Moving a Puddle
and other essays by Sandra Dodd

I told my friend, "You're going to want to leave this book out where you can pick it up anytime you're feeling dull. It's magic!"

Melissa Wiley

Thank you for your wonderful book! I have enjoyed every page, and wished there was more.

Linda Barlow, South Africa

Meghan Anderson-Coates wrote:

Moving a Puddle is fabulous! I lend mine out all the time! I highly recommend it. 🙂

Other reviews below

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on LibraryThing

Contains 48 essays, the original version of the interview with Emily Subler from 1998 (longer than was published), and dozens of photographs.

162 pages plus intro

Thanks to Rue and Jon Kream; Jon helped get the formatting right.
Thanks to Kelly Lovejoy for reminding me.
Thanks to Pam Sorooshian for trading experiences and thoughts for years.
Thanks to Keith, Kirby, Marty and Holly for their willingness to share.


These essays and little riffs were published between 1992 and 2005, during which time my firstborn son went from six to nineteen years of age. In earlier writings I used terminology I have long since abandoned, but I notice that in the first one I did put quotation marks around "education: because even when Kirby was first-grade age, I knew the idea of "education" was a mire. Better to start clean with the simplest ideas, and so gradually I let go of more and more schooly-words.

The overall theme is how learning, parenting and everyday life can be in the absence of school, viewed from different vantage points over a dozen years. I hope there are ideas to help every reader, whether homeschooler or not, whether unschooler or not. Any parent or anyone who loves learning for fun should find something to help thoughts form and swirl.

Knowing I've left a few out, I tried to indicate prior publication, as these essays have all been published at least once. I was compiling credits and dates from paper copies of newsletters and magazine I've collected, and a few were unreceived or unfiled. Articles have been published in international magazines, and in local/regional publications in the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Australia and France. "Public School on your Own Terms" was translated into Japanese when Linda Dobson's book in which it appeared was translated some years ago. "Playing" will appear in a book in France within the next few months, and as I was doing final edit I received a request for permission to translate that essay into Italian. People say the water's all the same, so something that starts in a puddle in New Mexico can end up being a fluff of a cloud in Italy or France. It's all connected.

My original acknowledgements

September 29, 2005, I'm finally making this book available. I want to thank Jon Kream for technical assistance, Rue Kream for encouragement, Kelly Lovejoy for being so pushy, and Pam Sorooshian for years of being an encouraging sounding board and friend. If Kirby, Marty or Holly had any shame or embarrassment, it wouldn't have been possible for me to share the fun and poignant parts of their unschooling lives all these years. I hope you find something to help your family notch up the happiness a little in one area or another.

Thanks, all, for your interest.

I found the sweetest mention on a Scottish site:
Another fantastic book if you are feeling wobbly or afraid about your decision is Moving a Puddle by Sandra Dodd. I keep it by my bed for a 3am dose sometimes.

Readers' Commentary from when the book was featured on a now-defunct site

Words born of many years' experience, Moving a Puddle offers readers a collection of previously published essays under one cover. All told, the book contains 48 essays, spanning thirteen years, as well as the full version of an interview with Sandra back in 1998.

This collection houses one of my favorite of Sandra's essays, "Your House as a Museum," which captures unschooling so palpably, but I was thrilled to discover several other little gems, no doubt many of which are squirrelled away in some corner of her website I've yet to explore.

Perhaps the best part is the physicality of the book—being able to hold it, curl up by the fire, or lay it down on the bedside table before turning out the light.

—Danielle C.

What I am finding so cool about this book, is that so many of the articles are new to me. This is despite numerous lengthy perusals of Sandra's website. Also the pictures are delightful.


This is the first, and only, unschooling book my husband has read. I read it in a few hours, really enjoying every bit of it, and then had left it out for anyone to pick up who was interested, and he did! Strewing works! LOL! Amazing.

It was a lot of fun to see the pictures of the kids, too. I think my DH really appreciated seeing other kids who were unschooling.


I enjoyed every essay. Some were challenging, others I could nod my head in agreement with. What I especially liked is the balance and common sense that is conveyed. It’s a book I can share with others who may be at different points in their experience without scaring them off. That I appreciate very much. The pictures were fun, too!!


I haven't had a chance to sit down and really read this, only skim, but I LOVE that I have all my favorite Sandra essays in one place. I've always wanted to curl up with a bunch of her writing and be able to read it all. I love all the pics of the kids too. Very cool. It's such a nice glimpse into the Dodd household and how natural learning unfolds through the years...from toddlerhood to teenhood.


Melissa Wiley shared sweet enthusiasm about this book, and my site, in 2007: Lovely, Lovely Low Tide

The Big Book of Unschooling

Just Add Light and Stir