Archive for the ‘Arrow’ Category

Dart, Arrow, and Boomerang: Sept. 2020

September 2020 Dart Arrow Boomerang

What do a train, a hot-air balloon, and a magical creature called a brownie have in common?

If you guessed that they are all featured in the Brave Writer September book selections, you’re right!

While exploring grammar, punctuation, spelling, and literary devices, you can also

  • perform perilous stunts with Pearl,
  • solve magical mysteries with Louisa,
  • or travel home by train with Saroo.

The Brave Writer Dart, Arrow, and Boomerang guides pair living literature with lively lessons to help make mundane writing mechanics come alive.

Act out adjectives, fall over in a fit of giggles over comma usage, and break the “rules” by watching the movie first!

Read. Engage. Connect.

[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!]

The Prairie Thief, Melissa Wiley

Louisa Brody’s life on the Colorado prairie is not at all what she expected. Her dear Pa, accused of thievery, is locked thirty miles away in jail. She’s living with the awful Smirches, her closest neighbors and the very family that accused her Pa of the horrendous crime. And now she’s discovered one very cantankerous—and magical—secret beneath the hazel grove. With her life flipped upside-down, it’s up to Louisa, her sassy friend Jessamine, and that cranky secret to save Pa from a guilty verdict.

Ten bold illustrations from Erwin Madrid accompany seasoned storyteller Melissa Wiley’s vibrant and enchanting tale of life on the prairie—with one magical twist. ~Amazon

Get the Dart.

Purchase the book.

The Nerviest Girl in the WorldMelissa Wiley

Pearl lives on a ranch where her chores include collecting eggs and feeding ornery ostriches. She has three older brothers, who don’t coddle her at all. And she knows a thing or two about horses, too.

One day, Pearl’s brothers get cushy jobs doing stunts for this new form of entertainment called “moving pictures.” They’re the Daredevil Donnelly Brothers, a Death-Defying Cowboy Trio. Before she knows it, Pearl has stumbled into being a stunt girl herself—and dreams of becoming a star. The only problem is, her mother has no idea what she’s up to. And let’s just say she wouldn’t be too happy to find out that Pearl’s been jumping out of burning buildings in her spare time. Filled with action, humor, and heart–not to mention those pesky ostriches—The Nerviest Girl in the World introduces a spunky heroine whose adventures will have kids on the edge of their seats and whose sense of humor will have them laughing until the very last line. ~Amazon

Get the Arrow.

Purchase the book.

A Long Way Home: A Memoir, Saroo Brierley

This is the miraculous and triumphant story of Saroo Brierley, a young man who used Google Earth to rediscover his childhood life and home in an incredible journey from India to Australia and back again.

At only five years old, Saroo Brierley got lost on a train in India. Unable to read or write or recall the name of his hometown or even his own last name, he survived alone for weeks on the rough streets of Calcutta before ultimately being transferred to an agency and adopted by a couple in Australia.

Despite his gratitude, Brierley always wondered about his origins. Eventually, with the advent of Google Earth, he had the opportunity to look for the needle in a haystack he once called home and pore over satellite images for landmarks he might recognize or mathematical equations that might further narrow down the labyrinthine map of India. One day, after years of searching, he miraculously found what he was looking for and set off to find his family.

A Long Way Home is a moving, poignant, and inspirational true story of survival and triumph against incredible odds. It celebrates the importance of never letting go of what drives the human spirit: Hope. ~Amazon

Get the Boomerang.

Purchase the book.

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