Spotlight on Semicolon

ShaunaShauna from Shaunarumbling is our most recent addition to the writing team here at “5 Minutes for Mom”. Shauna will be interviewing bloggers and helping us bring you the best of blogging.

Shauna is a homeschooling Mom of two girls, a stepmom of one boy, and a freelance editor and writer. She was previously a staff editor for a publishing company and has an educational background in education and journalism. She loves reading, learning, and writing. Her primary blog is Shaunarumbling, where she discusses faith, family, books, and other topics. The Family Quilt highlights service ministries and organizations that provide opportunities for families to participate in community service projects together. At Treasure Seekers, Shauna talks about learning and education and seeks to encourage and empower parents to teach their children and be actively involved in their education, whether they’re homeschooled or public- or private-schooled.

Sherry Early is a Mom of 8, a self-described book reading fanatic, and a former librarian. Visiting her blog, Semicolon, is like taking a trip to the library, where you’ll find poetry, quotations, biographical snapshots of authors and poets, and essays about literature, historical and current events, and politics as well as family life, homeschooling, and culture. She occasionally features a particular food or plant theme of the month and shares what her family is studying about the theme while homeschooling. Previous themes were iced tea, roses, potatoes, and pecans, and this September she featured apples in literature, history, recipes, celebrations, quotations, works of art, aphorisms, crafts, and other aspects of culture.

Sherry loves books and so do the readers of her blog! Her Saturday Review of Books carnival has grown from a handful to dozens of reviewers per week. Sherry is now hosting the Saturday Review of Books Reading Challenge, in which participants read books that have been reviewed previously in the weekly carnival. She is also the author of Picture Book Preschool, a preschool curriculum centered on children’s literature.

I asked Sherry a few questions about blogging, reading, and encouraging kids to become readers:

How did you get started blogging? Is there a story or special meaning behind the name Semicolon?

I must confess that my creativity is somewhat limited. When I started my blog, I called it “Sherry’s Blog.” Imaginative, huh?
Eldest Daughter gave me the name “Semicolon,” and I liked it. I like semicolons; I use them judiciously. However, I still didn’t have any idea that the title would actually say something about the purpose of my blog.
But it does. I blog to communicate. I also blog to connect with others and to connect other people with each other and with the information and ideas that will help them to ultimately connect with the God and Father of us all. Jesus is my Semicolon; He is the punctuation bridge between me in all my sin and a Holy God. So in a way that could probably be expressed better in poetry were I gifted in that area, I want to use my blog as a semicolon to connect people to the things I think are important in life, small things like good books and large things like ideas about God.
Language really is quite powerful, and even punctuation has its place in holding the universe together.

How do you make time in your schedule for writing, reading, and your other interests while homeschooling and caring for your home and family? How do you find a balance that works for you?

I have this theory that it’s important for children to see you doing something you love—for me that’s reading and blogging—at least some of the time. Not that I read and blog just to show my children how important those activities are, but I think for them to develop a love for reading, they need to see me reading. Engineer Husband loves science and math, so as they see him doing science and math, they begin to enjoy those subjects, too.
My theory doesn’t do much to settle the question of how much time to spend on each activity. I spend a lot of time reading, but often I’m reading while sitting on the couch supervising schoolwork. I stop reading my book to read aloud to the urchins or to help with a math problem. Then, I take up where I left off in my book. I read while I eat lunch. I’m writing this while eating breakfast, and the urchins are also eating breakfast, doing their morning jobs, and listening to Les Miserables . It’s sort of a juggling act, and sometimes I do it better than other times.
I don’t do housework very well, except in spurts of inspiration which don’t occur often enough. We get school done, mostly, and I make meals, most days. All that means that I don’t have it all together, but I’m satisfied with the general way things are going. I only have worries about it all on alternate Mondays.

You include a great deal of dates and other factual information on your blog about people, places, literature, and historical events. What are your favorite reliable sources for finding accurate information quickly?

For reliable information, I use books. I own a lot of books, like a few thousand. I also use the internet. I’ll dare to admit that I use Wikipedia quite often. I try to remember to verify things before I write about them on my blog, but I’ve made a couple of BIG mistakes when I was relying on my own memory. Both times I was very kindly corrected by a reader.

What led you to develop Picture Book Preschool? How did you select the children’s books that it features?

Picture Book Preschool is a preschool curriculum that I wrote based on picture books that I have been reading to children, my own and others, for the past 20 years. Each week of Picture Book Preschool is built around a theme and includes a suggested character trait to work on, a Bible verse, and seven picture books to read to your children.
In a former life, before I had eight children of my own, I was an elementary school librarian. I discovered many classic picture books during my years as a librarian. Then, I had a baby and another, and I started making lists of all the books I wanted to be sure and read to them. And I threw it into the computer at some point, and out came a preschool curriculum book.

Do you have any tips for Moms who want to encourage their kids to love reading?

I’m a strong believer in reading for yourself and reading aloud to your children. As I said, we own a lot of books. And we visit the library frequently. That said, I think some children are more inclined to be readers than others, and that’s OK. In our family, we read a lot, and I would hate to see any of my children miss that experience. Some other families spend more time on music or exploring nature, and that’s fine for them.

I suppose if you want to encourage your kids to read, you’re like me and you enjoy reading. So turn off the TV and read. The urchins will usually follow along.

Shauna Rumbaugh


  1. says

    Hi Shauna! I applaud you on homeschooling your family. I just “retired” from my accounting career of 15 years and am adjusting to being home full-time. My 12 and 6 year old boys are in a christian school; however, I am considering homeschooling my youngest when we go into a new school year.

    You are an inspiration to me as I continue to build my family information based website.

    I look forward to hearing more from you!

  2. says

    WOW Shauna! I can’t wait to read more… I LOVE LOVE LOVE reading as well and my daughter has picked this up without a second thought. I’m also hoping for lots of little blessings from God, contemplating the homeschool option as well as starting a at-home daycare with a very rich preschool curriculum so I can stop doing the part-time out of the house jobs and be THERE for my kiddos!

    Thanks again & can’t wait to learn more! THANKS!


  3. says

    I just found out about your site. It’s really helpful to see how you are developing your ideas and posts. I homeschooled for a while and loved having my son at home with me. I love reading, too.

    I’ve been trying to get my 11 year old son into reading more. He started school this year, and is in th accelerated reading group. He’s required to read so much a month and has to read for so many points each 9 weeks. It has helped, since it isn’t me requiring it, but school.

    Drop by my blog and see what I’ve been doing since my son is in school.

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