Click on the tab "2021-2022" to read details about this year's titles.
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.”
“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, Boomerang Book Club provides an asynchronous discussion forum for that opportunity guided by a writing coach. 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!
Our 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 if you register for at least a semester's worth.
Teenagers are invited to join our virtual book discussion club! We do this in writing. The whole conversation is conducted entirely online in the Brave Writer bulletin board style classroom. Since it’s asynchronous, your teen can log in any time, day or night!
Continuing this year!
Our instructor will host "live" chats where everyone is invited to post in the classroom at the same time once a week. Students will have a taste of the in-person book club discussion experience as they exchange ideas in real time—and they'll do it all in writing!
Important Note: Live chat is an optional activity. The schedule will be set by the instructor according to the instructor's availability once class starts. If your child can't make live chat, there's plenty of discussion to be had in the classroom!
Our instructors 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.
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.
Here’s our list of captivating reads for 2021/2022! #
[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!]
August—The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Young Readers Edition) by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
September—The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi (Translated by Cathy Hirano)
October—Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins
November—The Sea in Winter by Christine Day
December—Great American Short Stories (Dover Thrift Editions) edited by Paul Negri
Note: In December, we start discussion on December 1. Plan to read the first part of the book ahead of time!
January—The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson
February—Hidden Figures (Young Readers Edition) by Margot Lee Shetterly
March—Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang
April—Jazz Owls: A Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots by Margarita Engle
May—Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
*June is our Classic Reads month where we choose a novel often studied in schools to read and discuss.
How Book Club 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
This is our only class with a regular discount. Sign up for more than one club and save!
$99.00/ individual month
$290/ 3 months
$475/ 5 months
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.
Important Note: In Brave Writer, we read a wide range of essays and literature that address a wide variety of perspectives and that include time-bound references. Please be aware that you may experience strong reactions to what you read. By using literature as a teaching tool to foster understanding and growth, we have the opportunity to discuss these evolving ideologies.
We encourage you to pre-read books and essays to determine their appropriateness for your family and to prepare to have discussions on these topics with your students as they participate in the class.
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.
Important Note: In Brave Writer, we read a wide range of essays and literature that address a wide variety of perspectives and that include time-bound references. By using literature as a teaching tool to foster understanding and growth, we have the opportunity to discuss these evolving ideologies.
Books may include sexuality, graphic language, and mature themes.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Young Readers Edition) by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
When a terrible drought struck William Kamkwamba's tiny village in Malawi, his family lost all of the season's crops, leaving them with nothing to eat and nothing to sell. William began to explore science books in his village library, looking for a solution. There, he came up with the idea that would change his family's life forever: he could build a windmill. Made out of scrap metal and old bicycle parts, William's windmill brought electricity to his home and helped his family pump the water they needed to farm the land.
Retold for a younger audience, this exciting memoir shows how, even in a desperate situation, one boy's brilliant idea can light up the world. Complete with photographs, illustrations, and an epilogue that will bring readers up to date on William's story, this is the perfect edition to read and share with the whole family.
The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi (Translated by Cathy Hirano)
Elin's family has an important responsibility: caring for the fearsome water serpents that form the core of their kingdom's army. So when some of the creatures mysteriously die, Elin's mother is sentenced to death as punishment. With her last breath, she manages to send her daughter to safety.
Alone and far from home, Elin soon discovers that she can communicate with both the terrifying water serpents and the majestic flying beasts that guard her queen. This skill gives her great power, but it also involves her in deadly plots that could cost her life. Can she save herself and prevent her beloved beasts from being used as tools of war? Or is there no escaping the terrible battles to come?
Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins
A refugee and child soldier challenge the rules of war in this coming-of-age novel set against the political and military backdrop of modern-day Burma.
Chiko isn’t a fighter by nature. He’s a book-loving Burmese boy whose father, a doctor, is in prison for resisting the government. Tu Reh, on the other hand, wants to fight for freedom after watching Burmese soldiers destroy his Karenni family’s home and bamboo fields. When Chiko is forced into the Burmese army and subsequently injured on a mission, the boys’ lives intersect. Timidity becomes courage and anger becomes compassion as both boys discover that everything is not as it seems. Mitali Perkins delivers a touching story about hopes, dreams, and the choices that define who we are.
The Sea in Winter by Christine Day
The author of I Can Make This Promise tells the story of a girl struggling to find her joy again.
It’s been a hard year for Maisie Cannon, ever since she hurt her leg and could not keep up with her ballet training and auditions.
Her blended family is loving and supportive, but Maisie knows that they just can’t understand how hopeless she feels. With everything she’s dealing with, Maisie is not excited for their family midwinter road trip along the coast, near the Makah community where her mother grew up.
But soon, Maisie’s anxieties and dark moods start to hurt as much as the pain in her knee. How can she keep pretending to be strong when on the inside she feels as roiling and cold as the ocean?
Great American Short Stories (Dover Thrift Editions) edited by Paul Negri
Featuring 19 of the finest works from the most distinguished writers in the American short-story tradition, this new compilation begins with Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1835 tale "Young Goodman Brown" and ranges across an entire century, concluding with Ernest Hemingway's 1927 classic, "The Killers." Other selections include Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart," Melville's "Bartleby," Harte's "The Luck of Roaring Camp," "To Build a Fire," by Jack London, "The Real Thing" by Henry James, F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Bernice Bobs Her Hair," plus stories by Mark Twain, Sarah Orne Jewett, Charles Chesnutt, Kate Chopin, Stephen Crane, Willa Cather, Ambrose Bierce, Theodore Dreiser, and others.
The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson
Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home — until they find a secret place, walled off in an unfinished attic bedroom. A portal opens to another reality, Askí, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything — including them.
Hidden Figures (Young Readers Edition) by Margot Lee Shetterly
This edition of Margot Lee Shetterly’s acclaimed book is perfect for young readers. It's the powerful story of four African-American female mathematicians at NASA who helped achieve some of the greatest moments in our space program.
Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.
This book brings to life the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, who lived through the Civil Rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the movement for gender equality, and whose work forever changed the face of NASA and the country.
Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang
Gene understands stories―comic book stories, in particular. Big action. Bigger thrills. And the hero always wins.
But Gene doesn’t get sports. As a kid, his friends called him “Stick” and every basketball game he played ended in pain. He lost interest in basketball long ago, but at the high school where he now teaches, it's all anyone can talk about. The men’s varsity team, the Dragons, is having a phenomenal season that’s been decades in the making. Each victory brings them closer to their ultimate goal: the California State Championships.
Once Gene gets to know these young all-stars, he realizes that their story is just as thrilling as anything he’s seen on a comic book page. He knows he has to follow this epic to its end. What he doesn’t know yet is that this season is not only going to change the Dragons’ lives but his own life as well.
Jazz Owls: A Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots by Margarita Engle
Thousands of young Navy sailors are pouring into Los Angeles on their way to the front lines of World War II. They are teenagers, scared, longing to feel alive before they have to face the horrors of battle. Hot jazz music spiced with cool salsa rhythms beckons them to dance with the local Mexican American girls, who jitterbug all night before working all day in the canneries. Proud to do their part for the war effort, these Jazz Owl girls are happy to dance with the sailors—until the blazing summer night when racial violence leads to murder.
Suddenly the young white sailors are attacking the girls’ brothers and boyfriends. The cool, loose zoot suits they wear are supposedly the reason for the violence—when in reality the boys are viciously beaten and arrested simply because of the color of their skin.
In soaring images and searing poems, this is the breathtaking story of what became known as the Zoot Suit Riots.
Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
During the summer of 1793, Mattie Cook lives above the family coffee shop with her widowed mother and grandfather. Mattie spends her days avoiding chores and making plans to turn the family business into the finest Philadelphia has ever seen. But then the fever breaks out.
Disease sweeps the streets, destroying everything in its path and turning Mattie's world upside down. At her feverish mother's insistence, Mattie flees the city with her grandfather. But she soon discovers that the sickness is everywhere, and Mattie must learn quickly how to survive in a city turned frantic with disease.
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.