Archive for 2013

Benjamin Franklin’s Method for Learning How to Write in the Style that You Want

Benjamin Franklin 1767

Do you know how to apply Benjamin Franklin’s method for learning how to write with style? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Imitate Benjamin Franklin’s method for learning how to write really well in the style that you want.

I give you here my interpretation of how you can start applying his method in today’s modern context:

1) Select an article on a subject and written in a style that you already like very much. This will give you that emotional motivation to care enough about what you are writing and to recognize what would be boring to others who are as interested in the same subject as you are. Don’t go looking just for famous articles, instead focus on choosing writing examples that mean something to you and can be used to communicate in your field of talent.

This is how Benjamin Franklin (BF) describes his method: About this time I met with an odd Volume of the Spectator. It was the third. I had never before seen any of them. I bought it, read it over and over, and was much delighted with it. I thought the Writing excellent, & wish’d if possible to imitate it.

2) Break down the article into keywords. Do this by creating one or two keywords for each sentence and list the keywords on a blank piece of paper into one long sequential list.

3) After a couple of days, take your long list of keywords and, without looking at the original article, rewrite the article in your own words using the keywords to guide you.

BF’s method: With that View, I took some of the Papers, & making short Hints of the Sentiment in each Sentence, laid them by a few Days, and then without looking at the Book, try’d to complete the Papers again, by expressing each hinted Sentiment at length & as fully as it had been express’d before, in any suitable Words, that should come to hand.

4) Compare your article written in your own words to the original article. Grade yourself on how well you did in matching the author’s intent and style.

5) Change the sentences  in your article where you don’t think you did very well to the original intent.  Improve by giving them the same intention of thought (though not necessarily into the exact words) as the original.

BF’s method: Then I compar’d my Spectator with the Original, discover’d some of my Faults & corrected them.

6) Take the regular narration or prose from your article and turn it into verse or into catchy memorable phrases of your own.

7) Then after a few days, turn your poetic version of that article back into normal writing, without looking at the original article. After you are done, grade yourself as to how well you expressed the thoughts of the original article.

BF’s method: But I found I wanted a Stock of Words or a Readiness in recollecting & using them, which I thought I should have acquir’d before that time, if I had gone on making Verses, since the continual Occasion for Words of the same Import but of different Length, to suit the Measure, or of different Sound for the Rhyme, would have laid me under a constant Necessity of searching for Variety, and also have tended to fixthat Variety in my Mind, & make me Master of it.

BF’s method: Therefore I took some of the Tales & turn’d them into Verse: And after a time, when I had pretty well forgotten the Prose, turn’d them back again. 

8) For extra practice: Take your original keywords you had earlier assigned to each sentence and then jumble them out of order. From the jumbled list of keywords, rewrite the article in your own words and try to match the same order of presentation as you can remember. After you are done, grade yourself as to how well your order of the thoughts matches up to the original order of the article.

BF’s method: I also sometimes jumbled my Collections of Hints into Confusion, and after some Weeks, endeavor’d to reduce them into the best Order, before I began to form the full Sentences & complete the Paper. This was to teach me Method in the Arrangement of Thoughts. By comparing my work afterwards with the original, I discovere’d many faults and amended them;

9) To discover your own unique writing voice: keep rewriting the article to improve on both the expression of the original thoughts and on the order of of the presentation of those thoughts. Grade yourself as to how much better your re-written version is to the original article.

BF’s method: but I sometimes had the Pleasure of Fancying that in certain Particulars of small Import, I had been lucky enough to improve the Method or the Language and this encourag’d me to think I might possibly in time come to be a tolerable English Writer, of which I was extremely ambitious.

RE-READ that last paragraph by Benjamin Franklin. Did you catch what he said? He said he got BETTER than the original writers by this method!

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How to Become as Good a Writer as Emily Brontë of Wuthering Heights

English: Top Withens, said to have been the in...

Emily Brontë’s obsessive childhood practice and parental allowance for the time for her to practice were key to creating the talent that wrote  “Wuthering Heights” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you have a daughter who might actually become a very good writer, good enough for other people to really want to read her works? How can she become that talented if she is not born with that level of talent? There are two things you and your child can do to foster that level of talent growth. One depends on your child’s effort and the other depends on you as the parent.

Consider Emily Jane Brontë  who wrote the famous literary work “Wuthering Heights.” She spent her teenage years with her sisters re-writing and imitating the popular magazines stories of the time that came through her household. According to Juliet Barker, a curator at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Hawort, their childhood novella plots were overwrought and their spelling and punctuation was atrocious. There was no sign of genius. But as they continually worked through their stories, with the children collaborating together in their attempts at storytelling, they got better and better by sheer persistence, practice, and self-correction. What was also important was that their father was instrumental in their literary success by giving them the massive amount of time necessary in their younger years to fully explore their writing skills. Clearly the Brontë girls were not born with the the full talent for writing, but were born in a household committed to the practice of writing. They put in their 10,000 hours of talent practice.

For more interpretation on how talent was really acquired by the Brontë sisters, read:

(Affiliate) “The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born, It’s Grown. Here’s How.” by Daniel Coyle


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Before Your Child Chooses a Career…Be Sure He Know This One Thing

Crew members of HMS Royalist

It is good idea for your child to see the day-to-day lifestyle of his career of interest. You may discover early-on it is not a good fit. Photo credit: Powerhouse Museum Collection)


Guest Post by Levi Heiple:

Give your child the opportunity to learn about the lifestyle of his career of interest.

When I went to college, I thought I wanted to be a music composer. Had I known what the lifestyle of a successful composer was really like, I probably wouldn’t have done it.

Few classical composers get to actually write what they want–at least not for pay. You are always on a deadline. You have to make revisions on a moment’s notice. Sometimes you have to produce a score within a day! No one is looking for the next Beethoven symphony.

The days of patronized composers are gone. No one will pay you to write your next masterpiece.  You’re paid based on how quickly and efficiently you can deliver quality work that others have already created.

A few people would enjoy this type of intense work life. I would not. I had too many other things I was interested in. I would not have the focus to attain any level of success as a professional composer.

Just because your child enjoys doing something,  it does not necessarily mean that he would enjoy it as a profession. Just because he’s good at something doesn’t mean he can be successful at it. He has to find out what the real-life work is like.

Investing in a brief apprenticeship opportunity for your child will be money well-spent–even if afterwards he realizes he doesn’t want anything to do with the profession.

About Levi Heiple

Levi Heiple is a writer/entrepreneur who specializes in electronic training and support systems. He connected with Jonathan Harris after being asked tutor his son, Caleb. You can sign up for Levi’s free weekly tip on “reading for innovation” at You can find his professional website at  You can find his web design service at

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Online Writer Forum for Homeschoolers

I recommend the One Year Adventure Novel forum for homeschooled students who are serious about developing story writing skills as part of a long-term talent. The forum will do wonders for the son or daughter who no longer wants to feel alone in the serious pursuit of talent. You will not find a similar local writing club in your area composed of dedicated teenagers.

This forum is designed to young people who are writing their first novel and want a community of equally motivated peers to provide moral support and share writing techniques and tips. But in order to participate in this adult moderated forum for teenagers, you must sign-up and pay for the One Year Adventure Novel curriculum. The curriculum is designed to get your child to produce a real novel that takes advantage of their first-hand knowledge while following a strategic approach to writing, but the forum itself is more along the coffeehouse format of passionate young writers all sharing ideas with with each other.

To appreciate the magnitude of the support available for your child on this forum of almost 3,000 registered members, here are some the forum topics and statistics:

Character Development

Bring your characters to life.

  • 58 topics
  • 10,668 replies

Collective Novel

Join with other writers in producing a novel. One book by many authors.

  • 147 topics
  • 27,745 replies

Contests & Conferences

  1. NaNoWriMo

Links and information about contests and conferences open to young writers.

  • 153 topics
  • 8,767 replies

Ask the Teacher

Questions about writing you’d like to ask Mr. Schwabauer? Ask here.

  • 1,310 topics
  • 14,324 replies

The Writing Life

Thoughts on writing from Mr. S.

  • 10 topics
  • 479 replies

Story Ideas

Kick around story ideas that need shaping. Give and get help on a novel outline.

  • 1,173 topics
  • 18,404 replies

Novel Critiques

Post a chapter from your novel. Read and comment on the work of your peers.

  • 1,661 topics
  • 42,704 replies

Other Critiques – poetry

Writing something other than a novel? Get and give feedback on short stories, screenplays, poems, etc. here.

  • 1,935 topics
  • 23,389 replies

Book Discussions

Talk about books you love or hate.

  • 651 topics
  • 26,579 replies

Book Reviews

Review your favorite (or not-so-favorite) books. Check out what other people think about books they’ve read.

  • 261 topics
  • 8,017 replies

Movie Reviews

Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of various movies and how they were written. Focus on the Story.

  • 695 topics
  • 60,368 replies

OYANers’ Art Gallery

  • 474 topics
  • 37,096 replies

Knights of the Brotherhood of Narnia

  1. KotBoN Assignments

Royal Servants of the OYAN Realm

  • 7 topics
  • 851 replies

College Is Not Job Training

random pic from instrument training flights. i...

Find out first if your child’s talent can benefit from a college certificate. It may be that to be an overwhelming success in his field of talent, your child needs to travel swiftly down a very different path.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Guest Post by Levi Heiple:

College is not job training, it’s a certification program.

I went to college with the faulty assumption that many others my age have. Namely, that the path to success was to go to college, pick a major, get a degree, and then a job offer would soon follow.

College is not a direct path to a job.

You have to create your path to a job. The degree shows potential employers that you made a good investment with your time.

Undoubtedly, having a college degree is better than not having one. But the question is, “at what cost?” For some people, college is not a good investment.

Help your kids answer this question: “where will my income be coming from, and will those people care whether or not I have a college degree?”

If you are not sure, look at successful people in your child’s field of interest. Visit their websites. See if they put an emphasis on their educational background. If they don’t, then their credibility obviously doesn’t rest on their educational background.

If successful people in the field are emphasizing their degrees, what were their majors? Is it a bachelor degree? Master? PhD?

By asking these questions before sending your children to college, you can save a lot of grief and wasted time and money.


About Levi Heiple

Levi Heiple is a writer/entrepreneur who specializes in electronic training and support systems. He connected with Jonathan Harris after being asked tutor his son, Caleb. You can sign up for Levi’s free weekly tip on “reading for innovation” at You can find his professional website at  You can find his web design service at


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Join Online Forum for Talent

Gathering in bar or club

Have your son or daughter join an online forum related to his talent. This is how he can listen in on the experts at a young age.  (Photo credit: Boston Public Library)

Have your son or daughter join an online Internet forum that discusses your child’s talent. Look for one that is actively enforcing a code of conduct by making sure that newcomers are sticking to the topic at hand and willing to ban those who won’t participate respectfully. The best forums are probably those run by adults and professionals in their trade. It is not a bad idea for your child to already have his talent blog under way as it makes easier to get approved to participate. My son Caleb is a member of one such forum for bladesmiths and is learning daily from the interaction of older and more expert.

There are over 7,000 members on this forum from around the world dedicated to bladesmithing and to sharing and learning from one another. There is no local club that he could join as a substitute. Your child will find camaraderie and motivation and free advice by joining such a forum.

So you can appreciate the breadth and depth of a dedicated online forum, here are some of the statistics on the number of topics covered in my son’s forum:

Hot Work
This forum is to replace the old hot work and bladesmithing forum. Please post new topics here.
  • 1,160 topics
  • 10,693 replies
Bloomers and Buttons
For the growing field of smelting iron and steel. This forum is open to crucible and bloomery discussions.
  • 718 topics
  • 8,648 replies
Beginners Place
All “newbies” / beginners, please post your questions in this forum. Thanks.
  • 2,437 topics
  • 18,605 replies
Tools and Tool Making
The tools of the trade and how to make them.
  • 2,278 topics
  • 19,649 replies
Fit and Finish
Discussion, tips, tricks and questions about finishing.
  • 846 topics
  • 6,707 replies
Sheaths and Leatherwork
Because every blade needs a sheath.
  • 53 topics
  • 308 replies
Carving and Applied Arts
Discussion of techniques related to decorative arts such as carving, engraving, chasing, repousse, filing etc.
  • 82 topics
  • 724 replies
Metallurgy and other enigmas
Questions and discussions about heat treating.
  • 1,100 topics
  • 9,742 replies
Heat Treating by Alloy
A catalog of methods for proper heat treatment of blade steels arranged by particular alloy
  • 6 topics
  • 10 replies
The Way
Open discussion about it all.
  • 1,779 topics
  • 18,126 replies
Firey Beards
A Place for Smithing TomFoolery
  • 413 topics
  • 5,945 replies
Books, Videos, and other Media
Post your book/video and other media type recommendations here.
Links to interesting articles / websites.
Anything related to the craft.
  • 172 topics
  • 1,021 replies
Tools, Supplies and Materials
A place to sell and where to find materials and supplies. This forum is intend for the use of our members and is not for commercial purposes.
  • 1,301 topics
  • 6,936 replies
Events of Interest
Post your classes, hammerins, shows and events of interest.
  • 617 topics
  • 5,428 replies

Does Mother Always Know Best?

mother knows best

Guest Post by Levi Heiple:

Your friends and family do not always know what’s best for you.

Before I went to college, all my family thought that I should be a music teacher. I was on the church worship team. I enjoyed music. I had a good knack for it (at least relative to my friends and family’s abilities).

However, after going through an intense music program for a couple of years, I realized that these “gifts” were not so extraordinary. I was consistently the “slow” one in my percussion studio. I never made any auditioned ensembles.

I spent more time practicing than most of the others, but I still just didn’t have the “chops” to keep up.

I should of realized that having a good knack for playing along with a band or picking up on some guitar strumming patterns is really not enough to warrant a lifelong pursuit of that skill.

There are millions of people who have a “good knack” for a lot of different things. That’s not the same as being prepared for success.

In retrospect, I should of realized that my greatest ability was in optimizing systems and breaking down complex information. Oddly, nobody noticed this ability. Nor was I told that I could make a living with these skills.

Nobody I knew personally was an entrepreneur or had any knowledge about the technical communication field.

Family and friends have a limited perspective of the world, namely the world that is their work and their leisure.

The real insight that family and friends can bring is what someone is not good at. I failed biology class in high school. If I told my parents I wanted to be a biologist, they would have laughed at me.

There are many paths to success. There are universal ways to fail. Steer your child clear of failure, but don’t let your limited perspective of the world dictate the supposed path of success. The world is too complex and changes far too rapidly for anyone to know the right path for someone else’s success.

About Levi Heiple

Levi Heiple is a writer/entrepreneur who specializes in electronic training and support systems. He connected with Jonathan Harris after being asked tutor his son, Caleb. You can sign up for Levi’s free weekly tip on “reading for innovation” at You can find his professional website at  You can find his web design service at



Updated: May 2014

1 + 1 = 3: How to Compound Your Child’s Talents for Maximum Benefit

flying a paraglider tandem with the Synergy pa...

In a talent-led life, your child will combine his skills for maximum leverage.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Guest Post by Levi Heiple:

Most people do not just have one talent.

For the person who has only one talent, life is simple; it’s obvious what he should do.

Most people, however, have to prioritize. Which talent can your child make a living with? Or better yet, how can your child combine their talents to make a living?

You don’t want your child to have an uphill battle his whole life. Help him find the ones that will be the most lucrative, and ones that comes most easily. This does not mean he won’t have to work hard at it, but it does mean that as he works hard at it, his success will grow exponentially.

You will not know which talent is the most lucrative until you help your child make a complete inventory of his abilities.

The ideal career would be one where all or most of his talents can reinforce each other. This is a concept known as “synergy”–the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts.

Here’s an example inventory I did for myself. These were either skills or areas of interest that made a lot of intuitive sense to me and that I greatly enjoyed studying.

  • Instructional design
  • Technical writing
  • E-learning
  • Practical applications of information technology
  • Copywriting
  • Marketing
  • Business start-ups

I realized that I could get the more leverage out of each of these skills by combining them. It would make more sense for me to start a lot of “mini-businesses” based around my specialized technical knowledge and skills rather than to pursue a traditional career path in just one skill. I could use my technical writing skills to document the work processes and outsource the work.

I knew that probably half-of my business ideas would fail, but I didn’t mind because I love starting new businesses and improving my marketing skills. I just need two or three of them to work to make a living and I can keep building on the successes.

The point is that you have to take an inventory of all your child’s talents and figure out how you can combine them in a lucrative way. Some talents might not earn them a living. I still enjoy playing music, but I do it as a leisurely evening activity to unwind. I have no desire to try to make a living at it.

About Levi Heiple

Levi Heiple is a writer/entrepreneur who specializes in electronic training and support systems. He connected with Jonathan Harris after being asked tutor his son, Caleb. You can sign up for Levi’s free weekly tip on “reading for innovation” at You can find his professional website at  You can find his web design service at

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Raising Godly Tomatoes (book recommendation)

organic Heirloom tomatoes at Slow Food Nation'... is one of the best Christian guides on how to raise children. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The best book on parenting and child discipline that I can recommend to other parents is this one:

Raising Godly Tomatoes” by Elizabeth Krueger

It is really worth reading if you have children in the household from newborn to pre-teen as it will make an enormous difference to your parenting experience. Not only does it have the explanations down correctly, it is backed up by many, many examples, of how to do it. And this book passes my “man” test. There are many Christian books on the market about parenting, but most of the ones I’ve seen fall short. Most books are either too theoretical to be make a practical difference or they are overly sentimental and over- nurturing, so that no self-respecting man could operate in the way it is suggested. However, the “Raising Godly Tomatoes” book is so good, that my wife and I have purchased a stack of these books so that we give them away to friends who are looking for ways to do it much better than the way they were raised. You can also read the entire book online for free!

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The Real Value of Money

French diligence in the Pyrenees mountains, 1898

Money can be used as tool to help fulfill your calling  (Photo credit: Marcel Douwe Dekker)

Guest Post by Levi Heiple.

Money is a means of fulfilling your calling.

I grew up with a skewed view of money. My parents had a lot of consumer debt. I grew up in a Christian culture that implicitly (and sometimes even explicitly) viewed money as inherently evil–necessary to pay the bills, but evil nonetheless. This is not what my parents taught me, but it is what I picked up from the culture around me.

Little did I know, that the Bible actually teaches that wealth is a desirable tool of dominion. It buys you time to work on your calling. It allows you to build infrastructures to advance God’s kingdom.

I wish I had had this view of money before I went to college.

If I could go back to the summer after my high school graduation, this is what I would do differently:

First, I would identify the five most important things I wanted to achieve in my life. These have nothing to do with money. It has to do with the legacy I wanted to leave behind and what I wanted to pass on to the next generation. This is my calling.

Next, I would spend the rest of the summer thinking about what kind of jobs would give me the most amount of capital for my calling in the least amount of time. It could be money to fund the projects. It could be a network of relationships. It could be skills and knowledge I need to fulfill my calling.

Finally, I would ask myself if getting a college degree would accelerate or hinder my progress towards that goal. In other words, I would take the time cost (anywhere from 4-12 years) and the money cost ($50,000+?) and I would ask myself, “if I took the same amount of time and money, could I make a better long-term investment?”

Perhaps going to college would be the best investment for your child. It would be the best place for him to get the network, knowledge, and skills he needs for his lifelong pursuit. Or maybe it will give him more credibility in his field than he would have otherwise obtained by doing other activities.

On the other hand, you could discover that there is a better way to invest those first several years of adulthood.

About Levi Heiple

Levi Heiple is a writer/entrepreneur who specializes in electronic training and support systems. He connected with Jonathan Harris after being asked tutor his son, Caleb. You can sign up for Levi’s free weekly tip on “reading for innovation” at You can find his professional website at  You can find his web design service at

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Battleship Game to Memorize Chemical Table of Elements

Thanks to Jennifer Humble for curating this information

To help your child learn specialized tables of information that will help him in his talent quest, he can use the game “Battleship.” Instead of using the letters and numbers on the side of  the grid to target the squares you want to sink, you would instead call out a sub-set of properties. Whichever squares of information had those properties, those would be the properties that were fired upon.

For example if your child needed to learn the chemical table of elements, he could do it this way:


To find different styles of table of elements to print out for use in this game, go to and download the sheet you need.

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going to College


Guest Post by Levi Heiple


I am finishing up my last few credits of a bachelor’s degree. It’s a bachelor’s of science in music theory. I will leave with $20,000 in student debt. The degree will not help me much in my professional pursuits. Don’t let your child make the same mistakes I did.

If I could go back in time and tell myself five things before going to college, here is what I would say:

#1: College is not job training, it’s a certification program.

A college degree will not get you a job. You have to create your own job opportunities. A degree is simply a certification that shows that you made a good investment with the first several years of your adult life and are therefore more likely to have a good work ethic.

#2: Your friends and family do not always know what’s best for you.

Your friends and family only know about the vocations that they have first-hand experience with–the jobs that are on the surface. There are thousands of jobs that they don’t even know about. Browse through the Occupation Outlook Handbook. Talk to professionals in an industry that interests you. See what kind of work is being done.

#3: Money is a means of fulfilling your calling.

Get a solid grasp of the purpose of money. Don’t think that it won’t be important. Money is not evil, it’s a tool that allows you to do what you think is most important in life. Don’t get a dead-end degree. You’ll regret it soon enough.

#4: Take a complete inventory of your abilities.

You likely have more than one talent. Which ones can be the most lucrative for you? How can you combine them to gain a competitive advantage?

#5: Learn about the lifestyle of your career of interest.

Just because you enjoy doing something, doesn’t mean that you’ll enjoy it as a vocation. Meet real-life professionals in the field. See if you can tag along for a day. Find out what the “real-world” is like. It might not be what you want.


Count the costs before you send your child to college. If you do not know exactly what the degree will help your child achieve, it might be best to reconsider. There might be better investments.

About Levi Heiple

Levi Heiple is a writer/entrepreneur who specializes in electronic training and support systems. He connected with Jonathan Harris after being asked tutor his son, Caleb. You can sign up for Levi’s free weekly tip on “reading for innovation” at You can find his professional website at  You can find his web design service at


Audio Books for Relaxed Evenings

Candles composition

Candles for you and your wife while the children listen in their beds to wonderful audio books (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you and your spouse want to have some private evenings of relaxation without having to leave home or hire a babysitter?

Audio books to the rescue!

Your children can listen to captivating unabridged voice-acted stories in their bedrooms while drawing quietly, playing Legos, or just lying dreamily on their beds. Here are some 50 hours of suggested audio to stock up with in your arsenal of date-night tricks. This should give you room to relax at home for about 25 date nights worth while your children get deliciously transported into other worlds:

Hank the Cowdog by John Erickson with 2.5 hours of audio

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Book 1) by Jeff Kinney with 2 hours of audio

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain with 9 hours of audio

Freddy the Detective by Walter Brooks with 5 hours of audio

The Adventures of Paddy the Beaver by Thornton Burgess with 2.5 hours of audio

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Book 1) by Frank Baum with 4 hours of audio

Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen with 2.5 hours of audio

The Silver Chair (Chronicles of Narnia) by CS Lewis with 5.5 hours of audio

Artemis Fowl (Book  1) by Eoin Colfer with 6 hours long of audio

Redwall (Book 1) by Brian Jacques with 10.5 hours of audio

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Books for Boys Ages 9 to 12

Deutsch: Paris: Eiffelturm und Marsfeld

My list of fun fictional books in English for boys 9 to 12 who might be living in Paris and missing a bit of our crazy Americana! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently an expatriate friend living near Paris, France, was wondering what kind of fun and interesting fictional books their twin 12 year old boys could read in English to keep them in touch with American culture.

In response, I put together a list of books here below that I thought boys from ages 9 to 12 might enjoy trying to read. Girls might like them too, but I chose this compilation especially for boys who want something to kick start them into reading. There are many other books I could recommend, but if you are looking to get them jump-started on something easily accessible and fun, these below I would recommend first. Note that all the links go to my Amazon affiliate program.

Books that have a special Americana bent to them:
Hank the Cowdog series (down-on-the-ranch humor)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid series (school kid humor that will open the doors to understanding modern American boy humor)

Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (classic American outdoor adventure; the outdoor part is the story might as well describe the outdoors of where we currently live in California)

The series of books “Freddy the Pig” by Walter Brooks (anthropomorphic animal stories, with some gentle humor, that does a good job explaining through elaborate plots the different aspects of how American life, culture, and politics work – they were a big hit with my twelve and under crowd)

The animal stories by Thornton Burgess (nature stories that my daughter Noelle absolutely loves; shock full of real facts about nature in the context of fictional animal stories)

The Wizard of Oz series of books (the boys liked this as the books are far more interesting and gritty than the movies)


Lawn Boy” and “Lawn Boy Returns” by Gary Paulson (humor about a boy running a successful business – this one really gets the American obsession about being successful in business life from a kid’s point of view; it had Gideon (age 10) laughing all the way through the books)


I’m listing a few Non-Americana books here below, but I include them because they are very popular in the United States and easy to read with good story lines:


ALL the books in Chronicles of Narnia series (I think that even though this was written by CS Lewis, a British writer, it is probably more popular in the United States than in Great Britain. An absolute MUST read.)

For 11 and 12 year olds, I recommend ALL the Artemis Fowl series of books by Eoin Colfer  (it is the kind of science-fiction humor that made me smile and laugh as an adult; big people get the humor too and it is not inappropriate humor; a lot of advanced vocabulary, but accessible because the writing is so good, that in context, you understand it)


Thanks to Daniel, a reader of this 10ktotalent blog site, I am adding to this list the Redwall series of books by Brian Jacques. Several other friends over the years have highly recommended these adventure books of a mouse-warrior in a medieval setting.


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How to Quickly Find the Top Books in Your Field

English: Photograph of author Roy F. Chandler ...

Does your child have his prioritized list of specialty books picked out? Use the Book Blitz Method (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In this article I will show you how you can quickly build a reading list based on trusted sources and instantly find out which books are the most influential in your field.

So you had a few books recommended to you by someone you trust. You read them. You greatly enjoyed them and learned a lot. You want to learn more about that particular niche. But how do you go about finding the top books?

Read on to learn a quick and easy way to remember all the books you want to read, find related books, and prioritize your reading based on which books are most prominent in your defined niche.

Step 1 – Get a Recommendation from a Trusted Source

Starting with a trusted source is the key to making this system work. You have to know where to start so that you’re not just reading “best-sellers.”

Read all the books suggested by your trusted source.

Step 2 – Find Related Books

Go to and find one of the books you just read. Click on the book’s page.

Look for the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” section. This will serve as a list of follow up books.

Step 3 – Add the Books to Your Reading List

Log on to If you don’t already have an account, create one.

Search for one of the related books from the above step. To save time, just type in the author’s last name and a keyword from the title. Press Enter.

Click on the “Want to Read” button next to the title.

Repeat this process for every title from the page.

Step 4 – Find the Most Prominent Books

Your reading list will grow large very quickly when you follow the trail of related books. One way to prioritize is to find the books on your list that are most widely read. This will often indicate which books are most authoritative in the field.

Click on “My Books.”

Then click “to-read” from the side panel.

Click on “shelf settings.” Check “num ratings.” Sort by descending. Click “save current settings.”


Click on the “num ratings” column to sort by that field.

Your books are now prioritized by prominence.

Step 5 – Pick Your Books

Scroll through your sorted book list and pick out the ones that meet your criteria. For example, you could pick out all the books related to theology.



You can use the rankings to help prioritize your reading schedule. Since the list sorts automatically, you can add as many books as you want and still know which ones are the most widely read.


You can apply this method to any niche. Have your child ask for some book recommendations from an expert in his talent area. He can obtain this information from a online forum, a personal contact, or even by directly writing to an established expert. Most experts are more than willing to help a young novice get on the right educational track. Once your child has those first few books, he can begin a lifelong pursuit of learning and development through reading.

About Levi Heiple

Levi Heiple is a writer/entrepreneur who specializes in electronic training and support systems. He connected with Jonathan Harris after being asked tutor his son, Caleb. You can sign up for Levi’s free weekly tip on “reading for innovation” at You can find his professional website at  You can find his web design service at

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Easy Storyboard Format for Writing Stories

English: Technical Script with storyboard Espa...

For a child who is visually oriented, try having her sketch her storyboard first, and then write it out in words. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is a storyboard format that has really worked well with our twelve (12) year old daughter.

We have settled down over time to this short list of questions that has really worked for her. Other types of writing prompts simply did not work. She loves to draw, loves animal stories, and is far more visually oriented than her brothers. But this list of questions she uses has really gotten her to daily and consistently write her own short stories.

So if you have a child who is not the verbal chatty type, but with more arts-oriented skills, you might find this format very refreshing. Please feel free to share and print this list with others:

  1. What type of animal is your character?
  2. What is your character’s name? Explain and draw a picture of him.
  3. What does the character want to have happen? Explain and draw a picture.
  4. What’s a difficult thing that happened before the character got what he or she wanted? Explain and draw a picture.
  5. How did the character overcome the problem? Explain and draw a picture.
  6. How does the story end differently, but in a better way than what the character wanted to first happen? Explain and draw a picture.
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Example of 10,000 Hours in Practice

Julia Child’s autobiography “My Life in France” is a perfect example of the 10,000 hours principle. You can read in detail her personal adventure and quest at becoming the “Grand Dame” of American cooking. Although I’m not in sympathy with her personal political views she ascribes to in her book, she did do a great job serving our culture in an area that was very inadequate in the United States. Read especially the part about how she practiced making so many batches of mayonnaise, she had to dump them down the toilet! Read also how her expensive education did not prepare her for her life’s calling – she too had to put in her tedious 10,000 hours!

Because she had amazing talent, she was hard to put in a box with a specific career label, such as describing her as a “chef.” This is how you want your son or daughter to view talent development – as a journey to become so good and unique that a career label no longer fits your child.
You can read her biography by purchasing it from my Amazon affiliate link here:

French Pronunciation Exercise


Perfect Free Pronunciation Guide from a Native French Speaker Reading the Text of a French Bible – Always Available and NEVER Tires

Looking for a way to get a real French voice to teach your child how to pronounce French correctly for hours on end, without ever tiring, without ever betraying an American accent? How about if that was available to you as free for your child’s learning of a foreign language? And you could do it without having to drive your child to a tutor after-hours? Well, it is available here:

The audio can be treated as the perfect free pronunciation guide from a native French speaker reading the text of a French bible.

If you go to the you will find many bibles in many different languages WITH a native reader reading the text in the foreign language of your choice. You can also follow the written text as the person reads. And of course you can repeat it as often as you like or download it to your smartphone to listen to it in the car during commute hours and errands. In the past, to find a teacher who both had a correct accent and is willing to do it for hours on end with your child would have broken your pocketbook. Now when repetition and precision is everything, the audio bible comes to the rescue.

Here are the other Bible audios they currently offer online:



Three Types of People: The Entrepreneur


English: The Swedish entrepreneur, scientist a...

Is your child’s trait, the entrepreneur’s trait? (The Swedish entrepreneur Jan Gyllenbok – Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is your child’s dominant trait the Entrepreneur’s trait? Adjust your child’s talent growth to his strength.

Guest Post by Levi Heiple (continued from Three Types of People-Which One is Your Child?):

Is your child’s dominant trait, the entrepreneur’s trait?

The entrepreneur lives for the future. The entrepreneur (whether he admits it or not) sees most people as problems that get in the way of a better future. He will be continually baffled why 96% of the population will drag their feet and accept the status quo when there is an overabundance of opportunity.

The entrepreneur is the rarest type. This may be partly due to the reality that most entrepreneurial types will be educated at an early age to repress the entrepreneurial impulse. People don’t like entrepreneurs (or at least successful ones). Entrepreneurs are vilified in literature. People don’t mind the struggling entrepreneur, but the successful one is a cause for envy.

In spite of the bad rap that (successful) entrepreneurs receive, they do perform a critical function in society. Namely, they create jobs for everyone else. If you have an entrepreneurial child, you will want to raise him accordingly. Here are some key signs to look for to see if your child might be an entrepreneur type.

  • He can never seem to focus.
  • He is always coming up with some new schemes.
  • He tries to take shortcuts in his work–especially school work.
  • He doesn’t like to follow directions or he tries to re-engineer the whole process when given an assignment.
  • He tends to ask a lot of irritating questions and/or challenge authority.
  • He doesn’t like to work on group projects.
  • He is highly motivated to learn on his own whatever he happens to be interested in.

The above qualities are obviously not qualities that are typically valued in school. However, they are in fact the very qualities that make an entrepreneur successful if they are disciplined in the right way. Lack of focus becomes “big picture thinking.” Scheming becomes “business planning.” Taking shortcuts becomes “outsourcing.” Challenging authority becomes “innovative thinking.” Not working working on a team becomes “creating jobs for other people.”

About Levi Heiple

Levi Heiple is a writer/entrepreneur who specializes in electronic training and support systems. He connected with Jonathan Harris after being asked tutor his son, Caleb. You can sign up for Levi’s free weekly tip on “reading for innovation” at You can find his professional website at  You can find his web design service at

Learn More

For more tips on teaching young entrepreneurs:

For more information on the types, click on Jonathan’s affiliate book link:

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Write Lyrics For Your History Lesson


Notebook collection

Work through your standard history course by creating a custom notebook collection of song lyrics your  music child makes about that time period (Photo credit: Dvortygirl)

For a child who has a musical skill as part of a core long-term talent that is developing, you can still turn your normal history curriculum into a curriculum that supports your child’s talent growth. One way to do that is that is to have your child write new song lyrics to fit an existing modern song at the end of each and every history lesson that your son or daughter finishes.

The objective is twofold. The first objective is that by constant and consistent production of lyrics, your child will force himself to daily keep producing as fast as possible new lyrics in order to keep up with the lessons. The history content of the lesson is the fodder and message that your child is able to use immediately so he can focus exclusively on lyric composition.

The second objective is that by wrestling with creating new lyrics every day, your child will easily assimilate the meaning he believes the history lesson is trying to convey. This wrestling with the content will peg the purely historical information onto his growing song writing abilities and lock it into his mind permanently. He will remember history better than if had just studied and answered the standard curriculum questions directly.

Here is a link on how your child can get started writing lyrics today with intro, verse, bridge, and chorus words:


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