Dart, Arrow, and Boomerang: Apr. 2021

Brave Writer

Sense of place deeply influences the lives of characters in this month’s Dart, Arrow, and Boomerang guides.

As we explore grammar, punctuation, spelling, and literary devices, we’ll observe the ways environment helps shape their choices, relationships, and increased self-awareness.


[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!]


Brave Writer Dart

The Year of the Dog, Grace Lin

When Pacy’s mom tells her that this is a good year for friends, family, and “finding herself,” Pacy begins searching right away. As the year goes on, she struggles to find her talent, deals with disappointment, makes a new best friend, and discovers just why the Year of the Dog is a lucky one for her after all.

This funny and profound book is a wonderful debut novel by award-winning and bestselling author and illustrator Grace Lin, and young readers will be sure to love and treasure it for years to come. ~Amazon

Get the Dart.

Purchase the book here.


Brave Writer Arrow

Amal Unbound, Aisha Saeed.

Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal’s Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she’s busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when—as the eldest daughter—she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Amal is upset, but she doesn’t lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens—after an accidental run-in with the son of her village’s corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family’s servant to pay off her own family’s debt.

Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal—especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. Most troubling, though, is Amal’s growing awareness of the Khans’ nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realizes she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams. ~Amazon

Get the Arrow.

Purchase the novel here.


Brave Writer Boomerang

Our Town, Thornton Wilder.

Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama of life in the mythical village of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire—an allegorical representation of all life—is an American classic. It is the simple story of a love affair that asks timeless questions about the meaning of love, life, and death.

Our Town explores the relationship between two young neighbors, George Gibbs and Emily Webb, whose childhood friendship blossoms into romance, and then culminates in marriage. When Emily loses her life in childbirth, the circle of life portrayed in each of the three acts—childhood, adulthood, and death—is fully realized. Often considered one of the greatest American plays of all time, Our Town is also Wilder’s most frequently staged play. It debuted on Broadway in 1938 and continues to be performed daily on stages all around the world. ~Amazon

Get the Boomerang.

Purchase the play here.


Brave Writer Language Arts

It’s a Privilege

Brave Writer

We are the lucky ones. We live each day, conscious that our choices shape the next generation indelibly. These little people are with us for a short 18 years and we get to see it all unfold, right before our eyes.

I’m cleaning out my files and shelves, stumbling across handmade birthday cards and handcrafts from my children when they were still children.

It feels like such a big responsibility to raise them and hope they choose to be decent people with good values. 

There’s a lot I couldn’t control. There are mistakes I made. Sometimes I got it exactly right. And often: the difference between a mistake and a good decision were razor thin apart.

So much is the result of that word we don’t like: luck. Or serendipity. Or lack of foresight.

But I do know this. At the end of the day, I have never regretted being there for all of it. I hope you can hold onto that too—that being with your kids, now, as their parent-educator is a privilege, even when it’s hard.


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


Brave Learner Home

Friday Freewrite: Nonverbal Conversation

Friday Freewrite

Imagine you and a friend are at an event that’s so noisy you can’t hear each other. Now describe a nonverbal conversation between the two of you using only facial expressions, hand gestures, or body movements.

Bonus: Read your scene to a family member and see if they can guess what you and your friend were saying.

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.


The Best “Testing” Method is Not Testing

Best Testing Method is Not Testing

The idea of testing is so embedded in our imaginations as the best measure of learning, it’s difficult to “give it up.” Yet homeschooling invites us to do just that! Rather than examining your child like a patient in a doctor’s office looking for what’s wrong, try giving attention to the healthy growth your child has achieved in the last little while.

Kids LOVE to show what they know, to “show off” to impress their favorite adults (aka YOU!). Give them the chance to steal the show—invite them to:

  • give you detailed analysis of how to go up levels in Mario Kart,
  • explain to you the intricacies of their doll’s wardrobe, or
  • retell the details of that one battle in the Civil War that they have studied for months.

If you want to know what they know about language arts, ask them to explain a passage to you from a book they’re reading (let them pick the passage and ask them to tell you everything they notice about it).

If you want them to demonstrate skill in math, ask them to create the most challenging problem they have ever attempted to solve and then to solve it and show you how they did it.

Let’s move away from the style of education that says the teacher knows what you should know and it’s up to the student to guess what that is, in this amount of time, using this method.

Your best “testing” method isn’t testing it all. It’s a big juicy conversation that rambles and integrates what your child knows, has learned, and is still discovering.


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


Brave Learner Home

2021-2022 Book Reveal: Stay Tuned!

2021-2022 Brave Writer Book Reveal

Like the NFL Draft of Books!

It’s almost that time of year when our families get a little nutty enthusiastic.

They’re excited for good reason! 

Each spring, I announce the newly selected book titles for the coming academic year for our mechanics and literature programs—Dart, Arrow, and Boomerang.

This year, we’ve added a fourth level: Slingshot (for 15-18 year olds)!

These programs are designed to teach your kids the mechanics of writing through living literature!

The big reveal is exciting because these are:

  • books your family will read aloud together and treasure all year. 
  • books that naturally teach writing mechanics and introduce literary elements

Here at Brave Writer, we take the selection of these book titles Very Seriously!

All year, we read, discuss, and delight in the year’s latest fiction as well as relishing the classics.

  • We aim for diversity of authorship and protagonists.
  • We incorporate a variety of genres: fantasy to the classics.
  • We carefully orchestrate the sequence of the books.
  • We balance book length against the holiday demands of a given month.
  • We alternate moving, poignant books with silly, lighthearted books.
  • We launch the year with a sure-fire winner and end with a warmhearted one.

By the time we’ve settled on a book list, we’re chomping at the bit to share it with you! You can expect a lively, inspired reading journey.

Stay tuned for info about the live 2021–2022 reveal! It’s always a blast!

In the meantime…

SAVE THESE DATES (4 PM ET):

June 1: Dart and Arrow Book Reveals

June 2: Boomerang and Slingshot Book Reveals

Eeep! I’m so excited to share them with you. They will take your families on an incredible journey next year!

The Book Reveals are free to attend and we highly recommend watching with your children!

P.S. Our 2020–2021 DartArrow, and Boomerang year-long programs are still available! They will become single issues on May 30!