For a list of books we'll read each month, click above on the tab "2019/2020"
Arrow 2019 2020

Picture this: bean bag chairs, a box of Legos, your rocking chair. #

You read to your kids and they listen, taking it in, sometimes commenting, sometimes distracted.

When you finish, you ask curious questions, like: “What do you think will happen next?” and “Who are you rooting for? Why?” and “Does this story remind you of any other book we’ve read?”

They answer—eager to share.

Now, picture this kind of conversation happening with lots of kids, all together, guided by a discussion leader who helps these kids take their answers deeper. Imagine that instead of talking out loud, these same kids use a keyboard and transcribe their thoughts into writing—the kind you can print and save, read again and consider?

Due to popular demand, Brave Writer now offers a way to engage middlers (10-12) who want to discuss novels with their peers, who are ready to learn the art of thinking and writing simultaneously, all while excited about a great story!

The Skinny #

If I could host you all in my cozy living room, I would. Instead, Brave Writer provides you a virtual living room space—where students gather to freely discuss the novels they read with you at home.

The Arrow Book Club provides an online discussion space (asynchronous, bulletin board style) for students to learn to discuss literature using literary analysis vocabulary without the pressure of writing “essays.” Homeschool students especially need the chance to talk about what they read—yet the busy mother-of-many doesn’t always have time to take the discussion to a written form.

Let Brave Writer help you. These book discussions are drawn from entertaining works of fiction that your kids are sure to love!

Instructors will guide students in provocative discussion of the Arrow books. They'll coax, encourage, and expand how your middlers think about novels, all while providing an engaging dialogue partner to them.

Remember—in Brave Writer, we move incrementally.

  • First, we expose kids to great literature.
  • Second, we talk about it.
  • Third, we write about it freely without structure.
  • Fourth, we learn to write about it with structure.

The Arrow Book Club helps you with steps 1-3.

Your kids will both talk and write about literature without the imposition of specific writing forms.

We’re sneaky.

All that discussion will be put “into” writing but it will be invisible to them. They will feel like they are just “talking” when in fact they are writing! This rich experience of putting thoughts and insight into writing will create the foundation for applying the insights to academic formats later.

How it Works #

Each enrolled student will receive a copy of the issue of the Arrow, to be used at home in conjunction with the club (the price of the Arrow is already included in the tuition for participation in the book club).

Monthly Tuition: $99.00

  • Week 1: Students start reading the book. No discussion online.
  • Week 2: Students continue to read the book. The instructor posts discussion questions; students comment and discuss with each other and with the instructor.
  • Week 3: Students finish the book. More questions are posted with more discussion of literary elements, themes, plot, character development, and literary style.
  • Week 4: The last batch of questions are discussed. Students and instructor draw some conclusions about the novel on the whole. Students share a favorite quote (what we call a “Golden Line”); they explain to the class why they picked it.

Parents may print the online discussion and save it as evidence of work with each novel.

Time off will be granted for holidays.

For more information about how the classes are run, please read about online classes.

To explore our Brave Writer classroom, click here to access a sample class.

Caveat: Please remember that you’re the parent. If you have doubts about the content of a particular book, please check the reviews of the novel or read it for yourself first.

[This page contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

AUG 2019

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Robert C. O'Brien. Aladdin, 1997. 240 pages.

This story centers on an unusual group of rats with the ability to solve even the most puzzling problems—and a mouse with a perplexing problem to solve. With the threat of the farmer’s plow looming, Mrs. Frisby must find a way to keep her son, Timothy, warm and safe while he recovers from his illness. Can the extraordinary Rats of NIMH help her? This delightful story might just change your perspective on rats—and mice. Even if the rats don’t win you over, the story will provide you and your kids with captivating characters to discuss and an adventure-filled tale to share.

Purchase the novel here.

SEPT 2019

The Wild Robot, Peter Brown. Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2016. 288 pages.

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown is NOT about a robot GONE wild, but a robot IN the wild. When Roz the Robot finds herself stranded on an island, she develops unexpected relationships with the local inhabitants. As she learns to survive in an environment she was not built for, she creates connections and community. A robot with a big heart, Roz’s search for meaning will create plenty of opportunities to discuss friendship, family, the blending of nature and technology, and so much more.

Purchase the novel here.

OCT 2019

Merci Suárez Changes Gears, Meg Medina. Candlewick, 2018. 368 pages.

This novel is the 2019 Newbery winner. It’s a heartwarming (and sometimes heart wrenching) coming-of-age story with a delightfully relatable protagonist—Merci! As she navigates 6th grade, Merci struggles with the developmental and emotional changes that come with growing up. Along with her typical tween-concerns, she must also come to understand and accept the changes brought to her tight-knit family when the effects of Alzheimer’s disease alter her beloved grandfather. This is a story about growing up, growing old, and growing as a family.

Purchase the novel here.

NOV 2019

Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer. Disney-Hyperion Reprint Edition, 2018. 320 pages.

Artemis is the boy criminal mastermind you’ll love, hate, or love to hate. Artemis, most unconventionally, seeks to restore his family fortune and pull his family back together by kidnapping a fairy. And not just any fairy. A very dangerous fairy. This story blends the modern and the magical with delightful effect. Get ready for an adventure with Artemis!

Purchase the novel here.

DEC 2019

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, Karina Yan Glaser. HMH Books for Young Readers Reprint Edition, 2018. 320 pages.

This timeless, heartwarming story reads like a classic in a contemporary setting. Set in Harlem, the endearing cast of characters brings this New York neighborhood to life on the page. The five Vanderbeeker kids live in the same neighborhood where their dad grew up. To stay in their beloved brownstone home, they’ve got to convince a landlord they never see to renew their lease. Their hijinks will make you laugh. Their tenderness will make you sigh. Their determination will make you root for them! If you liked the Penderwicks or the Melendys, you’ll adore the Vanderbeekers!

Purchase the novel here.

JAN 2020

PIE, Sarah Weeks. Scholastic Paperbacks Reprint Edition, 2013. 192 pages.

Alice loves her Aunt Polly, and she connects with her beloved aunt through one of Polly’s favorite things: making pies! When her aunt unexpectedly passes away, Alice is left with Aunt Polly’s cat, Lardo, and a mystery! What is the secret to her aunt’s world-famous pie-crust recipe? And why did she leave the recipe to Lardo? Small-town politics, pie-baking contests, and a few red herrings make this a delightful read. With a pie recipe at the beginning of each chapter, you and your kids will be running to the kitchen to make award-winning pies all month long!

Purchase the novel here.

FEB 2020

Stella by Starlight, Sharon Draper. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books Reprint Edition, 2016. 352 pages.

Stella is a brave, tenacious girl growing up in a segregated North Carolina town during the depression. When Sella and her brother witness the activity of the Ku Klux Klan late one night, it is a sign of unwelcome changes to come. As Stella struggles to find her purpose, her community grapples with the oppression perpetrated by the Klan members in town. This book about family, community, and hope is infused with a sense of time and place. Draper weaves song and dialect into the story to create vivid scenes that bring the story to life.

Purchase the novel here.

MAR 2020

Book Scavenger, Jennifer Chambliss Bertman. Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC Reprint Edition, 2016. 368 pages.

Here is a delightful tale of friendship and finding a place to call home. Emily’s family moves—a lot. While her parents see the freedom of their nomadic life as a gift, Emily yearns for roots and friendship. When they land in San Francisco, she unexpectedly stumbles upon a mystery, and just as unexpectedly, finds a friend to help her solve it. Part coming-of-age, part mystery—Book Scavenger adds up to a whole lot of book-binding adventure.

Purchase the novel here.

APR 2020

Bronze and Sunflower, Cao Wenxuan. Candlewick, 2017. 400 pages.

A best-selling children’s book in China, Bronze and Sunflower has been translated for American readers. What a gift. The story follows Sunflower, a young girl from the city, who is transplanted to the countryside during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, which occurred between 1966 – 1976. She befriends Bronze, the often ostracized and misunderstood deaf boy from a nearby village. After tragedy strikes, Bronze supports Sunflower and she becomes the sister he always wanted. While life is hard in the village, Sunflower loves her new family—but will she be able to stay with them? If you enjoyed The Birchbark House, you’ll love this book!

Purchase the novel here.

MAY 2020

The Boy Who Saved Baseball, John H. Ritter. Puffin Books Reprint Edition, 2005. 224 pages.

A plucky, underdog of a team is going the distance—with a bit of unconventional help—to save their local ball field and maybe baseball itself! Not just for baseball fanatics, this story has something for just about everyone. Strong girls, funny boys, delightful character interactions, and cross-generational teamwork bring this story of community and friendship together in a way that will make you laugh, make you sigh, and maybe even make you shed a tear or two. You don’t have to have a household full of baseball fans to love this book. The characters drive the story—and they will stick with you long after the last inning.

Purchase the novel here.

Class Structure Description

Brave Writer online classes are specially designed with the busy homeschooling parent in mind. Classes last anywhere from four to six weeks. We offer courses that address a specific writing need so that you can take the ones that suit your family throughout the school year. Short class sessions enable you to work around family vacations, out-of-town swim meets, recovering from wisdom teeth removal, and visits from grandparents. We operate on the quarter system, including a summer session. Our most popular classes repeat each quarter, while others are seasonal.

Our classes meet in a customized online classroom, designed specifically to meet the needs of Brave Writer. Only registered students and the instructor have access to the classroom to ensure your privacy. Assignments and reading materials are posted by Brave Writer instructors each week (no additional supply fees necessary, unless otherwise indicated). Either you (homeschooling parent) or your child (homeschooling student) will visit the classroom daily at your convenience to read helpful information about the current topic or to find the writing assignment. We operate "asynchronously" (which means that the discussion is not live, but that posted information remains available to you in your time zone at your convenience). Instructors check the classroom throughout the day to answer questions and give feedback on writing.

Writing is done at home and then typed into the classroom, and shared with both the instructor and other classmates. You're not required to be online at any specific time of the day. We have students from all over the world participating in our classes so "live" discussion is impossible. Instead, the online classroom enables the instructor to post information and assignments when it is convenient to the instructor. Then, when it is convenient for you, you come to the classroom and read the latest postings.

Instructor feedback to student writing is offered for all participants to read. Writing questions are welcomed and encouraged! That's the point of class. We aim to give you immediate support as you face writing obstacles.

Brave Writer takes seriously the need for encouragement and emotional safety in writing. No student is ever at risk of being humiliated or mistreated. All online dialog is respectful and supportive of your child's process. This is the core of Brave Writer philosophy. You can read about Brave Writer values here.

What makes our program especially unique in the world of online education is that we value a corporate experience. Rather than teaching your child in a tutorial format, we prefer students to have the opportunity to both publish their work for an audience (other students) and also to have the chance to read other student writing. In no other setting is this possible. Schools-in-buildings rarely have students read each other's work. Homeschooled children are rarely in a classroom environment to begin with, so the opportunity to read peer-writing is nil.

Our classes provide an utterly unique experience in the world of writing instruction. Since most writers grow through emulation of good writing, it is a real advantage to Brave Writer kids to get the chance to read the writing of their fellow home-educated peers. They love it! They get to examine and internalize other ways of writing, analyzing and expressing ideas similar to their own. They have the chance to validate and cheer on their peers. And of course, the best part of all is that they receive the praise and affirmation of kids just like them.

Not only that, all instructor feedback is posted to the classroom for all students to read. That means your kids get the benefit of instructor comments on many papers, not just their own. We've noted that this style of instruction is especially effective and hope you'll agree!

To explore our Brave Writer classroom, click here to access a sample class.