The Incredible Benefits of Reading Fiction

An avid reader myself, I was overjoyed when I found out that fiction books actually help to cultivate morality.  I’d suspected as much just from seeing the benefits in my own life.  Books and stories have played a huge part in shaping me to be who I am today.  Seeing the research behind the facts though gave me one of those “I knew it!” moments.  In fact, there are actually a lot more benefits to reading fiction books than you might realize!  Certainly there are more than I ever expected to find.

Ever since Plato tried to ban fiction from his ideal republic, the question “does fiction build morality of individuals or does it break it down?” has been asked.  Until recently, we’ve only been able to guess at the answer.  Because we read non-fiction with our intellectual guard up, we’re much less able to be moved or persuaded.  In contrast, we get so absorbed in fictional stories that we drop our shields, which allows us to be moved emotionally.  When we’re moved emotionally, a point is really driven home.  For example, most stories show the good guy being rewarded after a struggle, and the bad guy ending up much the worse for wear.  This causes us to understand at a very basic level the power of “good”.  Fiction mainly shapes us for the better – promoting our ability to understand other people as well as promoting a deep morality that cuts across religious and political creeds.

The Incredible Benefits of Reading Fiction

History has shown fiction’s ability to change our values at a societal level as well. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” helped spark the Civil War by emotionally moving Americans to show that slaves are people, and slavery is inhumane and cruel.

Apparently the brain doesn’t make much distinction between reading about an experience and actually living it in real life.  In both cases, the same neurological regions of the brain are stimulated.  Keith Oatley, a professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto has proposed that reading produces a vivid simulation of reality, one that “runs on (the) minds of readers just as computer simulations run on computers.”  Fiction – with its endless textured details, imaginative metaphors, and in-depth descriptions of people and situations – offers a particularly rich simulation.  In fact, in one way the experience is one completely unavailable to reality: the ability to fully enter into a person’s mind to see what they think and feel what they feel.

Maybe it is because of this experience that fiction has shown to promote empathy.  Another body of research proves this point – that the act of reading hones our social skills.  Dr. Oatley and Dr. Mar, along with several other scientists, reported the result of two studies, published in 2006 and 2009, which show that those who frequently read fiction seem to be more adept at understanding others, empathizing with them, and seeing the world from another’s perspective.  A 2010 study by Dr. Mar showed a similar result in preschool-age children.  The more stories that were read to these children, the deeper their ability to understand people and their actions.  Truly, brain science shows that the claim to fiction cultivating morality is more accurate than we imagined.  As Oatley puts it, fiction serves the function of “making the world a better place by improving interpersonal understanding.”

The old fashioned virtues of reading novels can seem to be frivolous or inconsequential.  However, you can see that emerging-science studies have proven time and again that fiction is good for more than a casual enjoyment.  By building empathy, fiction helps reduce social friction.  In addition to this, stories seem to exert an almost magnetic force, drawing us together around common values and feelings.  What a wonderful pastime reading is!  Share with your children the joy and values you’ve discovered in reading fiction books.  JM Cremp’s has a vast selection of classic, history, and fantasy fiction books that are all just waiting for your child to pick them up and venture into their riveting worlds.

How To Naturally Improve Concentration and Focus in Your Child

Whether you’re a homeschooling parent or not, you have likely struggled with the issue of a child’s lack of concentration at some point during your parenting years.  Of course we know that children are curious, energetic discoverers.  This is natural.  However, some children struggle more than others.  Many frustrated parents don’t know where to turn for help.  What if there were some simple antidotes and tools you can use to improve concentration?  There is.  Of course no solution will work for everyone, but we think you’ll find the following suggestions extremely helpful.  Your sanity will thank you!

How to Naturally Improve Concentration and Focus in Your Child

So, how can you motivate and improve your child’s focus?  There are several different tools available.  In the beginning, it’s best to try them all to see what works best for you and your family.

1.) Attend to physiological needs.  Ensure your child gets 9 hours of sleep every night.  Reduce sugar intake & increase protein levels (lean meat, almonds, & eggs).  This stimulates dopamine which makes concentration easier, particularly for lethargic kids.  Taking frequent breaks for exercise will have a similar effect.

2.) Remove distractions at home.  Make a list of things that may prevent concentration (i.e. noise, people, lighting, fighting, tiredness, & hunger). Then go through each distraction and come up with a solution.  Make sure you implement those solutions daily!

3.) Create the right mood for concentration.  Playing calming background music, placing a fish tank (with fish) in the environment, and reducing fluorescent lights have all been proven to be successful in creating the right mood.

4.) Introduce sequencing & organization activities (i.e. following recipes, setting the table, and putting things in alphabetical order.)  Board and card games help as well.  Chess has proven to be particularly good for improving focus long-term. Their minds become incrementally stronger, alleviating the concentration problem, and in many cases, almost entirely curing it. The study of chess also instills patience and can help a child’s attitude.

5.) Find out which activities your child focuses on best.  Some kids do best with hands-on activities, and some do best with a lot of visual cues.  Look for activities that your child gets lost in for hours.  These activities can enhance your child’s concentration levels.

These are only a few of the tools we’ve found helpful through the years.  I’m sure there are many more that you’ll find that will work in your home. Before assisting your child with their concentration habits, pay close attention to their pattern of concentration and observe if there are any obvious links between diet, energy pattern, sleep, and your own behaviors.  Remember to lead by example!

Concentration can be improved and made automatic.  Picture the first time you drove a car.  No doubt the prevailing, panicky thought in your head was, “How on earth can I focus on all of this stuff at the same time?!”  After enough practice, your brain built pathways of concentration, and the task of driving has become a smooth and easy one.  Take action today and make the process of learning a lot more enjoyable for both you and your children!

Book Review – The Dangerous Book for Boys

Whether you’re a boy of 8 or 80, you’ll love The Dangerous Book for Boys!  The title sounds a little intimidating, but be sure to dive in a bit before making a snap judgement.  In these days of video games and battery powered toys that do everything except buy themselves for you, today’s unimaginative kids need to learn how to PLAY again. This book is filled with good old-fashioned, get-off-the-couch, get-out-of-the-house and get dirty ideas.

Book Review - The Dangerous Book for Boys

A perfect way to stay out of trouble but still have fun, The Dangerous Book for Boys covers essential boyhood skills such as building tree houses, learning how to fish, finding true north, and even answering the age old question of what the big deal with girls is. In this digital age there is still a place for knots, skimming stones and stories of incredible courage.

This book recaptures Sunday afternoons, stimulates curiosity, and makes for great father-son activities. The brothers Conn and Hal have put together a wonderful collection of all things that make being young or young at heart fun—building go-carts and electromagnets, identifying insects and spiders, and flying the world’s best paper airplanes.

As one reader put it, “It is perfect tinder for a young mind to fan the flames to the fire of personal wonder for the rest of their lives.”

You won’t want to put it down!  Pick up a copy today at, and be sure to take a look at The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things To Do, and The Pocket Dangerous Book For Boys: Things To Know.  Happy reading!

Favorite Fun Facts about North America’s Diverse Animals

North America is home to an extremely diverse range of animals, some of which are both prey and predator alike.  When we picture a predator, usually what comes to mind is an enormous, intimidating creature with razor sharp teeth and claws, snarling and snapping viciously.  However, did you know that the small, cute ladybug is a predator?  Similarly, when we picture prey, we usually think of a small, timid animal bounding away to hide under a rock.  As huge and regal as they are, it’s easy to forget that the American Bison fits into the prey category as well.  Clearly not all is as it seems!  We’ve researched and compiled a list of our favorite fascinating facts about some of the animals in the North American food chain.
Favorite Fun Facts About North America's Food Chain
American Bison: These creatures primarily eat grasses, weeds, and leafy plants, typically spending 9-11 hours a day foraging.  The large protruding shoulder hump comes in handy in the winter, allowing them to swing their head from side to side, clearing the snow away to create a foraging patch.
Housefly: Houseflies don’t let their short lifespan (14 days) get in the way of making music!  They always hum in the key of F.
Mantis:  Closely related to termites and cockroaches, praying mantis have been known to stalk and kill hummingbirds!
Octopus:  Our feathered friends aren’t the only ones with beaks – octopuses do too!  They need these strong beaks to break open the hard shells of the prey they eat.
Favorite Fun Facts About North America's Food Chain
Wolverine: These animals have an incredible sense of smell.  If an animal is hiding under the snow, a wolverine can smell it from 10-20 feet down.  While we consider this a fun fact, I doubt the prey harbors the same sentiment!
Burrowing Owl: This owl was so named because it lives underground in burrows that have already been dug by small animals like ground squirrels and prairie dogs.
Nine-Banded Armadillo: The world’s most widespread armadillo can be found in North, Central, and South America.  When startled, they can execute a five-foot vertical leap, thanks to the tension and flexibility of the armored “scutes” along its back.
Opossum: This scary-yet-adorable dumpster diver has the ability to neutralize any kind of poison, even those he’s never encountered!  Opossums can do this because their bodies produce a protein called lethal toxin-neutralizing factor.  So be nice to this little guy when you see him, perhaps his species will do great things for humankind someday!
Favorite Fun Facts About North America's Food Chain
Blue Whale: Yes, we know they’re enormous.  But to put their size in perspective a bit, did you know that their tongue alone can weigh as much as an adult elephant?  That is one massive creature!
These are just a few of our favorite fascinating facts that we’ve found.  With an estimated 432 species of mammals, more than 800 species of birds, more than 100,000 known insect species, 311 known reptiles, 295 amphibians, and 1154 known fish species in the continental United States alone, there is so much more to discover! Don’t forget to check out our collection of nature books for more information about the incredible flora and fauna that can be found in North America.

How to Make a Mask Using Tin Foil and Tape

A perfect mask can be made using surprisingly few products that can be found at home: tin foil and tape. Not only is this mask incredibly simple to make, but the tin foil enables it to perfectly fit your face. Once the mask is made, there are so many possible characters it can be adapted to.

How to Make a Mask With Tin Foil and Tape

Step 1: Overlap 3 sheets of aluminum foil in a stack.

How to Make a Mask With Tin Foil and Tape

Step 2: Push the stack of sheets onto your face. Push down as hard as you are comfortable pushing. Do it carefully, so the foil does not become punctured. (It might be useful to have a helper do this part.)

How to Make a Mask With Tin Foil and Tape

Step 3: Check you have the general outline of your face imprinted: nose, lips, corners of your eyes and cheekbones. Use a marker and trace around your eyes (it might be good to follow the bones around your eye socket) for where you want to place the eye holes in your mask. Also, trace around anything else you want cut out. (Breathing holes are useful for breathing!)you might also want to cut a hole for talking too.

How to Make a Mask With Tin Foil and Tape

Step 4: Carefully remove the foil from your face. Cut with sharp scissors around the edges of the mask. And note––once you cut it, you can’t really go back easily, so leave extra.

How to Make a Mask With Tin Foil and Tape

Step 5: Carefully cut out the eyes. Do this either by puncturing the foil with a toothpick and tearing the foil out, or snipping in the center of the area with the tip of scissors and folding the foil back.

How to Make a Mask With Tin Foil and Tape

Step 6: Cut holes or slots in the side of your mask. These are for the ribbons/cord/shoelaces to attach the mask to your face.

How to Make a Mask With Tin Foil and Tape

Step 7: Cut small sections of tape. While pressing the mask to your face to keep the features strong, gently place the tape onto your mask. When you feel the mask’s features are firm enough, place all the sections of tape, overlapping, across all visible places of foil, including the back (foil is itchy next to the skin).

How to Make a Mask With Tin Foil and Tape

Step 8: Tie the cord to the holes in the side of your mask. Leave enough length to both wrap around your head, and to tie in a nice knot or bow.

How to Make a Mask With Tin Foil and Tape

Step 9: Decorate using acrylic paints. Paint whatever you want, making sure to leave it to dry out of the way of people or pets. 

Paint completely black for the ideal Ninja disguise, or add colorful paints and sequins for a masquerade ball!  You can also add things like horns, a pointed nose, or antlers by simply making the form with tin foil, and covering with tape like what you did in the previous steps.  Become whatever character you’d like in a few easy steps!

The instructional portion of this article was provided by wikihow, a wiki building the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How To Make A Mask Out of Tin Foil and Tape  Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.

Celebrate Your Child’s Individuality With Online School or Homeschool

The advent of the internet has opened up an entire new WORLD of possibility to our society.  While in the past students have been limited to the options the particular school they attend has, with the internet there is a world of information virtually at their fingertips!  Many are utilizing this incredibly valuable resource in the form of online school or homeschool.

Celebrate Your Child's Individuality with Online or Homeschool

Perhaps your child has been diagnosed with something like ADD or ADHD. A child with these tendencies may not do so well in a public school, because they’re not so easily able to conform to the system. Perhaps their mind wanders a bit more than the other children, or they have a hard time sitting still. Arguably one of the greatest benefits for online school and homeschool is the ability to form your curriculum perfectly to your child’s particular needs. You can specialize their learning to be more hands-on and interactive. No matter what kind of learner your child is, they will thrive under this type of education!

Another awesome benefit of online learning is the ability to study almost any subject out there.  You have access to such a vast array of teachers and books. There have been many times that I was unable to study a particular subject at school, simply because the school didn’t have the funds to fit it into their curriculum.  With online or homeschooling, your options are nearly endless!

We’ve all witnessed the way a child’s brain works. They’re focused for MAYBE 10 minutes, and then a bird flying outside the window or a stray thought that wandered into their head will throw the entire train right off the tracks, and it’s a struggle to get them motivated and back on track again. Of course it’s important to have goals for each day, but how wonderful for them to be able to take breaks as often as they need? Even as an adult, I’ve found that I am at my most efficient and focused self when I give myself even a short break every hour or so. Creating their own schedule allows your child to absorb those nuggets of knowledge so much more thoroughly, and wonder of wonders, actually enjoy the process!

Of course there are some benefits to public schooling, such as certain programs like theatre or the important aspect of having peers and social interaction, but these are easily overcome as well!    Public schools are often willing to work with you and allow your child to take a particular program if you don’t have the resources available.  There are also many independent programs, classes, and communities outside of public school that your child could get involved in.  A well-rounded education is a great thing!

Celebrate Your Child's Individuality with Online or Homeschool

Let’s celebrate the fact that we are all vastly different individuals with vastly different ways of learning.  We are all so lucky to be born in this age with so many opportunities and options available.  Take advantage of it!  If you’re currently looking for materials for this year’s online school or homeschool curriculum, you’re not going to want to miss these Learning & Discovery Kits, Books, Woodworking Kits, & more!  Truth be told, I get a little envious thinking how much more fun and interesting school would’ve been for me if I had just had access to materials like these and to the varied curriculum that online school offers.  Even if your child is happily content in public school, these books and kits are an excellent way to supplement their education, or just give them a fun, educational activity to do on a rainy fall day.  So let’s cast off, and embark on this adventure into education!

How To Make a Duct Tape Tote

Is your duct tape wallet not quite big enough to hold your various treasures?  Try something a bit bigger!  This duct tape tote is waterproof, and perfect for carrying around whatever you’d like.  If you’d like to decorate it a bit, simply buy some crafts to decorate until it’s to your satisfaction.  You can also adjust the size of the bag by changing the size of the measurements.

A couple of warnings before we begin:
-Be careful with the knife.  Make sure you’re cutting away from yourself, in case you slip.
-When you’re cutting the tape off of the paper, be careful not to cut off a part.

Things you will need:
-Duct tape in various colors
-Hobby/craft knife
-Piece of paper
-Markers (for a variety of colors)

How to Make a Duct Tape Tote

Step 1: Make the bottom of the purse by drawing a 5.5 inch by 3 inch (14cm by 7.6cm) rectangle on a piece of paper. Apply duct tape to the back of the paper rectangle. Cut out the rectangle.

How to Make a Duct Tape Tote

Step 2: Line the outside of the bottom of the purse by applying duct tape to the back (paper side), leaving at least 1/4 inch (.6cm) of the sticky part showing.

How to Make a Duct Tape Tote

Step 3: Make two long sides by making two 7 inch (17.75cm) long duct tape fabric (laying duct tape out and overlapping the edges to form a piece of duct tape) of 3 pieces of duct tape.

How to Make a Duct Tape Tote

Step 4: Tape the inside color of duct tape over the outside pieces, sticky side to sticky side, in a perpendicular direction. You will need to leave at least a .25 inch (.6cm) part of the sticky tape showing on one end. Use the bottom to mark with a pen how wide the inside should be.

  • Know that if you place the two sides next to each other as you apply the inside color of tape, you can cut them apart when you are finished.

How to Make a Duct Tape Tote

How to Make a Duct Tape Tote

Step 5: Make two narrow sides by making a 5.5 inch (14cm) long by 3 pieces wide fabric of duct tape with the outside color. Use the bottom template to mark with a pen how wide the inside should be. Apply the inside color leaving at least 1/4 inch (.6cm) sticky part showing on the long sides.

How to Make a Duct Tape Tote

Step 6: Fit the sides together matching up the inside tape and sticking together with the exposed sticky parts.

How to Make a Duct Tape Tote

Step 7: Trim the top and bottom of the purse to be straight. Trim the sides of the purse leaving 1/8-1/4 inch (3-6mm) sticking out.

How to Make a Duct Tape Tote

Step 8: Attach the sides to the bottom of the purse. This can be a bit tricky. Start with one long side, laying it next to the inside bottom. Press onto the exposed sticky part of the bottom. Repeat for each side until it is attached. Trim the corners of the bottom so that the sides will stick out again.

How to Make a Duct Tape Tote

Step 9: Make handles for the purse by folding a piece of duct tape into thirds. Attach these to the purse with a strip of the inside color of duct tape.

So there you are!  Carry around your schoolbooks, use it for collecting rocks, or simply to organize your room a bit more.  You can find a great selection of colored duct tape, metallic duck tape, camo duck tape, and even glow-in-the-dark duck tape at  If you want even more fascinating and fun Duct Tape Projects, check out our e-book series called Warfare by Duct Tape.  The easy-to-follow instructions will allow any creative kid (or adult) to create swords, armor, shields, and more!

The instructional portion of this article was provided by wikihow, a wiki building the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make a Duct Tape Tote.  Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.

A Modern Resurgence of Vintage Pastimes

As the buzz over the technology revolution is settling down and becoming less of a novelty, the past couple of years have seen a resurgence of vintage, or traditional pastimes.  The world keeps spinning faster, and everyone’s eyes seem to be opening to the need for relaxation.  Gone are the days of the glorification of “busy”.  They are being replaced with the art of slow living.

The Resurgence of Vintage Pastimes

One of the most popular vintage pastimes that’s resurfaced seems to be whittling.  What do you think of when you picture whittling?  Perhaps what pops up in your head is an old man in a rocking chair on a front porch, carving a piece of wood, with an ice-cold beverage nearby.  His grandson sits in a chair next to him whittling his own stick of wood, keeping up a steady stream of chatter.  As the sun sinks lower in the sky, their wood pieces start to come to life.  The scene is idyllic, peaceful, and relaxing.

The history of whittling really begins in early Americana.  With only the use of a pocket knife and good, soft wood; crafty folks could whittle just about anything.  A couple of main things that have changed with the pastime since then is the quality of the knives and the selection of specialty blade shapes available.  The craft has become easier and more enjoyable than ever before.

If you’re looking for a way to wind down after a busy day, or to connect with your children or grandchildren, your search is over.  JMCremps has a large selection of knives, thumb guards, whittling & woodcarving books, and kits to get you started or keep you going with one of the best hobbies out there.

What are you waiting for?  Throw away your worries for a moment so you can sit back and relax while creating something beautiful.  Spend some quality time with someone you love. Connect with the past while living fully in the present.  There’s a reason this pastime is coming back, and I think if you give it a try you just might become an advocate of the art of slow living.

Easy Science Project: How To Make a Bouncy Egg

Are you in need of a simple science project that only requires a few household ingredients?  Look no further!  Parents are always telling children not to play with their food, but they’ll make an exception on this one.  Try this fun experiment that turns an egg into a bouncy ball!  The only ingredients required are an egg or two, some vinegar, and a container.

Easy Science Project - How to Make a Bouncy Egg

Step 1: Get a container of vinegar ready. Find a jar or Tupperware container large enough to fit the egg. Grab a bottle of regular white vinegar and fill the jar or Tupperware container with vinegar. Don’t fill it all the way to the brim though, because then putting the egg in will make it overflow.

Step 2: Add dye if you want to color your bouncy egg. You can easily make your finished bouncy egg any color you want to by adding food coloring dye to the vinegar. Just add around 10 drops of the dye to the vinegar, or enough to color the whole container of vinegar.

  • It doesn’t have to be filled to the top but it should be filled high enough so that the egg can be completely submerged in vinegar.

Easy Science Project - How to Make a Bouncy Egg

Step 3: Submerge an egg. Get a raw, unboiled egg. Place the raw egg in the vinegar-filled container. Just drop it in from right above the vinegar so the vinegar doesn’t splash everywhere. Make sure it is completely submerged.

Easy Science Project - How to Make a Bouncy Egg

Step 4: Cover the container. Place a lid on your container and leave it somewhere safe but out of the sun. The less sunlight it gets the better, so either put it somewhere dark like a closet, or cover it with something like a kitchen cloth.

Easy Science Project - How to Make a Bouncy Egg

Step 5: Wait for the shell of the egg to completely dissolve. This process can take anywhere from 24 to 72 hours. To be on the safe side, wait three days before continuing.

Easy Science Project - How to Make a Bouncy Egg

Step 6: Check the egg. Look at the egg through the container every once and a while to check its progress. The egg will turn a transparent color because the eggshell is decreasing in thickness. The eggshell will soon dissolve, leaving a thick strong egg white.

  • The reason the shell dissolves is because vinegar is a weak acid. The egg shell is made of calcium carbonate. When the shell meets vinegar, it makes a chemical reaction that turns the calcium carbonate into carbon dioxide, which is what those bubbles in the container are.

Step 7: Remove the egg. Take the egg out of the vinegar carefully. Just reach in and pull it out with your hand. Don’t forget to wash your hand afterwards. Place the egg on a couple of paper towels to let it drain.

  • Be extra careful when handling a raw bouncy egg. It will be more fragile than a boiled bouncy egg.

Easy Science Project - How to Make a Bouncy Egg

Step 8: Bounce it. Make sure it’s dry first. You can speed this up by drying it by hand with a paper towel. Be careful not to drop it from too high of a height, as it can still break and leave a mess. Start with just a few inches, and have cleaning supplies ready!

If you enjoyed this project and are looking for more science-related entertainment, be sure to check out for a great selection of science kits, science books, and loads of other fun, exciting, and educational items!

The instructional portion of this article was provided by wikihow, a wiki building the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How To Make A Bouncy Egg. Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.

Download Your Free Summer 2016 Family Adventure Guide

Let’s face it. Sometimes it can be a bit of challenge to keep the kids occupied all summer long.  As summer drags on and the excitement immediately following the end-of-the-school-year wears off, you may notice that your kids gravitate toward their devices more and more.  Instead of spending the afternoon running around the neighborhood or building forts in the backyard, you may find them on the couch with their eyes glued to a screen.  If the amount of screen-time is beginning to creep up, then it’s time to download the JM Cremp’s Summer 2016 Family Adventure Guide.

In it, you’ll find some creative ideas to keep the kids busy as well as some good parenting advice.  Oh, and there’s also a valuable coupon inside valid at

Happy Adventuring!

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Click the image above to download your free copy today!