of School by Herman Parish and Lynne Avril (Greenwillow Books, 2009)
Please post any of your favorite titles for back to school, too!

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Early in the 21st century, my friend, Sheron Brown, wrote a series of books I loved called All Sorts of Sorts. We lost Sheron to cancer several years ago, and I miss her terribly. Every time I do word sorting with teachers, vivid memories of Sheron pop into my mind, and I wish I could call to tell her what we did. Sheron and I had the privilege of presenting together at IRA, and I’ll never forget when we appeared at the conference in San Antonio to do word study and work stations with the many teachers there! We were walking to the room, and there was a huge line outside the door. “I wonder who’s presenting in there?” we pondered. And then discovered that it was us! (:

While in Humble ISD this week, I again shared Sheron’s books, available now only at www.trcabc.com. I shared many different ways to sort with teachers there. One group of teachers created a sample of a chart they’d like to make with their kids this year to remind them how to sort words during word study. Love it! They, of course, will make the chart with the class.

All Sorts of Sorts by Sheron Brown

Sample chart showing kids a variety of ways to sort words (over time, of course!)

A mom brought her daughter to training one afternoon, and she participated in the fun, too. Look at the chart she was inspired to make after listening to how her teachers should present word study! (Animals and Accessories)

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What’s on your “next read stack” for summer? Here’s what’s sitting on my bedside table:

  • Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson- I just finished this one. Such a lovely story. A gentle read.
  • Mennonite in a Little Black Dress (A Memoir of Going Home) by Rhoda Janzen- I grew up in PA Dutch Country in Lancaster County, PA. I was friends with several Mennonites, so this one struck a chord!
  • What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life: Ageless Secrets of Style by Kim Johnson Gross- I’ve read about 1/3 of this and am very inspired. In fact, I’ve done several “responses to literature” as a result of what I’ve read. More to come…

Note: I've unplugged my glow-in-the-dark digital clock on my nightstand. I hated waking up in the middle of the night and reading 2:30 AM. Now if I wake up, I have no idea what time it is and go right back to sleep. I still use an alarm clock, but it doesn't light up.

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