Archive for the ‘Arrow’ Category

The Breakfast Table Can Change the World

The Breakfast Table Can Change the World

Brave Writer launched their new book lists for the coming year. It’s an annual celebration of reading and learning. Children tune in to our webinar with their parents and eat special breakfasts all for a glimpse of the joys of reading books they’ll share with their families during the coming school year.

I look forward to this day every year. I read a brief description of the book on camera to tease it and the families guess which book in the comments section until I finally reveal it with a flourish.

We’re committed in Brave Writer to providing a diversity of authors and protagonists, genres and stories. It matters to me that we give our families a variety of perspectives to consider each year. It takes us an astounding amount of time to vet books and find the right mix for each level (30 books total).

What is usually the high point of the Brave Writer calendar (what we affectionately call the “NFL Draft of books”) felt different the day of the reveal.

I knew that in the wake of the unjust murder of George Floyd, my social media feed would be flooded with outrage, with calls to action. Minneapolis were on fire and riot police were out in force in Los Angeles and Denver and Memphis.

I’m sensitive to the conversation, want to do my part to advance the cause of anti-racism in America.

As I prepared over breakfast, I realized that the best work all of us can do is with our children. The breakfast table is where we learn what to believe.

I took a class in graduate school that examined the civil rights movement in America. I’ll never forget my professor explaining that the dinner table conversations for African American families were different from those held at suburban white dinner tables.

For instance, in Los Angeles, during the 1980s and 1990s, it was well known in South Central that the police sometimes planted evidence to make an arrest of a black man. This understanding was as well established in their families as my understanding that if I were to be pulled over by a cop for a traffic ticket, I would be treated with respect and could probably get out of it if I cried.

When the OJ Simpson trial ended in a “not guilty” verdict, many people cited the acquittal of the police in the Rodney King case—that this was a revenge verdict. But that’s not what the jurors said. When asked on what grounds they found OJ not guilty, I remember one juror saying, “The LAPD planted the evidence.”

I thought at the time how unlikely and ludicrous that was—how could anyone think that the LAPD would be corrupt?

And then the late 1990s brought us the Rampart Scandal.

“More than 70 police officers either assigned to or associated with the Rampart CRASH unit were implicated in some form of misconduct, making it one of the most widespread cases of documented police corruption in U.S. history, responsible for a long list of offenses including unprovoked shootings, unprovoked beatings, planting of false evidence, stealing and dealing narcotics, bank robbery, perjury, and the covering up of evidence of these activities.” (Wikipedia)

It was years later in grad school that I remember the shock it was to discover that the police-planting-evidence report the juror cited had been believable to her, because those cases were well known in South Central. She had heard them for years.

(This is not a comment on whether the police did or did not plant evidence in the OJ case—only that Johnny Cochran’s claim that they had had more weight for this juror as a result of the well established understanding that the LAPD did sometimes plant evidence.)

As it turns out: table conversations determine so much of what we believe to be true.

Which is why I’m committed to reading diverse literature with children—to having breakfast, lunch, and dinner conversations that include other experiences of life in America, and in the world than our own.

If all we know is what we hear at home, it’s hard to accept someone else’s report. But if we go out of our way to encounter the stories and experiences of others, deliberately choosing to be uncomfortable for the sake of greater awareness and understanding, we are more likely to grow a wiser, more just society.

As I logged into Zoom and plugged in my mic, I imagined children all over the world meeting protagonists from Pakistan and Syria. I imagined them talking about a harrowing journey to freedom in Mañanaland. I thought about the power of African American folk tales and George Takei’s autobiographical experience in the Japanese internment camps portrayed in his graphic novel. This years’ students will read two books about Native Americans by Native Americans and another book about being Chinese American by Grace Lin.

Our beliefs are shaped by the stories we trade with our families. One way to combat racism of all types is to read better books, to care about the characters, to learn their perspectives, and then talk about them together.

A good practice for adults too.

Brave Writer Language Arts Programs

2020-2021 Arrows and Boomerangs

2020-2021 Arrows and Boomerangs plus the Dart

Did you miss the Book Reveal Party? Or would you like to watch it again? 

Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered!

Grab your tea and a treat. Pull your kids over to watch with you. Make a list of books you are looking forward to reading next year. 

Watch here!

Pressed for time?

Go directly to the Dart, Arrow and Boomerang pages on our website for the book lists and links to their pages on Amazon.

ETA: We have replaced Cricket in Times Square with The Prairie Thief by Melissa Wiley for the Dart in September.

What’s included in our year-long language arts programs? 

  • The Dart is designed for kids 8-10 years of age.
  • The Arrow is for children 11-12 years of age.
  • The Boomerang is teens 13-15 years of age.

Each Mechanics and Literature program includes:

  • Four expertly selected copywork and dictation passages
  • Lively, clearly worded notes about spelling, punctuation, grammar, and literary elements related to the passages
  • Discussion of literary craft
  • Big Juicy Questions to inspire conversation and writing
  • Book Club Party ideas to celebrate the completion of the book and guide
  • Guidelines that teach you how to use copywork and dictation to teach the mechanics of writing (Look for the separate guidelines PDF in the after-purchase email from Brave Writer.

Coming Soon: Big Bonanza Book Reveal

2020-21 Arrows and Boomerangs

Oh the stack is growing as the books roll in…

Our 🎉 Big Bonanza Book Reveal Party 🎉 is coming your way. It’s a global event and your kids are invited.

May 28 is like the NFL Draft of Read Alouds! We will announce book selections for the 2020-2021 school year for kids aged from 8-15!

These will be the read alouds for three of our programs—including the Arrow and Boomerang—and one more with a mystery name!


When: May 28, 2020 11:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: Brave Writer Book Reveal 2020-2021
Register for the live webinar:

A replay will be available.

Will also be simulcast on Facebook.

You won’t want to miss it. We’re told that your kids get excited for the coming school year during the broadcast! It’s, in a word, awesome!

Brave Writer Arrow and Boomerang Programs

Arrow Book Club: May 2020

Arrow Book Club

Brave Writer’s Arrow Book Club (for ages 9-12) 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.”

[This post 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!]

What we’re reading in May: The Boy Who Saved Baseball, John H. Ritter. Puffin Books Reprint Edition, 2005. 224 pages.

A plucky, underdog of a team is going the distance—with a bit of unconventional help—to save their local ball field and maybe baseball itself! Not just for baseball fanatics, this story has something for just about everyone. Strong girls, funny boys, delightful character interactions, and cross-generational teamwork bring this story of community and friendship together in a way that will make you laugh, make you sigh, and maybe even make you shed a tear or two. You don’t have to have a household full of baseball fans to love this book. The characters drive the story—and they will stick with you long after the last inning.

Purchase the novel here.

Arrow Book Club

A Surprise Package of New Ideas

A Surprise Package of New Ideas

Back in 2002, I dreaded opening a big thick textbook for any school subject. There’s something heavy about knowing you have 200+ pages of any program to get through, delivered all at once, to be parsed out correctly over ten months.

I had been using Family Fun magazine as my primary schooling inspiration in the 1990s, and loved it! Each month came fresh. Felt like a surprise package of good new ideas!

It dawned on me that we could do something similar for writing and education at home.

  • What if we picked one read aloud per month for the whole family?
  • What if all the language arts activities and practices were included in one package?
  • What if the practices could be modified up or down for a variety of ages and skills?

The Arrow was born—one book to read aloud, one family to listen, four copywork/dictation passages to adapt to all levels + notes in conversational English, one literary element explored, one writing activity to try. The Arrow spread like wildfire. I think you all felt relieved, just like I did. One month at a time.

I must have tapped into something because the Arrow quickly became our best-selling product (still is). We expanded to create similar products for other levels (the Boomerang is the higher level). And we’ve expanded the contents to include discussion questions and book club party ideas.

Today, the monthly Arrow and Boomerang run some 40 pages! We don’t leave you to figure out how to use them either. We provide detailed, user-friendly guidelines, too.

What’s cool is we’ve been at it for 18 years so we have a slew of single issues for a wide variety of titles. You can pick a book you want to read and buy an Arrow or Boomerang to go with it.

For under $12.00 (!), you will purchase a month’s worth of reading, writing, and language arts for multiple ages of kids, complete with guidance for how to grow your writers.

Check out the Single Issues of the Arrow and Boomerang in our store.

We have free samples (click on single issues pages) for you as well. All products are digital and can be printed at home or via any print shop if you prefer.