Warning: subverted expectations ahead!

Born a Crime isn’t your typical comedian memoir.

Yes, Trevor Noah is good at being funny, and his book contains plenty of laughs. His recording of this book will make you grin ear-to-ear (audiobook recommended!). But the true heart of this book lies in his thoughtful and honest portrayal of a family living under the apartheid regime in South Africa.

Because interracial relationships were illegal in South Africa, Trevor Noah was literally ‘born a crime.’ His Swiss father and Xhosa mother needed to keep his existence under wraps or be faced with a prison sentence. Thus began the eventful life of Trevor Noah.

Noah recounts his life story within the essential context of the economical, political and racial conditions in South Africa at the time. With levity and relatability, his modern voice offers a refreshing way for the current generation to learn about an important era in world history. Born a Crime was voted one of the best books of 2016 by The New York Times, Booklist and NPR.

Never before will your teen be so absorbed in a book while learning so much!

This four-week class will introduce students to the history of South Africa in the context of Noah’s book. We'll explore rhetorical elements such as angle of vision and the conventions of modern memoir writing. Students will discuss the experiences described in the book, examining Noah’s use of humor to convey truths and reflections on often-serious conditions. Students will also be expected to comment thoughtfully and respectfully on responses written by other students.

Our last week will tie together what students have learned about Trevor Noah and his experience of South Africa into a larger writing project of 500-1000 words. Here, students get to leap into the pool of literary analysis, connecting their own dots and sharing their interpretations of what they've read.

Embrace the adventure! The life of a single person can be a fantastic lens for engaging with the broader view—making it the perfect launching pad for a unit of discovery in your homeschool. Students may be inspired to learn more, and there are lots of places they can take this! African animals and habitats, gold and diamond mining, settlement and immigration, Nelson Mandela and the many peoples and languages, art and music that come from South Africa.

IMPORTANT: Brave Writer cannot ensure the appropriateness of this reading material for your child. This class is recommended for high school students, but it is up to the parent to review a book thoroughly to determine whether or not it is suitable for your child to read. There are two versions of Born a Crime — the original and a young readers edition. Either is acceptable for this class. Class discussion may include sensitive topics such as racism, criminal behavior, poverty, and violence.

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.

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.