Titles in the 2019-2020 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.

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 2019

The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. 300 pages.

This classic tale introduces readers to Bilbo Baggins, Gollum, Gandalf the Grey, and the magnificent world of Middle-earth. This epic story, published for the first time in 1937, follows Bilbo, the reluctant adventurer, on his journey to help a company of dwarves retake their ancestral home from Smaug the dragon. It is a very uncomfortable adventure, indeed.

Purchase the novel here.


SEPT 2019

Stargirl, Jerry Spinelli. Ember Reprint Edition, 2002. 208 pages.

Follow Leo Borlock as he navigates the treacherous waters of high school. Leo’s plan to blend in is foiled when he falls for Stargirl—the outrageously nonconformist new girl! Stargirl sends Leo, and the rest of the students at Mica Area High School, for a tailspin as they grapple with the shifting winds of popularity and what it means to be true to yourself.

Purchase the novel here.

OCT 2019

The Red Umbrella, Christina Diaz Gonzalez . Yearling Reissue Edition, 2011. 304 pages.

This is the tale of 14-year-old Lucía Álvarez, who has been relocated with her younger brother from Cuba to the United States as part of Operation Pedro Pan—an operation that facilitated the flight of more than 14,000 Cuba children to the US to flee Fidel Castro’s revolution. Lucía misses the way it used to be before the revolution came marching into her small Cuban town and changed everything. As she adapts to her new life in the heartland of America, she wonders if she will ever see her parents, or her homeland, again.

Purchase the novel here.

NOV 2019

A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin. HMH Books for Young Readers Reissue Edition, 2012. 264 pages.

Originally published in 1968, this fantasy novel has influenced many authors since. Follow a young village boy with an aptitude for the magical arts as his youth and a thirst for power lead him to unleash a terrible shadow into the world. Through trials and tribulations, he learns about the nature of power and mortality. Along the way, he masters the words of power, tames an ancient dragon, and restores balance by crossing the threshold of death.

Purchase the novel here.

DEC 2020

Little Women, Louisa May Alcott. Dover Publications, 2018. 480 pages.

Set in Concord, Massachusetts during the Civil War, Little Women was first published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869. The novel follows the lives of Marmee, Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy—the March family! This classic brings to life not only the time period but the tug of war between the expectations of society and being true to yourself—a theme that resonates with readers even today. The Christmas holiday season provides an important setting in the book, and the latest movie adaption will be released in December, so it’s the perfect pick for our December read!

Purchase the novel here.

JAN 2020

A Separate Peace, John Knowles. Scribner, 2003. 204 pages.

Set at a boys boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II, A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence. Gene is a lonely, introverted intellectual. Phineas is a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete. What happens between the two friends one summer, like the war itself, banishes the innocence of these boys and their world.

Purchase the novel here.

FEB 2020

Unbound: A Novel in Verse, Ann E. Burg. Scholastic Press, 2018. 352 pages.

Grace, a 9-year-old enslaved girl is sent to work in the Big House. Her mother warns her to keep her head down. Witnessing the heartlessness and hatefulness of the Master and Missus first-hand, it is increasingly difficult for strong-willed Grace to hold her tongue. A terrible chain of events is set off when Grace lets out the thoughts she has been holding inside. Grace’s story introduces readers to a little-known chapter in American history—the story of enslaved people who sought freedom in the Great Dismal Swamp, a region spanning the boards of Virginia and North Carolina.

Purchase the novel here.

MAR 2020

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne. SDE Classics, 2018. 317 pages.

Undersea marvels await readers in this timeless classic. Verne’s novel brings Captain Nemo, Dr. Aronnax, and marine life that few had seen at the time to life on the page. Dr. Aronnax is torn between a desire for freedom from the confines of the Nautilus and the urge to join Captain Nemo on his adventures to the depths of the ocean. He considers spending his life on the Nautilus and is reluctant to leave, until a fateful night when Nemo does the unthinkable. The story highlights the clash between man and nature, and it introduces readers to the ideas of justifiable revenge and the fight for liberty—at any cost.

Purchase the novel here.

APR 2020

The Night Diary, Veera Hiranandani. Kokila, 2018. 272 pages.

This is the harrowing story of Nisha, a 12-year-old girl, who is half-Hindu, half-Muslim. As tensions rise after India gained independence from British rule, she finds herself in the middle of a conflict between Hindus and Muslims. India’s independence and the partition that followed disrupted Nisha’s idyllic life in what was to become Pakistan. She becomes a refugee and must flee the only home she has ever known. Along the way, she records her hopes and fears in a journal as letters to her mother—a mother who passed away while giving birth to Nisha and her twin brother. Nisha’s story is one of family, hope, and bravery. It gives readers a touching and insightful look at this tumultuous time in the region’s history.

Purchase the novel here.

MAY 2020

The Wednesday Wars, Gary D. Schmidt. Clarion Books Reprint Edition, 2009. 272 pages.

The Wednesday Wars, a Newbery Honor-winning novel, takes readers on a comical and often touching, trip through seventh grade in the late 1960s. Will Holling Hoodhood survive the trials of cream puffs, baseball heroes, enraged rats, and, unexpectedly, William Shakespeare and yellow tights? With the Vietnam war in the backdrop, Holling does his best to dig deep for the courage to face each challenge thrown his way. Along the way, he realizes motivation to move forward can come from people he never thought could help and places he never thought to look.

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.