Read about the book titles in the 2018-2019 tab at the top of the page.

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.

Book titles for 2019-2020 will be announced in late May.

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 2018

The Penderwicks at Last, Jeanne Birdsall. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2018. 304 pages.
The beloved Penderwicks return to where it all began: Arundel. And a good old-fashioned Penderwicks wedding is the occasion. All of the heart and charm of the Penderwicks return in this exciting culmination of the Penderwicks series. You and your kids will fall head over heels for the Penderwicks all over again! Available as an audiobook read by Susan Denaker.

Purchase the novel here.

SEPT 2018

Redwall, Brian Jacques. New York : Penguin Putnam, 2002. 352 pages.
The peace-loving mice of Redwall Abbey must join with their woodland friends and muster the courage and strength to defend their home from Cluny the Scourge and his horde of rats! This humorous and enchanting tale will draw readers in with poetic language, a vivid fantasy world, and some most unlikely heroes. Available as an audiobook read by multiple narrators.

Purchase the novel here.

OCT 2018

Mary Poppins, P.L. Travers. Boston: HMH Books for Young Readers, 2015. 208 pages.
It’s time to introduce a whole new generation of children to the new nanny: Mary Poppins! A sassy woman of few words, she takes her charges, the Banks children, on magical, dream-like adventures to learn life lessons in strange and delightful ways. You will also meet Jane and Michael’s baby twin brother and sister, John and Barbara, who have their own brand of wisdom. Your kids will beg to take tea on the ceiling at the end of this tale! Available as an audiobook read by Sophie Thompson.

Purchase the novel here.

NOV 2018

Journey to Jo'burg: A South African Story, Beverley Naidoo. New York: HarperCollins, 2002. 96 pages.
This story follows thirteen-year-old Naledi and her younger brother, Trio, on their journey to the big city of Johannesburg to retrieve their mother. She is the only one who can save their ailing baby sister. Along the way, they receive help from strangers, but also come face to face with the dangers of the city, the inequalities in their country, and the frailty of life itself.

Purchase the novel here.

DEC 2018

Because of Winn-Dixie, Kate DiCamillo. Cambridge: Candlewick Press, 2015. 208 pages.
This tale is told through the eyes of India Opal Buloni, a 10-year-old girl who is new to town and friendless—until she meets a stray dog whom she hastily names Winn-Dixie. This coming of age story follows India’s adventures with Winn-Dixie as she makes friends, collects stories, and learns more than a handful of life lessons. You will laugh, you might cry, you will undoubtedly come to love the spunky spirit of India and the inquisitive, brown-eyed dog Winn-Dixie! Available as an audiobook read by Cherry Jones.

Purchase the novel here.

JAN 2019

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, Eleanor Coerr. New York: Puffin Books. 80 pages.
Hiroshima-born Sadako is an active, full-of-life athlete until she falls ill with leukemia. Legend holds that if a sick person folds one thousand paper cranes, they will regain their health. Sadako takes up the challenge with courage and bravery. Based on a true story, this short, classic tale will touch your heart. Available as an audiobook read by Elaina Erika Davis.

Purchase the novel here.

FEB 2019

Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman, Dorothy Sterling. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1987. 192 pages.
Meet the tenacious Harriet Tubman and follow her journey as she not only escapes slavery but returns to the South to lead slaves to freedom by a secret route called the Underground Railroad. The story begins with seven-year-old Harriet tending a baby and ends with her passing at the age of ninety-three.

Purchase the novel here.

MAR 2019

Harriet the Spy, Louise Fitzhugh. New York: Yearling, 2001. 320 pages.
Discover the world through the eyes of eleven-year-old Harriet, a spy. As all good spies do, she writes down everything she observes in her notebook—even brutally honest and often awful thoughts about her classmates. When the notebook goes missing, Harriet finds herself in a fix. Will the rambunctious Harriet smooth out the mess and regain the trust of her friends? Available as an audiobook read by Anne Bobby.

Purchase the novel here.

APR 2019

By the Great Horn Spoon!, Sid Fleischman. New York: Little, Brown Books, 1988. 224 pages.
Follow the adventures of Jack, a twelve-year-old Bostonian, and his English butler, Praiseworthy, as they set forth to strike it rich in the California Gold Rush! These two unlikely gold miners need to hit pay dirt to save the family estate. Along the way, they meet a cast of colorful characters and find themselves in plenty of predicaments. Available as an audiobook read by multiple narrators.

Purchase the novel here.

MAY 2019

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1999. 309 pages.
The first book in the Harry Potter series follows Harry from his mundane life with his Muggle family, who force him to live in a closet under the stairs, to the magical halls of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. At Hogwarts, he begins to learn his true power as a wizard and uncover the truth about his past and his destiny. Available as an audiobook read by Jim Dale.

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.