Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

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

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):

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

Trees in the Forest: Day Five

Trees in the Forest: Connecting with Character

by Rita Cevasco and Tracy Molitors

Day One: Laying a Path
Day Two: Bits & Pieces I
Day Three: Bits & Pieces II
Day Four: Story Symbols

“You have helped ease my mind . . . Seeing you demonstrate that there are choices to be made in every passage is liberating. I see more clearly that we are laying a path. What that means is this: it’s a process!” —Tara, Homeschool Parent

Connecting with Characters is one of the chapters in our book, Trees in the Forest: Growing Readers and Writers through Deep Comprehension.

Cartooning Characters is a strategy we explore in order to enrich understanding in a story. We readers are more likely to relate to a story’s theme when we relate to the story’s character. Cartooning is one step in Laying a Path to deeper comprehension.

In interpreting our character’s conflict and the stories themes, we begin to relate the story’s ideas to both the broader issues of the world and the narrower issues of our own lives. This is the definition of connecting with text and active reading: the ability to understand the writer’s themes, analyze how and why ideas are revealed, and to relate those ideas to our own lives and to all of humanity. Connecting with text is a tall order; all of us—children and adults—grow in these skills throughout our reading lives.

Helping readers develop a habit of making connections and analyzing text can happen at any age, especially when we capture and record our thoughts while reading. In our book we use the practice of copywork to help us capture and record our thoughts. We teach strategies to intentionally turn a story’s passage into a language arts study, taking a small bit of learning (a tree) and using it to gain understanding of literature (a forest). We call this in-depth study of copywork (the equivalent of studying a tree) Intentional Copywork.

Intentional Copywork must begin with comprehension—after all, understanding is a necessary first step in deep learning. I discovered in my Foundations class through Brave Writer that many families weren’t using the practice of copywork and dictation to its fullest, and therefore, either giving up or missing opportunities. Sometimes families assigned copywork, but didn’t realize their kids weren’t reading and understanding the chosen passage. Thus, part one in our Trees in the Forest Series gives various ideas for one aspect of language arts—comprehension—that can be used within a week of Intentional Copywork. Like our Cartooning Characters activity, we provide strategies that can be used again and again—all containing Bits and Pieces of writing.

Today we will add context to our cartoon. One way we add context is by engaging in copywork. We will add a quote from the story that seems to fit our cartoon. It might be a favorite quote, an oft repeated character line, or just something that tickles our fancy. The quote might illustrate the symbol or the theme. The quote might illustrate the conflict. It is the artist’s choice! But since the writing is going onto our week-long project, let’s write as neatly as we can. If you have a young or struggling writer, be sure to add lines for guidance.

Voila! We just gave our children a great reason to be neat in their copywork.

Lastly, we will add context to our story by drawing in the setting. Every story is told in its own little world. But story worlds are designed to help the reader relate the conflict and themes to two other worlds: the larger human world and the smaller world of our own lives. We use another activity in our book to help children make this connection, but Cartooning Characters is a great start.

If you haven’t already, download the free PDF to see how we encourage children to think about their character’s world, adding context through setting and quotations. We will add context to our drawing sheet that now contains all five days’ worth of activities. There is an example for your reference.

Over these five days, we have

  • explored a favorite character,
  • added our own thoughts with Bits and Pieces of writing,
  • identified conflicts,
  • discovered symbols and themes,
  • and added both the story’s content (quotes) and context (setting).

We began with a simple drawing, and ended with a complex character sketch! We gained insight and added our thoughts to the story. As we say in our book—without a reader’s response, there is no story.

Download our PDF, or continue with Day Five . . .

DOWNLOAD Cartooning Characters

Trees in the Forest: Growing Readers and Writers through Deep Comprehension
by Rita Cevasco with Tracy Molitors

Think deeply to write deeply. . . Geared to parents, educators and Speech Language Pathologists, this creative resource can be used to aid children in becoming lifelong readers and writers. Available in PDF or PRINT formats.

For the digital PDF version:
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Rita Cevasco