The 2017-18 Boomerang Book Club opens for registration on July 31. The August Boomerang Book Club begins on August 7 and the book discussion begins on August 14.
Titles in the tab at the top.
Picture a living room of comfy sofas;
assorted coffee mugs in green, blue, and ochre;
tea, hot water, coffee, and chai;
brownies and chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.
Once you’ve kicked off your shoes and have tucked your feet under you, the leader picks up the book-of-the-month—Jane Eyre. She gives a short account of setting and explains a bit about Charlotte Bronte.
Then, as spoons clink and bodies shift to get comfortable, she asks:
“Let’s take a look at the opening two paragraphs. What clues does Bronte use in the setting to create a mood?”
Pages flip open and the first brave soul speaks up.
“The scene depicts a somber, rainy scene.”
“The first line includes ‘wandering’ which doesn’t leave the reader feeling very confident that the story is going somewhere decided.”
And so it begins.
The Skinny #
If I could host you all in my cozy living room, I would. Instead, Brave Writer provides you a virtual coffee house—where students gather to freely discuss the novels they read at home.
Rather than reading in isolation, without the benefit of examining the writing and the layers of meaning novelists intend their readers to experience, The Boomerang Book Club provides a forum for that opportunity. Homeschool students especially need the chance to talk about what they read—yet the busy mother-of-many doesn’t always have time to read those lengthy dense books, let alone discuss them in depth!
Let Brave Writer help you. These book discussions are drawn from rich works of fiction that will easily fulfill the English credit requirement for literature for a year of high school.
Teenagers are invited to join our virtual book discussion club, conducted entirely online in the Brave Writer classroom.
Johannah Bogart, Julie’s 26 year old homeschooled daughter, will guide students in provocative discussion of the Boomerang books. These discussions are intended to teach your kids literary analysis without the burden of essay writing. All the Big Juicy Conversations about the books will lead to that special brain development—rhetorical insight—that leads to effective essay writing later.
Remember—in Brave Writer, we move incrementally.
- First, we expose kids to great literature.
- Second, we talk about it.
- Third, we write about it freely without structure.
- Fourth, we learn to write about it with structure.
The Boomerang Book Club helps you with steps 1-3.
Your kids will both talk and write about literature without the imposition of academic formats.
All that discussion will be put “into” writing but it will be the kind your kids do all day long on message boards online. They will be “writing” their thoughts in a conversation with other students, guided by probing questions offered by the discussion leader. This rich experience of putting thoughts and insight into writing will create the foundation for applying the insights to academic formats later. In fact, some of them may enjoy branching out and taking one of our literary analysis writing classes later this year.
How it Works #
Each enrolled student will receive a copy of the month’s issue of the Boomerang, to be used at home in conjunction with the club (the price of the Boomerang is already included in the tuition for participation in the book club).
Monthly Tuition: $79.00
The online book club will follow this basic structure each month:
- Week 1: Students start reading the book. No discussion online.
- Week 2: Students continue to read the book. The instructor posts “Think Piece” questions from the Boomerang; students comment and discuss with each other and with the instructor.
- Week 3: Students finish reading the book. More questions are posted with more discussion of literary elements, themes, plot, character development, and literary style.
- Week 4: The last batch of questions are discussed. Students and instructor draw some conclusions about the novel on the whole. Students share a favorite quote (what we call a “Golden Line”); they explain to the class why they picked it.
Parents may print the online discussion and save it as evidence of work with each novel. Truly, our students who’ve participated in this discussion format in the past have found it to be the most effective process for becoming competent in literary analysis. The preparation for writing essays later is unparalleled in anything your student can do alone.
The Boomerang Book Club includes a copy of the month’s Boomerang issue, plus access to the online classroom for each month purchased.
Time off will be granted for holidays.
Caveat: Please remember that you’re the parent. If you have doubts about the content of a particular book, please check the reviews of the novel or read it for yourself first. Books may include sexuality, graphic language, and mature themes.
Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel. New York: Vintage, 2015. 352 pages.
What would happen if a deadly flu wiped out life as we know it? Emily St. John Mandel, a Canadian writer who was homeschooled until she was 15, imagines the world just before and some time beyond this cataclysmic event. The Traveling Symphony, a roving troupe of actors and musicians, performs Shakespeare much as their ancestors did, in a caravan emblazoned with the phrase, “Because survival is insufficient.” A page turner that insists we appreciate each moment. Available as an audiobook read by Kirsten Potter.
“Walking,” in The Essays of Henry D. Thoreau, Henry David Thoreau, edited by Lewis Hyde. New York: North Point Press, 2002. 28 pages.
The Boomerang celebrates the 2017 bicentennial of Henry David Thoreau with his final book, published posthumously by the Atlantic Monthly, a 28-page essay about one of his favorite pursuits—quite possibly one shared by Brave Writer families—walking. It is also a call to pay attention. “When we walk, we naturally go to the fields and woods: what would become of us, if we walked only in a garden or a mall?” Available as an audiobook read by Deaver Brown.
(Any edition is fine; this one is often anthologized.)
The Thing About Jellyfish, Ali Benjamin. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2015. 352 pages.
“A jellyfish, if you watch it long enough, begins to look like a heart beating.” So begins Ali Benjamin’s story of the science-loving Suzy Swanson, whose first-person narrative alternates with chapters addressed to her friend Franny, who drowned. A beautiful book about grief, things that “just happen,” healing, and sea jellies. Available as an audiobook narrated by Sarah Franco.
Georges, Alexandre Dumas. Jamaica Kincaid (introduction), Werner Sollors (editor), and Tina A. Kover (translator). New York: Penguin Random House Modern Library Classics, 2008. 336 pages.
This is the shortest, least-known, and perhaps most important adventure by Alexandre Dumas, author of The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, and The Man in the Iron Mask. Before these classics made him a celebrated author, he wrote Georges—the only novel in which he explored the subject of race. Driven from his home on the island of Mauritius by racist landowners, Georges returns, falls in love, and leads an uprising of slaves. A swashbuckler that acknowledges the brutality of colonialism, with a hero of African descent, this is a little-known gem.
The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin. New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 2003. 192 pages.
The game’s afoot at Sunset Towers, where most of the tenants have been named as heirs in Samuel W. Westing’s will. In order to claim the proceeds, the 16 heirs, paired randomly, must solve a mystery. Deftly plotted and filled with colorful characters, this is one to visit and revisit. Available as an audiobook read by Eric Michael Summerer.
The Call of the Wild and White Fang, Jack London. New York: Bantam Classics, 1991. 320 pages.
Two classic adventures for the price of one! In The Call of the Wild, a dog named Buck is stolen from his home and forced to survive in the Arctic north, where he confronts threats both human and animal. This one flips the first tale to tell the story of how White Fang, a feral wolf-dog, is transformed by the love of a human.
Available as an audiobook read by Gene Engene.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass. Mineola, New York: Dover Thrift Editions, 1995. 69 pages.
What better way to celebrate the bicentennial of Frederick Douglass than by reading his first autobiography? From his birth into slavery to his escape from it, this narrative conveys the power and eloquence of one of America’s preeminent orators and abolitionists. Available as an audiobook read by Walter Covell.
Any edition is fine. Note: Douglass was born c. February 1818 but because of the uncertainty about exactly when, it sometimes shows up as 1817. The Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives says 1818.
When You Reach Me, Rebecca Stead. 208 pages.
This Newbery Medal winner, inspired by A Wrinkle in Time, this is a time-travel story that is also a hybrid mystery-friendship story-historical fiction. An intrigue with a clever plot at its center, this one will please a range of readers. Available as an audiobook read by Cynthia Holloway.
The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog, by Adam Gidwitz, illustrated by Hatem Aly. 337 pages.
A medieval adventure involving miracles, bold children, and a spirit-dog, told by various travelers gathered at an inn, each of whom knows part of the story. Told in the manner of The Canterbury Tales and “illuminated” by illustrator Hatem Aly, this is an enchanting, well-researched, and action-packed tale of knights, bandits, a flatulent dragon, and brave youngsters on the run. Available as an audiobook read by numerous narrators.
Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery. New York: Sterling Children’s Books, 2004. 312 pages.
One of the great characters of literature for young readers, Anne Shirley is the independent, spirited child mistakenly sent from an orphanage to siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, who wanted a boy. How Anne goes about winning them over, making friends, and conducting herself through various exploits propels this worldwide favorite set on Canada’s Prince Edward Island. Available as an audiobook read by Barbara Caruso.
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (ISBN-13: 978-0061120084)
This regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.
You select which months you’d like to enroll your student. $79.00/per month.
Sign up here.
Payment by check #
Send a check (made out to Brave Writer LLC) to the following address:
Brave Writer LLC
7723 Tyler’s Place Blvd. Ste. 165
West Chester, OH 45069
- Student name
- Email address
- Phone number
- The Boomerang Book Club
Refund Policy #
The discounted, year and semester long prices are non-refundable subscriptions. If you aren’t sure whether or not The Boomerang Book Club is for you, sign up for the monthly subscription so that you can cancel when you’d like to.
Class Structure Description
Brave Writer online classes are specially designed with the busy homeschooling parent in mind. Classes last anywhere from four to six weeks. We offer courses that address a specific writing need so that you can take the ones that suit your family throughout the school year. Short class sessions enable you to work around family vacations, out-of-town swim meets, recovering from wisdom teeth removal, and visits from grandparents. We operate on the quarter system, including a summer session. Our most popular classes repeat each quarter, while others are seasonal.
Our classes meet in a customized online classroom, designed specifically to meet the needs of Brave Writer. Only registered students and the instructor have access to the classroom to ensure your privacy. Assignments and reading materials are posted by Brave Writer instructors each week (no additional supply fees necessary, unless otherwise indicated). Either you (homeschooling parent) or your child (homeschooling student) will visit the classroom daily at your convenience to read helpful information about the current topic or to find the writing assignment. We operate "asynchronously" (which means that the discussion is not live, but that posted information remains available to you in your time zone at your convenience). Instructors check the classroom throughout the day to answer questions and give feedback on writing.
Writing is done at home and then typed into the classroom, and shared with both the instructor and other classmates. You're not required to be online at any specific time of the day. We have students from all over the world participating in our classes so "live" discussion is impossible. Instead, the online classroom enables the instructor to post information and assignments when it is convenient to the instructor. Then, when it is convenient for you, you come to the classroom and read the latest postings.
Instructor feedback to student writing is offered for all participants to read. Writing questions are welcomed and encouraged! That's the point of class. We aim to give you immediate support as you face writing obstacles.
Brave Writer takes seriously the need for encouragement and emotional safety in writing. No student is ever at risk of being humiliated or mistreated. All online dialog is respectful and supportive of your child's process. This is the core of Brave Writer philosophy. You can read about Brave Writer values here.
What makes our program especially unique in the world of online education is that we value a corporate experience. Rather than teaching your child in a tutorial format, we prefer students to have the opportunity to both publish their work for an audience (other students) and also to have the chance to read other student writing. In no other setting is this possible. Schools-in-buildings rarely have students read each other's work. Homeschooled children are rarely in a classroom environment to begin with, so the opportunity to read peer-writing is nil.
Our classes provide an utterly unique experience in the world of writing instruction. Since most writers grow through emulation of good writing, it is a real advantage to Brave Writer kids to get the chance to read the writing of their fellow home-educated peers. They love it! They get to examine and internalize other ways of writing, analyzing and expressing ideas similar to their own. They have the chance to validate and cheer on their peers. And of course, the best part of all is that they receive the praise and affirmation of kids just like them.
Not only that, all instructor feedback is posted to the classroom for all students to read. That means your kids get the benefit of instructor comments on many papers, not just their own. We've noted that this style of instruction is especially effective and hope you'll test it and agree!
Click here to login to a sample classroom.