Podcast: The Brave Writer Worldview (our not so secret agenda)

Brave Writer Podcast

One of the most popular questions we get as a company is to define (or identify) our underlying worldview. Parents who sift through the Internet looking for homeschool programs want to find companies that align enough with their values that they can trust them as tools to educate their children.

There are lots of ways curriculum companies operate. Some align explicitly with a particular religious faith. Some align with a political agenda or perspective—either to the left or right. Others adamantly identify as purely secular—no mention of anything that could be construed as religious. Still others claim to align with common core or public school standards.

There are some programs that opt out of ideology all together—particularly math companies, for instance.

So where on this spectrum does Brave Writer fall?

Listen to today’s podcast and find out!

Show Notes

Brave Writer began in January of 2000—23 years ago. At the time, I was a homeschooling mom with five children. My mission for my family was to expose my kids to the wide wonderful world through literature. I wanted my kids to see themselves to scale on planet earth. I wanted them to be exposed to the variety of cultures and experiences that make up our globe. My husband and I had both traveled the world and lived abroad. These were values we wanted our kids to have. I also hoped they’d get to care about history through historical fiction—novels set in the time periods we studied. So far, two of my kids live abroad, four of them studied abroad and one of them married a non-US citizen! I often say to Jon, their dad, “I think we overachieved.” I never thought I’d be longing for them to move home to Ohio. To them, planet earth is their home.

Brave Writer has a similar agenda: helping parents give their children a rich literary diet that showcases the wonderful world we share. What’s exciting is that more and more of the books we recommend today are written by members of the communities represented in the stories (that was less true when I was homeschooling). Our books also include the astonishing variety of people who live inside the United States, in particular, since that is where my company lives.

One of the principles that matters to us a lot is to make sure that Brave Writer honors the variety of people that make up the broad homeschooling community today. Homeschooling is not a monolith. When we hire, when we pick books, when we conduct research, our goal is to offer our community a sense of being seen and belonging.

That means when we select literature for the Brave Writer programs, we try to pick books that include as many different viewpoints as possible. We know those choices won’t always match each family’s experience or perspective. For instance, last year we heard feedback from families who don’t prefer the genre of fantasy for read alouds. We’ve also heard from families who have suffered tragic losses that wish we didn’t have parents or beloved pets die in our selections.

One way we think about our book choices is to consider them as mirrors and windows (Author Emily Style came up with this helpful way to talk about books). Books either mirror your experience (help you feel seen and known, help you look more deeply at your community) or they are windows into the experience of someone else. What’s one person’s mirror may be someone else’s window.

The goal of reading aloud is not to confirm our place in the world to the exclusion of knowing about other people and their place in the world. We read to know. We read to understand a bit better. We don’t read for agreement or bias confirmation. We’re allowed to hold our own reactions, opinions, and even judgments. We’re allowed to destabilize a viewpoint or challenge a perspective in the privacy of our own minds and homes.

Part of what we want to do with children is to give them a chance to right-size their place in the world—as one, among many. Even when we disagree with a value system, we want to understand the way other people construct meaning for their lives.

We live in a world that is made up of a variety of lived experiences. Reading a book that includes characters who have different beliefs around sexuality, different ideas about the afterlife, different attitudes toward parenting and marriage, different opinions about science and religion, different habits with regard to clothing or cooking or holidays or family celebrations gives us a chance to know one another. We do it at this removed distance that books allow us. We give our children the best chance to become acquainted with differences. And then we also read the comforting familiar tales in books that mirror our lives, too.

Sometimes a parent will say to me: “We don’t agree with the inclusion of this character in this book. We see them as living immorally.” 

My response to that is this: Even when we hold a different viewpoint than someone else, it can still be valuable to read about them. Reading provides a way to get to know someone with whom you disagree, before you run into them at co-op or on the soccer field. It’s a way to acknowledge that each person has inherent value, regardless of whether or not you agree with how they conduct their lives. Knowing how life is for someone with whom you disagree—acknowledging that they live among us—is necessary for the healthy development of all children, particularly those who are homeschooled and not in a classroom with lots of families. It’s up to us to prepare them. Reading aloud is one way we can have those conversations with our kids.

As homeschoolers, we know how much we want the wider population to stop caricaturing and stereotyping us. We want books and media representations that help people see homeschoolers as worthy of respect and rights. In fact, that’s what every population wants.

That said: each family makes choices about what they want to share with their children and when, particularly homeschoolers. Brave Writer offers a wide variety of literature choices so that if you don’t like one book we picked, there are surely others we’re confident you’ll love!

Brave Writer is interested in promoting a context where anyone who wants to participate, can. We provide mirrors and windows through our literature selections. We honor and value each student who attends an online class and allow them to be who they are when they write. The staff restrains themselves from sharing their personal politics or spiritual beliefs (or the absence of them). We hold space in our online community to welcome everyone—even when people differ dramatically in how they assemble their worldviews.

It’s not easy. I heard a speaker say one time: “When you’re a bridge, you get walked on from both sides.” Someone else told me that I am like Switzerland to them—neutral in the homeschool wars. I thought to myself: “Yeah, and Switzerland has a vast network of escape tunnels and stockpiles of munitions to protect themselves!”

It can feel pretty tricky to maintain this posture, but I’m committed to it. We are better thinkers when we expand to include more experiences than our own. We don’t have to give up our own committed beliefs or ideals, but we can also honor the similar feelings of our other homeschool colleagues and families. We are our most democratic selves when we realize that to safeguard our own rights, we must ensure the protection of others as well. We can only do that if we know who those others are. 

In conclusion, I suppose I can say that Brave Writer does have an agenda—and it’s not a secret. We want to support you in raising global citizens who think, read, and write well.


  • Looking for a new math program? Get a free trial of CTCMath.com today to get a free trial.
  • It’s that time of year: We’re announcing the new book list for the coming school year! Register for the Book Reveal June 1 & 2 webinars!
  • Sign up for our Text Message Pod Ring to get podcast updates and more!
  • Send us podcast topic ideas by texting us: +1 (833) 947-3684
  • Want help getting started with Brave Writer? Go to bravewriter.com/getting-started
  • Sign up for the Brave Writer newsletter to learn about all of the special offers we’re doing in 2022 and you’ll get a free seven-day Writing Blitz guide just for signing up: https://go.bravewriter.com/writing-blitz

Connect with Julie

Brave Writer Podcast

Comments are closed.