Archive for the ‘Brave Writer Lifestyle’ Category

How Movies Made Me a Reader and Writer

why you should let your kids watch adaptations

By Brave Writer Alum Amy Frantz

I would often hear, either in the homes of family members or in the aisles of stores, a parent telling their child, “You have to read the book first,” when the child asked for a movie. I heard this all through my childhood outside of our home and it never made sense to me.

Movies made me a reader and a writer.

Allow me to explain:

I am severely dyslexic. By the age of eleven, I still could not read well. In fact, I didn’t start reading well until my teens. Reading is physically painful for me, but I did it and do it for long chunks of time a day anyway. Reading is vitally important to me, but for a large part of my childhood and adolescence I couldn’t read or couldn’t read well.

So, I watched movies and TV shows instead. I first travelled to Narnia through the television and the BBC’s excellent Chronicles of Narnia adaptations. I met Harry Potter and journeyed to Hogwarts through the cinema, not through the written word. I had adventures with Peter Rabbit through animation. Film and television ignited my love of stories, a love which has lasted my entire life.

I was quite lucky to be raised outside the school system by a homeschooling mother who was calmly undismayed by my difficulty reading. My mom steadfastly believed that I would get there in my own time, in my own way. And I did.

I was raised in a language rich environment. My mom read to my brothers and me daily. For long car rides, we had audio books. Mom would take us to the library and I would go to the kid’s section and take a seat beside the Beatrix Potter books. I couldn’t read them, but I liked to be near her words. I would flip through the books, looking at the illustrations, and running my fingers over her words. I checked out books I couldn’t really read ‘cause I wanted to take the words with me and I was allowed to do that.

But more than all this, my parents allowed me to have access to adaptations of books. No one insisted that I “read the book first.” I was allowed to check out the BBC Chronicles of Narnia from the library as many times as I wanted. I’m sure I watched the first Harry Potter movie until my entire family was sick of it.

I loved these stories so much and I loved words even if their written form was a tricky foreign country with unreadable road signs. Because I loved stories so much, I wanted access to their source material.

Movies and television not only made me want to read books,
but they made the reading easier.

When I begged my mom to let me have the first Harry Potter novel, it was a struggle for me to read it at the age of eleven. But because I already knew the basic story, because I knew how most of the pieces fit, if I had to skip sections or couldn’t understand large swaths of paragraphs, that was okay because I wouldn’t get lost.

Adaptations gave me a road map for this strange land of written words that can still be difficult for me to navigate even today. If I don’t concentrate, the words will fracture and all their meaning will run right off the page. Movies and television helped me to put the meaning back when I was still struggling so hard to read.

I honestly don’t know how my development would have gone if I had been raised in an environment that limited my access to stories. I might not enjoy reading now and I probably wouldn’t be a writer.

When I was young, my parents gave me a bulky red tape recorder that I could carry around with me, and I told my stories into that because I couldn’t yet write. It was counted as writing even though there wasn’t a pen in my hand.

My mom accommodated my learning disability. While she still diligently worked with me at handwriting and phonics, undeterred by my seeming lack of much progress, she also gave me access to the forms of language and expression that were easiest for me, instead of insisting I restrict myself to the forms which were painful, difficult, and limiting.

Developing reading and writing skills in children don’t always look like a child sitting with a book open in their hands or physically putting a pen to paper. Sometimes a child developing reading and writing skills looks like watching Harry Potter for the thousandth time or speaking into a recording device. I think it’s important to give kids access to stories and language in the ways that are easiest for them. While still teaching the ‘hard’ stuff, sure, but not letting the hard stuff dominate the child’s linguistic landscape.

I grew up with fantastical stories and words, so many words, running through my head. I grew up with Narnia and Hogwarts and Wonderland, Winnie-the-Pooh and Shakespeare, and so many more. I had a childhood rich in language, but it oftentimes might have looked to an outsider like a kid “just watching television.”

I put forth for your consideration that a child who wants to watch the same Disney film for the third time this week is a child who wants to actively engage with a story and with words spoken and sung. That’s a child loving a story just as much as the child curled up on the couch with a book. And sometimes kids need to come at stories through a screen before they can pick up the book. If a child loves stories, they will probably want to pick up the book when it’s right for them, and that’s the most important thing.

Movie Discussion Club

#Braveschoolers are the Best Schoolers -with Chantelle Grubbs

Brave Writer Podcast: Chantelle Grubbs

We’re nearing the end of season 2 of the podcast. Hasn’t it been great? Only a couple more weeks! (Shhh: We’re prepping Season 3.)

Today I offer you Episode 8 which is with the lovely Chantelle Grubbs of of Play 4 Life Moms! She’s a mom who’s truly incorporated the Brave Writer Lifestyle into her large family—and she tells it like it is: the real, the wonderful, and the challenging! We had a great conversation (and she’s got an adorable southern accent).

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download show notes.

Brave Writer Podcast Show Notes
Download Show Notes

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Tune in to the Brave Writer podcast on iTunes, Stitcher (or your app of choice), and here on the Brave Writer blog.


Would you please post a review on iTunes for us? You’ll help a homeschooler like you find more joy in the journey when you do. Thanks in advance!

Remember Self-Care – with Amy Milcic

Brave Writer Podcast with Amy Milcic

Join us for Episode 7 of our Brave Writer’s Life in Brief podcast!

Amy Milcic is a former mental health therapist and a homeschooling parent of five active, busy boys. She has a great blog, Rock Your Homeschool, that will add sparkle to your family’s learning fun.

I first ran into Amy on Periscope, where she starts her day by pumping up other homeschool moms (I think coffee is one of her secrets!). Today, she is going to help pump you up in your homeschool efforts, too.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download show notes.

Brave Writer Podcast Show Notes
Download Show Notes

Want to be notified when a new podcast is released?
Sign up here.

Tune in to the Brave Writer podcast on iTunes, Stitcher (or your app of choice), and here on the Brave Writer blog.


Would you please post a review on iTunes for us? You’ll help a homeschooler like you find more joy in the journey when you do. Thanks in advance!

Implementing Brave Writer in Your Homeschool

Implementing Brave Writer in Your Homeschool

The goal of The Writer’s Jungle:

  • Read a chapter.
  • Do what’s in it.

Allow yourself to actually take the time to do the processes. Don’t hurry ahead. Trust that the process IS teaching. You want your kids to slowly build the ability to tune in to themselves and hook up the hand with the brain.

Each chapter in The Writer’s Jungle gives you something to do. Don’t run ahead. Focus on one chapter at a time. Skip the Preface (it is meant to be additional material that we added in 2005). Save it for later. Start with the core chapters (and Chapter 14 provides a nice overview).

For the Arrow—the process goes like this:

  • Read the book aloud.
  • Go at any pace that works for you.

Then each week, look at the passage for the week. Read it together. You can read it from The Arrow or in the book itself. You can read the notes I give you ahead of time and discuss them with your child in your own voice, or you can read them aloud. Whatever feels right to you. You don’t HAVE to cover every item in the notes. They are meant to slowly train YOU to see literary devices, grammar and spelling opportunities, punctuation and more.

You can zero in on one or two or all of them depending on your child. Discuss a little. Look at the passage and say (for instance): “Who sees periods?” They will point them out. Then ask, “Any other end marks?” They point to an exclamation point and a question mark. Ask: “How do they change how you read the sentences?” Then have them try reading the sentences in a row each one with a slightly different emphasis. Then use the notes to help you explain. Like that.

Next, your child will handwrite (copy) the passage—it might take all week, it might take a day. You can choose to then use the same passage for dictation or one of the other two methods on a day of your choosing. Read the Guidelines to get some insight into how to do that.

The WHOLE goal in the Arrow is to give you tools to help you bring the passage to life and to see it for its mechanics and literary value—while using copywork and dictation practices.

The Literary Element each month can be read and discussed and then experienced with the Writing Activity of the month (which should take about half a day). You aren’t going for some kind of mastery as much as conversational exposure and repetition until your kids SEE them themselves in writing and then eventually TRY them in their own writing.

Try not to overthink this. It is meant to be easy for you!

Think of it more like this: we are giving you notes (things to consider as you read). You don’t even have to master them yourself. Just consider. For instance, in The Green Ember we talk about affixes. You certainly don’t even need to use the name “affix” unless you want to. But what it you simply go back to the Week One passage and find any word that seems to have a little extra bit on it? The “un,” the “ly,” the “in” are all given to you to find. Look at the words. Think about them. Discuss how words are “built” like Lego. Like that.

Our goal is to give you things to look at, to talk about, to consider. Try to move away from “mastery” and “getting things done.” Allow the notes to give you pause and create moments of inquiry. Yes, you may not actually know these terms or categories! It’s like when I realized I didn’t understand multiplication or couldn’t remember how to divide fractions.

Take the time to think about the concepts so that YOU have a moment of transformation. If it feels like too much, just do that for one passage in a month. Let THAT be enough depth and simply copy the other passages. Like that.

Grow over time, allow the tools to be your guide, not your task-master.

Curious about Brave Writer?

Partnership & Adventure in Home Education – with Mary Wilson

Brave Writer Podcast with Mary Wilson
Join us for Episode 6 of our Brave Writer’s Life in Brief podcast!

Today we have Mary Wilson with us. Mary is a popular Brave Writer blogger and the only person I know who may love tea more than I do. In her blog, Not Before 7, she writes about homeschooling, parenting, and adventure.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download show notes.

Brave Writer Podcast Show Notes
Download Show Notes

Want to be notified when a new podcast is released?
Sign up here.

Tune in to the Brave Writer podcast on iTunes, Stitcher (or your app of choice), and here on the Brave Writer blog.


Would you please post a review on iTunes for us? You’ll help a homeschooler like you find more joy in the journey when you do. Thanks in advance!