Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

Struggling to Read

Brave Writer

Is your child struggling to read well (or at all)?

I’m listening to a podcast (suggested by a Brave Writer fan) called “Sold a Story” about the failure of a popular method of teaching reading that doesn’t emphasize explicit phonics instruction. Emily Hanford, the show’s host, cites data that indicates that nearly 65% of fourth graders are poor readers.

Most home educators use a phonics-driven program to teach reading. I remember using a little book by Ruth Beechik to begin that instruction with my oldest son. He sat at the table while I used a white board to connect vowel sounds with a variety of consonants on either side: hat, cat, pad, bag; pig, sit, bid, sip.

Lots of tortured sounding out followed, but it was the act of noticing each letter that eventually unlocked his ability to read. I discovered with my daughter that she was doing such a good job of paying attention to the alphabet, she struggled to differentiate the different fonts for the same letters! Once we figured that out, she took off.

The Starting Place: Phonics

Phonics is the place to start because reading is foundationally the capacity to use the alphabet to transcribe and signal the familiar words we speak orally. In fact, it’s a pretty ingenious system that has made it possible to learn other languages. We transcribe the sounds our mouths make in order to remind us of the words or to preserve oral language for others to read later.

Certainly reading must be taught (it’s not caught like speech). The power of reading does more than introduce kids to a world of fascinating ideas and stories. It also allows children to become their own transcriptionists (writers). Those who struggle to read will struggle to spell and handwrite too.

If you wonder where to find a reputable phonics program, I recommend Pinwheels by Rooted in Language. Check it out.

Read Aloud

And remember to read to your kids. A child’s academic imagination grows in direct relation to immersion in story.

So whether you homeschool or not, you can teach your child to read. Be patient, take your time, add treats and snuggles.

Let’s raise readers!


This post is originally from my @juliebravewriter Instagram account.
Follow along for more conversations like this one!


Brave Learner Home

Teaming Up with Here Wee Read

Literature Collaboration Here Wee Read Brave Writer

We love small book shops! That’s why we’ve teamed up with our longtime friend Charnaie Gordon at Here Wee Read to offer the Brave Writer Mechanics and Literature program books through her shop at Bookshop.org.

Charnaie was a guest speaker at our Brave Learner Conference in Cincinnati, has been on the Brave Writer podcast, and offered a helpful session at our Homebound Conference. Our Brave Writer community also sent books to help support the 50 States 50 Books campaign inspired by Charnaie’s children to “help close the literacy gap one state at a time!”

Such a fruitful relationship!

Purchasing the 2021–2022 Brave Writer books through her website is a beautiful way to support her small shop (filled with fantastic titles for a wide range of readers) and provide you with a one-stop shop for your Dart, Arrow, Boomerang, and Slingshot readers. 

Find the titles all in one place under the Brave Writer Dart, Arrow, Boomerang, and Slingshot titles section of the Here Wee Read shop.

And look around for other great book recommendations while you are there! 


Brave Writer Language Arts

Summer Camp Reading

Summer Camp Reading

Help us Support Summer Camp Reading!

Donate Here

This year, Brave Writer is using some of our proceeds to fund an organization in Cincinnati dedicated to making reading a powerful and enjoyable experience for children 7-10 years of age.

Because Brave Writer prioritizes reading and writing, equity in education, and online access for all, we are thrilled to partner with Summer Camp Reading.

With sites in under-resourced neighborhoods and online, Summer Camp Reading works with upcoming 2nd 3rd and 4th graders who are struggling to read. The key to their success is the combination of:

  • one-on-one tutoring with reading professionals,
  • Book of the Day with crafts,
  • group work,
  • writing,
  • laptop center,
  • service project,
  • books to take home and own,
  • and a lot of fun in a nurturing environment.

Every child improves.

Their style of education is such a great match to Brave Writer’s! In fact, the organizers told me that these are camps not summer school. Don’t you love it?

We’ll be donating our Dart and Arrow books from past years to the camps as well.

Our goal is to raise $29,000.00 to fully fund the growth of their online services to families who can’t attend live. Brave Writer is donating half of the total they need. We’re inviting YOU to contribute the other half!

Will you join us?

Your donation will increase online access for families that cannot afford tutoring, will allow them to update online curriculum and website, and to provide books for children to own.

Let’s do this together!

Donate here (and please select “Brave Writer” when you make your donation so we can keep track of how well we are funding the program as a community): https://summercampreading.org/support.html

Summer Camp Reading

Tolkien Reading Day

Tolkien Reading Day 2020

March 25 is Tolkien Reading Day!

The Hobbit is by far our most popular Boomerang* language arts guide! Why? You might say, J. R. R. Tolkien has a bit of a following. (If you have a day, you’re popular! Just saying…)

Brave Writer is no exception in this matter: We’re fans!  

Not only did we accompany Bilbo on his uncomfortable adventure in The Hobbit through the Boomerang, but we’ve thrown a Hobbit-themed Poetry Teatime (with no cracked dishes or broken plates) and traveled with Bilbo there and back again on Movie Wednesday

Are you a Tolkien fan?

  • What’s your favorite Tolkien book?
  • Favorite Tolkien quote?
  • When did you first read Tolkien and what were your first thoughts?
  • What’s your fancy: books or movies? (Or: Both are awesome!)
  • What will you do to celebrate Tolkien Reading Day? 

Use the questions above for writing prompts! And feel free to share your family’s answers on our Facebook page.

*The Boomerang is a digital downloadable product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel. It is geared toward 8th to 10th graders (ages 12—advanced, 13-15) and is the indispensable tool for Brave Writer parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context.

And yet we are inclusive readers…

And yet we are inclusive readers

In the land of homeschool, there are many divisions. Groups form for all sorts of reasons. Some are benign: we all play cello; we are putting on a play. Some are ideological: we like classical education, we are unschoolers. Some are religious: we follow this ancient book, we follow this other ancient book. Some are not any of the above, simply: we are local to this city or town.

Over and over again, homeschoolers (already a smallish group in the community of educational options) further subdivide into even pickier criteria for forming group relationships. It’s as if it’s not enough to keep our children home where we have control over what they watch, read, and do every day. The tendency is to form tightly controlled communities for our participation as well—including the like-minded or like-behaviored, and excluding those who can’t toe our line. A policy statement—the criteria for joining—is narrowly crafted and in some cases, even designed to exclude the “dangerous other.”

I know that part of the attractive charm of home education is the notion that we can distill our values and convey them to our kids unhindered by the “big bad government” (so the feeling goes).

Yet a strange thing happens on the way to this carefully crafted community of like-mindednesss.

We read books.

We homeschoolers read LOADS of books. In fact, we pride ourselves on the variety, scope, span, and diversity of the books we read to our children. We seek books that expand our children’s experiences and enrich their imaginations.

We introduce them to monsters, thieves, people from thousands of years ago, and people living in our time. Our children meet in those pages rich people with money and poor people without, people with moral scruples and the unpleasant unscrupulous.

Heck, we introduce our kids to members of other religious faiths, scientists who have rejected religion, and characters who possess magical powers.

Many homeschoolers have a commitment to global awareness. They want their children to be “world citizens” and so they make sure that their kids read books that introduce them to faraway lands, people, and cultures from various times in history.

And yet… the co-op they attend is made up of a homogeneous group of the same type of person, carefully screened, to ensure that no dangerous difference crops up to interfere with a uniform belief system.

Does that seem contradictory to you?

It did to me. Homeschooling is a small community (in terms of numbers in general society). Yet we share these common values:

  • being with our children
  • enabling self-directed passionate learning
  • creating powerful family memories
  • flexibility to teach to a child’s strengths and challenges
  • reading!
  • passing on our family values and beliefs (whatever they are!)
  • making a difference

…and many more.

Why would we make it so difficult for communities to welcome a diversity of home educators? The fear that someone will teach our kids something we don’t want them to teach is easily overcome. Simply don’t put your child in a class that isn’t one you want them to be in. Yet interacting with the children from a wide variety of backgrounds is as wonderful as reading about them (more so).

Do we need the art teacher and the math teacher in a co-op to be of the same religious background? Can a religious child learn ASL from a co-op teacher who is secular?

Why can’t we have the same eagerness to learn from real living families that are not like our own that we do when we read about them in books? If the belief system we hold dear is so easily undone by sharing square footage with people who are not like us, what does that say about that belief system?

I thought I’d offer these thoughts to provoke your own reflections! Your mileage may vary.

The Homeschool Alliance