Titles in the 2018-2019 tab at the top.

Picture a living room of comfy sofas;
assorted coffee mugs in green, blue, and ochre;
tea, hot water, coffee, and chai;
brownies and chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

Once you’ve kicked off your shoes and have tucked your feet under you, the leader picks up the book-of-the-month—Jane Eyre. She gives a short account of setting and explains a bit about Charlotte Bronte.

Then, as spoons clink and bodies shift to get comfortable, she asks:
“Let’s take a look at the opening two paragraphs. What clues does Bronte use in the setting to create a mood?”

Pages flip open and the first brave soul speaks up.
“The scene depicts a somber, rainy scene.”

Another comments:
“The first line includes ‘wandering’ which doesn’t leave the reader feeling very confident that the story is going somewhere decided.”

And so it begins.

The Skinny #

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

Rather than reading in isolation, without the benefit of examining the writing and the layers of meaning novelists intend their readers to experience, The Boomerang Book Club provides a forum for that opportunity. Homeschool students especially need the chance to talk about what they read—yet the busy mother-of-many doesn’t always have time to read those lengthy dense books, let alone discuss them in depth!

Let Brave Writer help you. These book discussions are drawn from rich works of fiction that will easily fulfill the English credit requirement for literature for a year of high school.

Teenagers are invited to join our virtual book discussion club, conducted entirely online in the Brave Writer classroom.

Johannah Bogart, Julie’s 28 year old homeschooled daughter, will guide students in provocative discussion of the Boomerang books. These discussions are intended to teach your kids literary analysis without the burden of essay writing. All the Big Juicy Conversations about the books will lead to that special brain development—rhetorical insight—that leads to effective essay writing later.

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 Boomerang Book Club helps you with steps 1-3.

Your kids will both talk and write about literature without the imposition of academic formats.

We’re sneaky.

All that discussion will be put “into” writing but it will be the kind your kids do all day long on message boards online. They will be “writing” their thoughts in a conversation with other students, guided by probing questions offered by the discussion leader. This rich experience of putting thoughts and insight into writing will create the foundation for applying the insights to academic formats later. In fact, some of them may enjoy branching out and taking one of our literary analysis writing classes later this year.

How it Works #

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

Monthly Tuition: $99.00

The online book club will follow this basic structure each month:

  • Week 1: Students start reading the book. No discussion online.
  • Week 2: Students continue to read the book. The instructor posts “Think Piece” questions from the Boomerang; students comment and discuss with each other and with the instructor.
  • Week 3: Students finish reading 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. Truly, our students who’ve participated in this discussion format in the past have found it to be the most effective process for becoming competent in literary analysis. The preparation for writing essays later is unparalleled in anything your student can do alone.

The Boomerang Book Club includes a copy of the month’s Boomerang issue, plus access to the online classroom for each month purchased.

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. Books may include sexuality, graphic language, and mature themes.

[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

In August we are putting a twist on the Boomerang with four short stories that end in a twist!

SEPT 2018

Cry, the Beloved Country, Alan Paton. New York: Scribner, 2003. 316 pages.
Follow the moving story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son, Absalom. The novel is set against the backdrop of a South Africa deep in the grip of racial injustice. An immediate worldwide bestseller in 1948, it is the most famous and influential novel in South Africa’s history. Available as an audiobook read by Michael York.

Purchase the novel here.

OCT 2018

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006. 528 pages.
The story of young Francie and her impoverished family, the Nolans, as they live in the slums of Williamsburg at the turn of the century is the subject of this tale. Filled with characters that come to life on the page, this work of literary art captures both heartaches and triumphs of this bookish heroine. Available as an audiobook read by Kate Burton.

Purchase the novel here.

NOV 2018

The Scarlet Pimpernel, Emmuska Orczy. New York: Modern Library, 2002. 304 pages.
Part action adventure, part romance, part historical fiction, The Scarlet Pimpernel is not your average classic novel. Determined to rescue innocent men, women, and children from the guillotine of the French revolutionaries, the Scarlet Pimpernel must keep his identity secret to continue his work and save those unjustly sentenced to death during the “Reign of Terror.” Available as an audiobook read by Mary Sarah.

Purchase the novel here.

DEC 2018

A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens. New York: Dover Publications,1991. 80 pages.
In this Dickens classic, we meet Ebenezer Scrooge, the bitter, cold-hearted curmudgeon who detests Christmas. After a series of visits from various ghosts, including his former business partner, Jacob Marley, who visits Scrooge on Christmas Eve, seven years after Marley’s death, Scrooge gets a second chance to live a more meaningful life and have a positive impact on those around him. Available as an audiobook read by Anton Lessor.

Purchase the novel here.

JAN 2019

Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen. New York: Penguin Classics, 2003. 368 pages.
Jane Austen’s first published work follows the story of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne, as they navigate the perils of the heart and judgments of society in 19th century England. While these sisters take vastly different approaches to life, their love and loyalty remain strong, despite the challenges they face. Available as an audiobook read by Victoria McGee.

Purchase the novel here.

FEB 2019

March, John Lewis. Marietta: Top Shelf Productions, 2013. 128 pages.
With vivid detail only a graphic novel could create, March brings a first-hand account of the Civil Rights movement and the life of U.S. Congressman John Lewis to the page. Book one in the three-part autobiographical series covers Lewis’ early life on a sharecropper’s farm in Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King Jr., and the beginning of the Nashville Student Movement and their struggles to fight segregation with nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins.

Purchase the novel here.

MAR 2019

Wolf Hollow, Lauren Wolk. New York: Puffin Books, 2018. 320 pages.

(Not to be confused with a book by the same name by Nikki Jefford)

In Wolf Hollow, a heartwarming and heartbreaking coming of age story, Annabelle finds the courage to stand up to the new girl in town and learns you cannot help everyone, no matter how much you care. Set in rural Pennsylvania during WWII, this is a tale of resilience, strength, and compassion in the face of injustice. Available as an audiobook read by Emily Rankin.

Purchase the novel here.

APR 2019

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012. 249 pages.
A modern classic, Fahrenheit 451 explores a futuristic world where television rules and books burn. Guy Montag is a fireman who starts fires—his job, to burn books and the buildings in which they are found. Through a series of events, Montag becomes disillusioned with the anti-intellectual society in which he lives and begins to question all he knows to be true. Available as an audiobook read by Christopher Hurt.

Purchase the novel here.

MAY 2019

The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros. New York: Vintage, 1991. 110 pages.
A series of poetic vignettes about the life of Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina girl living in Chicago. The oldest child of a family that moves from one apartment to the next, Esperanza finds her voice as she navigates a world filled with joy and heartbreak. Available as an audiobook read by the author.

Purchase the novel here.

JUN 2019

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (ISBN-13: 978-0061120084).
This regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

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.