These Incredible Children’s Books Teach Compassion, Kindness and Empathy

Reading a book, any book, has a profound impact on a child’s developing brain. Countless studies have shown how reading to your toddler produces a more literate child, but it also helps shape the way they view and understand the world around them.

Something like Der Struwwelpeter might instill sheer old school medieval terror in your young child. Good for keeping them away from the match book. Other books bring much more value to their young lives than others.

Big Wolf & Little Wolf

A beautifully simple tale authored by Nadine Brun-Cosme and illustrated by Olivier Tallec. Full of expression and a treasure for any age. The styled illustrations give it a feel that’s completely unique, subtly conveying powerful emotion and the understanding between big and little wolf.

It’s a story of friendship and belonging, sadness and solitude, and our search for meaning in a world that often seems ready to swallow us whole.

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Perhaps the simplest yet most powerful book on the list, One by Kathryn Otashi is great for youngsters of any age, from babies to toddlers and beyond. The youngest will find the colors fascinating, and once they start understanding the story, the message will reveal a powerful meaning.

It’s a tale of bullying and respect, belonging and friendship. It is quite simply the best book on bullying. The artwork is beautiful. It teaches children to stand up for themselves, and importantly, for others. It helps that it teaches about numbers, too.

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The Invisible Boy

Author Trudy Ludwig’s sweet and touching story shows those who just aren’t joiners how their own kindness can bring them out of their shells and into the spotlight. Social butterflies, meanwhile, receive a gentle lesson in empathy and acceptance for shier and more introverted kids.

Patrice Barton’s simple, softly colored illustrations bring an unnoticed gray-scale boy into full-color communion with his classmates as he befriends a new student and shares his skills. Gentle and reassuring, it’s a tale of compassion and inclusion that all kids can relate to.

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Each Kindness

Profound and even heart-wrenching, this is one for slightly older kids from 2nd to 5th grade. From the Caldecott Honor winning duo of Jacqueline Woodson and E. B. Lewis, Each Kindness focuses on class discrimination to remind readers that sometimes it really is too late to say sorry.

Written in lyrical but telling free verse, the book features standout watercolors full of light and astute shifts of perspective. The gentle paintings lend a special poignancy to the harsh lesson of a chance for kindness lost forever.

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Somebody Loves You, Mr Hatch

A classic Valentine’s Day tale for kindergarten and younger elementary school kids, this book shows the difference that a little loving-kindness can make in the life of a person and a community. Prose and colored-pencil pictures progress hand-in-hand from a drab and uncaring everyday to a man made whole by an unexpected gift.

Engaging for the story alone, this is also great exploration of love of a kind that kids this age are just beginning to understand – that of neighborliness and friendship. Paul Yalowitz’s memorably drawn characters and detailed settings keep things every bit as interesting on a visual level.

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The Lion and The Bird

Sometimes a children’s book is so absurdly profound that we wonder how the author managed to pack such monumental meaning into such a tiny tome. And in the case of The Lion and The Bird, so few words, for this is a story told largely in pastel pictures (and even totally blank pages) that is still a gripping meditation on the passage of time and the inevitability of parting.

With a reassuring reunion at the end, this is a book that will teach preschoolers and kindergartners to value the time they have together with friends and loved ones without exposing them to the more tragic aspects of loss.

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This Guy Trained Bees To Make Marijuana Infused Honey!

39-year old Frenchman Nicolas is a locksmith, beekeeper, artisan, and crusader for medical cannabis and legislation in France. “Nicolas Trainerbee,” as he has been nicknamed, grew up treating his hyperactivity disorder with cannabis, and has spent the past 20 years of his life studying animal biology, entomology, and the practice of growing cannabis. He has had a life-long passion for nature and animals (specifically insects), which has led to his life-work of researching how to combine the properties of the cannabis plant and the insects that he has dedicated his life to. The result: “Cannahoney.”

Nicolas Trainerbees at work among his honeycombs.
Nicolas Trainerbees at work among his beehives.

Trainerbees decided to combine the health benefits of bee products with the benefits of cannabis, as he claims that “everything that passes through the body of a bee is improved”. He gives the example of propolis, a natural antibiotic, antifungal product of the resin of willow and poplar trees collected by bees. “Cannahoney” is the term coined by Trainerbees to describe his unique, one-of-a-kind cannabis honey. After extensive observation, he has trained his bees to collect the resin of the cannabis plant and use it in the beehive to produce the final product.

Trainerbees' bees hard at work in the production of cannahoney.
Trainerbees’ bees hard at work in the production of cannahoney.

Trainerbees describes the cannahoney as having a floral aroma, with the color of the product ranging from light green to white or yellow. Due to the legal barriers existing in France, he must tend to his 30 beehives and various strains of cannabis in open air spaces far from his home. He is still in the process of conducting detailed analysis of the product to determine all of the properties of cannahoney, yet reports that he has had three individuals that suffered from anxiety disorders agree to test the product and report to him that after ingesting cannahoney, they felt “a lot better.”

The final product, cannahoney.
The final product, cannahoney.

Nicolas Trainerbees’ main goal at the moment is to leave France for Spain. In Spain, he will be able to legally treat his hyperactivity disorder and also have the freedom to work with other professionals in the field to conduct the proper and thorough research that cannahoney requires. With all sorts of advancements happening in the legal marijuana industry, from hi-tech portable vaporizers like the Arizer Extreme Q to automated grow room technology, it seems clear that he has found his own slice of the niche. It is unclear when cannahoney would be available to the public at large, but surely his followers on social media – 4,300 Facebook and 700 Instagram followers – wish him Godspeed on the project!



10 Things Only Someone From Michigan Understands

1. “UP” doesn’t refer to a famous Disney movie


Source: Wikimedia Commons use Magnus Manske

2. You can experience all four seasons in 24 hours.



Rain in the morning, snow in the afternoon, and maybe a burst of sunshine in the evening. Nothing unusual about that.

3. It’s the only place you can visit Paradise, and see Hell freeze over in the same day.


4. Feeling ill? Have a Vernor’s Ale.


Source: Flickr user Ron

It’s no secret that ginger ale helps you feel better, but there’s really only one choice when it comes to the brand that works best.

5. UM/University of Michigan is the only rivalry in sports that matters


Source: Wikimedia Commons Michael Barera

Choose your side wisely and pray you don’t have two children that go to each school.

6. It’s perfectly normal to get Canadian coins as change


Source: Flickr user Shawn Carpenter

Given the proximity to our friendly neighbors to the north, you shouldn’t be surprised if half your change ends up being Canadian. Don’t worry though, it works just the same as ours.

7. That craving for venison meat

learnliving-michigan-12Hunting deer is a big thing up here, and pretty soon you’ll develop a taste for it.

8. It’s pronounced “Mackinaw”


There’s really only one true way to say it, “mac-in-awe”, but you can bet any outsider will screw it up.

9. Western Michigan might as well be a second Netherlands


Source: Christian Reformed Church in North America Facebook

The Dutch have a strong presence in this area, so don’t be surprised if you can’t remember whether your neighbors are the “Vanderwidens” or the “Vandercamps” or some other similar variation.

10. The Michigan left


Every state has it’s own driving nuances, and it’s no different here, where the “Michigan Left” is just part of the routine.

What do you think best defines your state? Let us know in the comments and we will add it to the list!


Burt’s Bees Co-Founder Lives In A Tiny House

Have you ever wondered who the “Burt” behind the famous natural products company Burt’s Bees was? Perhaps you have, but you probably don’t know much about the reclusive man, and for the most part that’s the way he likes it.


Burt’s Bees co-founder Burt Shavitz may have missed the big payout for the company, but he did get a pretty nice tiny house out of it. He’s still living in it and doesn’t seem inclined to leave – even for a little while.

“A good day is when no one shows up. And you don’t have to go anywhere,” says the famously reclusive beekeeper.”

If you’d like to spend a little time with him anyway, there’s a new documentary about his life, Burt’s Buzz, available for rent on Amazon; you can also watch the trailer there or check it out below.


Watch the video below to learn more about his life


Eccentric Rolling Home Is A Work Of Art

Well, this answers the question, “What would it look like if you built a house on top of Mater from Cars?” The man who gave us that answer is John, a self-described “nomad artist” who calls the customized 1949 Dodge truck home as he travels the country painting, making handcrafted jewelry, and applying tattoos.

He built it, and he’s still building it, both to incorporate mementos of his journey and to replace pieces that have finally worn out. The latter’s a fairly frequent necessity because he used 100% salvaged materials in the truck.

In fact, John says that “It will probably look completely different in a year.” At which point we suppose he’ll have to start calling it the Truck of Theseus.

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He Saw A Homeless Woman Sleeping In The Dirt. What He Did Will Change Her Life!

How many times have you passed a homeless person without thinking much about their situation? Chances are we all have at some point. Homelessness is a pervasive issue that doesn’t seem to have any easy solution, but one man made a perfect demonstration of how to make a difference.


Smokie is a 60-year-old homeless woman who lives in Los Angeles, and spends most of her time on a patch of dirt near an apartment building. Elvis Summers lives in that apartment building, and the two became aquainted as Smokie would often ask him for bottles and cans that she could recycle.


Then one day Elvis heard about Greg Kloehn, a kind spirit in Oakland who made a name for himself building small shelters for homeless out of scraps he found in the garbage. He used pallets, bed boards, washing machine doors, and whatever else he could find to build the little homes, barely larger than a dog house.

Elvis was inspired by Greg, and decided he would make a home for Smokie, which you see here. The LAPD has been good-natured about things, saying as long as she moved it every few days nobody could complain.

It took five days and about $500 for Elvis to build the home, and he documented the process in a video he shared on Youtube:

“I’d like to offer purpose to these people in need and hire them to build the houses with me. I’ve even set an appointment with LA’s Mayor Eric Garcetti to try and get his help,”

The story is a great example of how one person can make a difference in the world, and also a practical demonstration of how tiny homes can help solve a very real problem in the world. After he finished, Elvis decided to launch a project called Mythpla (my tiny house project LA) to fund more shelters, and plans to continue building tiny homes for people who need them.

You can visit this Gofundme page to contribute to the effort.


City Bus Turned Offgrid Motorhome For The Nomadic Adventure Seeker

Every craftsman brings their own vision to a new project, with different ideas of what “finished” really means. Projects like this often remain in a state of flux, constantly evolving, but in the case of this offgrid motorhome, we think the owner has crossed the finish line in style.


The La Chancita bus began its life as a 1966 Mercedes-Benz bus that spent its time as a city bus in Buenos Aires. Since then, Manu Fombeurre has overseen a dramatic transformation of the bus, turning it into a rolling home with room to sleep five, a fully equipped kitchen, shower, toilet, and wood burning stove.




The entire interior was gutted and transformed into a sleek wood-paneled beauty with all the creature comforts you’d want in a motorhome.


The transformation took place over nine months, and the finished Chanchita now serves as a base for adventure lovers looking to travel in style to remote wilderness locations. Faction Skis serves as the primary sponsor for the bus, and they contract rentals to interested parties – whether looking to hit a remote surfing destination in the summer or take an epic ski trip in the winter, the Chanchita channels the spirit of adventure that Argentina is known for. We can imagine they have a pretty good life, which might be made all that much better with something like this portable hot tub hammock for camping.

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Want to learn more about the Chanchita, or schedule your own tour? Check out their website.


A Rolling DIY Motorhome Michelangelo Would Envy

Some artists spend years, decades even, working on their “piece de resistance” if you will. The finished product might be a statue, a painting, or in the case of John Driscoll, a most unique gypsy wagon. He calls it the “Big Maroon” and it all began in 1971 when he paid $125 for a 1959 Federal truck that was originally a flatbed farm truck. Ever since then he’s been working on it, converting it into the one of a kind masterpiece you see here.


No detail went overlooked in the construction of this custom home on wheels, from the exterior to the interior and everything in between. He had plenty of help along the way, and the exterior shell was finished in 1975. It clocks in at 11′ tall, 25′ long, and weighs 1,500 lbs. including water, fuel, a boat, motorcycle, groceries, and one dog.

bigmaroon_07You need a serious engine to power a home like this, especially with the added weight of the build. At one point he swapped the Pontiac 2-barrel 389 for a 455 cubic inch Edelbrock with aluminum heads, custom intake, and a 650 carburetor. There’s certainly no shortage of power now, and along with the engine he also customized the power steering, transmission, brakes, and rear axle to ensure all that power gets put to good use.

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The most impressive features don’t live under the hood however, but rather in the custom living space he built on the flatbed. A true craftsman, John created a vintage living space that’s efficient and stylish, incorporating beautiful vintage lighting and custom cabinetry into the finish. He even made the stained glass on his own.

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photos courtesy Timeattackmanila

John has racked up more than 40k miles traveling around the US and Canada for more than 40 years and during that time he’s gradually maintained and enhanced the build. His is a story of perseverance and determination, of completely realizing one’s dream not to mention pure American DIY craftsmanship on a level few of us will ever achieve. Yet we can admire his effort and draw inspiration for our own projects.


DIY Steampunk Camper Joins Fantasy And Function

In case you ever wondered what happens when steampunk style collides with travel campers, we have the answer. You end up with something like this:


For the uninitiated out there, “steampunk” refers to a sub-genre of science fiction in the fashion/lifestyle world where technology and 19th century steam engine style come together. In this instance we see what happens when it meets the world of travel campers, and the result is quite stunning.



Dave Moult is the man behind this fantastic wood and copper clad camper. In 2008 he had the idea to travel Scotland and live out of a camper, the only thing was, he didn’t yet own one. So he decided to build his own, which spawned a new passion.

He never went on that trip, but he did end up building six different campers, including the one you see here. It includes a chandelier made from a coffee pot and copper pipe, a library, folding copper sink and cooking space in the trunk.

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Interested in building your own teardrop trailer? Dave recommends checking out the many resources available online, including the Facebook group page The Teardrop Club of Great Britain and the forum


Volunteers Get Paid To Live In This Ghost Town

Have you ever driven through an abandoned town and wonderdered what it was like to live there? Well, wonder no more. The Garnet Ghost Town in Montana is a complete ghost town that burgeoned in the 19th century with gold and silver discoveries until it went belly up in the 1940s.


Today however, a few souls remain there, and we aren’t talking about real ghosts (although what town like this isn’t haunted?). Instead, volunteers wander the streets, chosen by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to provide tours and sell souvenirs to tourists passing through.


The volunteers get a certain number of benefits, including a cabin to live in, a food stipend, and a small paycheck for their work. While there’s no cable/wifi, electricity or running water to speak of, someone who’s accustomed to living off the grid might find the accommodations quite fitting.

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Photos by Daniel Hagerman

While the Montana Standard reports some volunteers have spent as much as a decade living there, the current position calls for openings during August and September. If you are interested, feel free to get in touch with Gainan at the BLM Missoula Field Office at 406-329-3735 or email [email protected] to get an application.