Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

Search and Sort: Literature Singles!

Brave Writer Literature Singles

Calling all planners! You’ve asked for it. Now, it’s here!

We’ve created a spreadsheet listing all 230 Dart, Arrow, Boomerang, and Slingshot titles just for you!

And it’s not just a list of titles. Oh, no . . .

We’ve given you the POWER!

The power to search and sort by

  • title,
  • author,
  • book setting (including continent),
  • time period,
  • the literary device highlighted in each Dart or Arrow, and
  • cross-curricular connections to tie in history, science, math, and more!

A dream come true, right?

Find it all on the Dart, Arrow, Boomerang, and Slingshot Literature Singles spreadsheet!

Start with the introduction tab at the bottom then let yourself play with the possibilities.

Happy Planning!

Brave Writer’s Dart, Arrow, Boomerang, and Slingshots are digital downloadable products that feature copywork and dictation passages from selected novels. These guides are indispensable tools for parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context.

Brave Writer

Banned Books Week

Banned Book Week

Banned Books Week is an annual opportunity to celebrate the freedom to read. This special week shines a bright light on attempts—both recent and long ago—to censor books. If this year’s event, held the week of September 26, passed you by, no worries. It’s never too late to dive into this canon. You can pick up a banned book and start reading it today!

In fact, we’ve recently added a few updated Arrows for books regularly found on banned book lists to the Brave Writer store: Harriet the Spy and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

You might wonder, why would I want to pick up a banned book? And why, especially, would I want to share a banned book with my kids—and use it to study grammar, punctuation, and literary devices?

We hear you. And we have thoughts to share.

What is a banned book?

The American Library Association (ALA) makes a distinction between challenged and banned books:

“A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice.”

Raising awareness of banned books helps ensure readers an ongoing opportunity to engage freely with diverse ideas and perspectives. At Brave Writer we celebrate that intellectual freedom as a means to promote new empathy and deeper understanding. This is why we make it a point to carry mechanics and literature singles for challenged or banned books!

Digging for Treasure

At first, it might feel counterintuitive to seek out banned titles. After all, we aim to give our kids the best literary experiences we can, poring over carefully curated reading lists to find those “must-read gems” all the experts are raving about. How surprising it is to discover then that the treasures we seek work overtime, often appearing on both the “classics-you-can’t-afford-to-miss-lists” and the banned books lists too!

To name just a few, think:

If you’ve been with Brave Writer for a while, you may recognize that these titles are featured in a Dart, Arrow, or Boomerang. These books were selected for our language arts program because of their:

  • exquisite writing, 
  • honest representation, and 
  • timeless relevance. 

Presented at the right time, in the right context, these tales have the power to enrich family culture and conversation in wildly meaningful ways. Let’s explore how! 

Relevancy Makes Readers

Books get banned for a wide range of reasons, but one element these titles usually share is authors with a willingness to take on the hard stuff. Banned books don’t shy away from the subjects kids are thinking about. Relatable stories of familial challenges, peer pressure, bullying, prejudice, loss, and grief gift our kids with road maps to hold onto when they’re feeling lost or overwhelmed. Books can make it easier to digest and process the feelings these topics give life to. And have you noticed that relatable books turn kids into readers?  

Books as Mirrors and Windows

Many books deemed “controversial” are great teachers of empathy and self-awareness. Education reformer Charlotte Mason taught that books give children a chance to learn about the wider world. Educator Emily Style took this thinking a step further coining the expression “books as mirrors and windows.” 

  • Mirrors are those stories that reflect a child’s identity and their environment back to them. The impact of seeing one’s life reflected in stories is significant because it’s a signal to kids that their lives matter and that there are other people who think and feel the same way they do. What a good feeling that is! 
  • Windows are stories that offer a view of someone else’s experiences and help children see the humanity in others. These stories often reveal surprising commonalities that transcend our differences and may explore issues such as ethnicity, disability, gender orientation, and religion. Diving into complex stories alongside well-crafted characters is a chance to step outside of comfort zones to learn about others. Banned books show the world as the big and sometimes confusing place that it is while providing exposure that cultivates empathy and resilience in readers.

Banned books spark Big Juicy Conversations! 

Do you think the topics covered in Charlotte’s Web are too sad for children? 

Who could this story help? 

Do these themes belong in a kids’ book? 


Why not? 

Think how delicious this conversation might be served up with cookies and milk! Substantive stories stir up controversy, and controversy is fodder for juicy conversations. Open-ended discussion of questions like the examples above helps develop critical thinking skills. If given opportunities to engage regularly in rich conversation, kids will grow the skills they need to thoughtfully discern and distill their beliefs and values.   

You Get to Decide

Books that stretch our thinking, make us evaluate and consider the world from a series of vantage points, are doing their job. How fortunate we are to have access to them.

Not every banned book deserves a place on your bookshelf, of course. You get to decide what deserves a place in your collection. But that’s the whole point. You decide. 

Mark your calendars. Next year’s Banned Books Week begins Saturday, September 24, 2022. As the date draws closer, keep an eye on your library’s calendar to see what events are planned and join the fun with your family. Of course, there’s no need to wait till next year— you can pick up a conversation starter today! 

Banned Book Literature Singles at Brave Writer:

Dart Titles

Arrow Titles

Boomerang Titles

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! See if you can spot other banned books on our Literature Singles list. There are more! 

Brave Writer Literature Singles

How Brave Writer Picks Books

Brave Writer

How many books do you think Dawn, our Director of Publishing, had to read to select the 35 books featured in our Dart, Arrow, Boomerang, and Slingshot programs? I’ll wait…

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.  

We are so excited to introduce you and your kids to great literature! Read along with us this year by purchasing a year-long program: Dart, Arrow, Boomerang, or Slingshot!

Brave Writer Language Arts

Selecting Books: Diversify

Selecting Books: Diversity

When selecting books to read aloud, we (at Brave Writer) follow a key principle:


The idea is to lay a feast of ideas (ht: Charlotte Mason) before your children, to create opportunities for empathy, to help your children grow in critical thinking, to expand a child’s world, and to entertain! That too.

The goal is to offer a selection of books over a year or several years that is diverse in lots of ways. Keeping the list below handy will help you get out of ruts and habits too.

When reading gets stale or predictable, shake things up! Here’s how.

Select from these categories:

Diverse Authors

Diverse Characters

  • male and female protagonists
  • older and younger
  • varieties of worldview

Diverse Experiences

  • types of childhoods
  • historical events
  • national disasters
  • humanitarian crises
  • humorous, suspenseful, fantastical situations

Diverse Genres

  • poetry
  • prose
  • nonfiction
  • graphic novels
  • comics
  • plays
  • short stories
  • fables

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

Arrows and Boomerangs

Books for Summertime

We LOVE a good book list here at Brave Writer! Check these fun books out from your local library, or head to the bookstore, and get your kiddos in the summery spirit.

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Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

Summer Books for Kids

Caveat: We are familiar with a number of these titles but have not vetted them all (relying on trusted sources like Here Wee Read and others for some of the suggestions). So please remember that you’re the parent. Certain titles, especially for teens, may contain mature themes and strong language. If you have doubts about the content of a particular book, check the reviews of it or read it for yourself first.

Also, some of the titles have an accompanying Arrow or Boomerang, Brave Writer’s mechanics and literature programs, and we’ve linked to them in the lists below.




Brave Writer Arrow and Boomerang Programs