To grow a writing voice, it helps to listen to and learn from a wide variety of writing voices. Not only that, literary analysis can be the tool that unlocks buried treasure in a book and we intend to help you dig! We’ll also take a closer look at the NEW product called Slingshot (15-18 year olds).
June 29, 2021
The Sale is Almost Over Q&A Tuesday, June 29, @ 1pm – 2pm (Eastern) Register
With 24 hours left, get your last minute questions answered so you can make the right purchase for your family! Julie, live, ready to roll!
Did you guess 40? 55? 70? In fact, she read over 100.
The jigsaw puzzle of selecting books is no small feat! What follows is Dawn’s outline of how we go about putting together a year of reading with your family that leads to rich learning and family closeness. Can’t wait to share our brand new book lists for 2021-2022 with you on June 1 and 2!
What’s the process of pulling the book lists together?
Customers recommend books or topics
Staff members suggest books
We follow publishers to keep up with what’s new
We keep tabs on new and popular books on GoodReads and other book-related sites
Those recommendations go into a project and we read throughout the year—yes, we are already reading for the 2022–2023 lists!
There’s no guarantee that a book we love will even make a list. There are lots of moving parts once we start putting the books into a sequence and stand them up side-by-side. For instance, we don’t want a string of depressing story-lines or too many books in a row that feature animals as the protagonists.
As the year progresses, we look for what’s missing—holes—in the lists. We want to ensure a year of reading that feels fresh each month, not a retread of what has already been experienced.
We also keep in mind the books we feature in our Literature Singles—books from previous years. The trick is to find the magic TEN that will make a list (FIVE, for the Slingshot).
What does a book need to make the cut?
Amazing writing is the first hurdle for a book. That’s not to say that every book on our list has the most stellar writing—sometimes a book’s popularity with kids lands it a spot which allows us to showcase mechanics in a book your kids already enjoy.
We look for an engaging plot or slice of life. A rip-roaring plot can pull readers along and keep them engaged, but sometimes it’s nice to slow down and appreciate the quiet moments in life. Bronze and Sunflower comes to mind—there’s a plot, of course, but the amazing aspect of that book is the level of daily life details, and, of course, the writing. It knocked our socks off!
The book needs to be appropriate for the developmental level. A book might bump up to a Boomerang or down to an Arrow or Dart depending on the themes or the vocabulary.
We always look for party possibilities, of course! (*wink*). Some books just scream “Party with me!” (we’re looking at you, PIE!), while other books deal with heavier topics that don’t lend themselves to a “party” atmosphere. You may have noticed that some issues refer to the book club as a “gathering” rather than a “party.” It’s a slight shift, but a good distinction to make when considering the celebration of books with heavier topics.
What are our considerations?
Library of variety. Our goal in putting together our book lists is to provide a “library of variety” in two ways: genre and representation. In terms of genre, we include historical fiction, graphic novels, fantasy, poetry, and modern fiction to name a few. In terms of representation, we look for characters and authors from a wide variety of backgrounds. We are particularly attuned to the trend in publishing called Own Voices books—meaning the author is a member of the community that is the focus of the book.
Filling gaps in our overall Literature Singles list. In the fall of 2019, Dawn attended an Equity in Action course for librarians. The goal of the course was to learn how to audit a collection of books by surveying the standing collection and looking for gaps in representation. Our audit helped us make selections that fill those gaps. It’s a satisfying process, even if it’s a long and ongoing one here at Brave Writer.
Finding windows and mirrors. You may have heard that books can be both windows and mirrors. The phrase “mirrors and windows” was first introduced by Emily Style for the National SEED Project. A mirror is a story that reflects your own culture and helps you build your identity. A window is a resource that offers you a view into someone else’s experience. Rudine Sims Bishop expanded on these concepts with the addition of sliding glass doors that allow readers to walk into a story. Then Grant Snider, a comic artist, expanded it even further: stepping stones, overcoats, anchors, springboards, escape hatches, quiet corners, warm blankets, flying carpets, and beacons for new readers.
Good books grow empathy, and this month’s Dart, Arrow, and Boomerang selections are no exception. As we explore grammar, punctuation, spelling, and literary devices, we’ll have the opportunity to grow new perspectives and deeper understanding.
We’ll see the world through the eyes of:
and a beloved TV hero.
We’ll witness their hardships and cheer on our protagonists in their quests to overcome adversity.
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The Trumpet of the Swan, E.B. White
Like the rest of his family, Louis is a trumpeter swan. But unlike his four brothers and sisters, Louis can’t trumpet joyfully. In fact, he can’t even make a sound. And since he can’t trumpet his love, the beautiful swan Serena pays absolutely no attention to him.
Louis tries everything he can think of to win Serena’s affection—he even goes to school to learn to read and write. But nothing seems to work. Then his father steals him a real brass trumpet. Is a musical instrument the key to winning Louis his love?
The Trumpet of the Swan joins E. B. White favorites Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little as classic illustrated novels that continue to speak to today’s readers. Whether you curl up with your young reader to share these books or hand them off for independent reading, you are helping to create what are likely to be all-time favorite reading memories.~Amazon
A thrilling series that soars above the competition and redefines middle-grade fantasy fiction for a new generation!
The seven dragon tribes have been at war for generations, locked in an endless battle over an ancient, lost treasure. A secret movement called the Talons of Peace is determined to bring an end to the fighting, with the help of a prophecy—a foretelling that calls for great sacrifice.
Five dragonets are collected to fulfill the prophecy, raised in a hidden cave and enlisted, against their will, to end the terrible war.
But not every dragonet wants a destiny. And when the select five escape their underground captors to look for their original homes, what has been unleashed on the dragon world may be far more than the revolutionary planners intended… ~Amazon
George Takei has captured hearts and minds worldwide with his captivating stage presence and outspoken commitment to equal rights. But long before he braved new frontiers in Star Trek, he woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father’s—and their entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future.
In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was rounded up and shipped to one of ten “relocation centers,” hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard.
They Called Us Enemy is Takei’s firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.
What does it mean to be American? Who gets to decide? When the world is against you, what can one person do? To answer these questions, George Takei joins co-writers Justin Eisinger & Steven Scott and artist Harmony Becker for the journey of a lifetime. ~Amazon
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