The book group members assemble, grabbing novel-themed cookies from a plate as they settle into comfy chairs and take a sip of their favorite beverages. They chat animatedly about movies seen, soccer matches won, and plans to beat the next level in a favorite video game before turning their attention to the discussion leader. They are ready to talk books.
If I could host you all in my cozy living room for book discussion, 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. We've created a secure environment where kids gather and are guided by a discussion facilitator who helps these kids take their answers deeper. Instead of talking out loud, your kids will 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 transition book club between the Arrow and Boomerang. This club is for middle schoolers 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 #
The Pouch 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!
Our book club facilitator will guide students in provocative discussion of the Pouch of Boomerangs books. They'll coax, encourage, and expand how your middle schoolers 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 Pouch Book Club helps you with steps 1-3.
Your kids will both talk and write about literature without the imposition of specific writing forms.
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 Pouch of Boomerangs, to be used at home in conjunction with the club (the price of the issue of the Pouch is already included in the tuition for participation in the book club).
Note: Unlike the Arrow and Boomerang Book Clubs, titles for the Pouch Book Club do not change from year to year. Guides in the Pouch of Boomerangs also do not include Book Club Party School ideas.
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. 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!]
Unlike the Arrow and Boomerang Book Clubs, the titles for the Pouch Book Club do not change from year to year.
Here are the books we'll read:
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle. New York: Square Fish, 2007. 256 pages.
Meg's entire family is fascinated by the mysteries of the universe. Her father, an eminent physicist, has been missing for two years and she finds a clue to his disappearance when she meets three unique characters: Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which. Meg soon embarks on an otherworldly adventure to rescue him. Will she succeed?
The Master Puppeteer, Katherine Paterson. New York: HarperTeen, 1989. 179 pages.
Who is the man called Sabura, the mysterious bandit who robs the rich and helps the poor? And what is his connection with Yosida, the harsh and ill-tempered master of feudal Japan's most famous puppet theater? Young Jiro, an apprentice to Yosida, is determined to find out, even at risk to his own life.Meanwhile, Jiro devotes himself to learning puppetry. Kinshi, the puppet master's son, tutors him. When his sheltered life at the theater is shattered by mobs of hungry, rioting peasants, Jiro becomes aware of responsibilities greater than his craft. As he schemes to help his friend Kinshi and to find his own parent, Jiro stumbles onto a dangerous and powerful secret.—Amazon
The Sword in the Stone, T. H. White. New York: HarperCollins Children's Books, 2008. 368 pages.
Before there was a famous king named Arthur, there was a curious boy named Wart and a kind old wizard named Merlyn. Transformed by Merlyn into the forms of his fantasy, Wart learns the value of history from a snake, of education from a badger, and of courage from a hawk--the lessons that help turn a boy into a man. Together, Wart and Merlyn take the reader through this timeless story of childhood and adventure.—Amazon
Holes, Louis Sachar. New York: Yearling, 2000. 233 pages.
Stanley Yelnats is under a curse. A curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnats. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys' detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the warden makes the boys "build character" by spending all day, every day, digging holes: five feet wide and five feet deep. It doesn't take long for Stanley to realize there's more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment—and redemption.—Amazon
The View from Saturday, E. L. Konigsburg. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1998. 176 pages.
How had Mrs. Olinski chosen her sixth-grade Academic Bowl team? She had a number of answers. But were any of them true? How had she really chosen Noah and Nadia and Ethan and Julian? And why did they make such a good team? It was a surprise to a lot of people when Mrs. Olinski's team won the sixth-grade Academic Bowl contest at Epiphany Middle School. It was an even bigger surprise when they beat the seventh grade and the eighth grade, too. And when they went on to even greater victories, everyone began to ask: How did it happen?—Amazon
Number the Stars, Lois Lowry. New York: HMH Books for Young Readers, 2011. 146 pages.
As the German troops begin their campaign to "relocate" all the Jews of Denmark, Annemarie Johansen’s family takes in Annemarie’s best friend, Ellen Rosen, and conceals her as part of the family.Through the eyes of ten-year-old Annemarie, we watch as the Danish Resistance smuggles almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark, nearly seven thousand people, across the sea to Sweden. The heroism of an entire nation reminds us that there was pride and human decency in the world even during a time of terror and war. Winner of the 1990 Newbery Medal.—Amazon
The Endless Steppe, Esther Hautzig. New York: HarperCollins, 2018. 256 pages.
In June 1942, the Rudomin family is arrested by the Russians. They are "capitalists—enemies of the people." Forced from their home and friends in Vilna, Poland, they are herded into crowded cattle cars. Their destination: the endless steppe of Siberia.For five years, Ester and her family live in exile, weeding potato fields and working in the mines, struggling for enough food and clothing to stay alive. Only the strength of family sustains them and gives them hope for the future.—Amazon
The Cay, Theodore Taylor. New York: Laurel Leaf, 2003. 160 pages.
Phillip is excited when the Germans invade the small island of Curaçao. War has always been a game to him, and he’s eager to glimpse it firsthand—until the freighter he and his mother are traveling to the United States on is torpedoed.—Amazon
Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech. New York: HarperTeen, 2003. 304 pages.
Thirteen-year-old Salamanca Tree Hiddle, proud of her country roots and the "Indian-ness in her blood," travels from Ohio to Idaho with her eccentric grandparents. Along the way, she tells them of the story of Phoebe Winterbottom, who received mysterious messages, who met a "potential lunatic," and whose mother disappeared. As Sal entertains her grandparents with Phoebe's outrageous story, her own story begins to unfold—the story of a thirteen-year-old girl whose only wish is to be reunited with her missing mother.—Amazon
Shakespeare's Scribe, Gary Blackwood. New York: Puffin Books, 2002. 272 pages.
When an outbreak of the deadly Black Plague closes the Globe Theatre, William Shakespeare's acting troupe sets off on a tour of England. Widge, the orphan-turned-actor, knows that he'll be useful on the trip. Not only does he love the stage, but his knack for a unique shorthand has proven him one of the most valuable apprentices in the troupe. But then a mysterious man appears, claiming to know a secret from Widge's past-a secret that may forever force him from the theatre he loves.—Amazon
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.