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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One

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!

 

How Permaculture Can Save The World From Monsanto

Speaking to the UK newspaper The Independent last month, Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant made some remarks that are just as hard to swallow as the company’s gene engineered food crops.

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For one thing, he blamed the widespread public opposition to eating genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on lack of attention to marketing during the rollout of the technology. Never mind that other new technologies launched without coordinated marketing campaigns have done just fine as far as public opinion goes. (Cell phones, anybody? The Internet?) Never mind the numerous perfectly legitimate concerns about tampering with the DNA of what we eat. No, obviously the ad agency’s fault.

Grant’s probably not too bothered by anti-GMO consumer advocates, though, because he doesn’t believe that people have any choice but to eat Monsanto products. “Can you [feed the world’s increasing population] without biotech? I don’t think so,” he said. “If not this, then what? How are we going to crack this thing? If Monsanto and this entire industry did not exist then what would the alternative look like?”

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Well, maybe Hugh can’t figure it out, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Let’s help him out a little bit here. Farmers in many parts of the world are still using traditional agricultural methods that are surprisingly congruent with the modern concept of permaculture. Intercropping, organic pest control, soil conservation, and other sustainable practices all feature prominently.

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All well and good, Grant might say, but it’ll never produce enough food to feed nine billion people. But in that case he’d be on the wrong side of a comprehensive 30-year study by the Rodale Institute comparing the effectiveness of organic versus chemical agriculture. Rodale found that organic farming produced at least as much – and in many cases more – food as modern industrial methods. Their conclusion was that “organic farming is better equipped to feed us . . . it’s clear that organic farming is sustainable, while current conventional practices are not.”

How do you like them apples, Mr. Grant?

Mind-Blowing “Junkyard” Home Built From 104 Salvaged Car Roofs

No doubt you’ve seen homes made from all sorts of reclaimed materials, and where one person sees junk destined for the dump, another sees an extraordinary opportunity to re-purpose and recycle. But I bet you haven’t seen one quite like this. Built by architect Karl Wanaselja and partner Cate Leger, this Berkeley home was made using the roofs from 104 salvaged cars.

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It’s called the “McGee House” and the car roofs serve as a sort of siding, covering the roof and sides of the home, resulting in a scaled appearance befitting of a fish rather than a home. Lest you think the home itself follows a junky appearance, you’d be wrong.

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America’s best-selling minivan, the Dodge Caravan, supplied windows and awnings.

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With two bedrooms, and just over 1100 square feet, the home has plenty of space and a beautiful modern appearance with tall ceilings and a polished finish throughout.

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Their daughter simply tells friends to “look for the house that’s different” when inviting friends over.

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Photos Courtesy of Leger Wanaselja Architects

To see even more photos of this incredible home, check out Nicolas Boullosa’s Flickr page, and be sure to visit GreenDwellings.com to get more details on the build.

10 Things Only Someone From Michigan Understands

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

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Source: Wikimedia Commons use Magnus Manske

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

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Source: Giphy.com

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.

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4. Feeling ill? Have a Vernor’s Ale.

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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

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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

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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”

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Rescued Pitbull Helps Autistic Boy Hug His Mom For The First Time

True dog lovers know their furry companions come programmed with a “pay it forward” attitude, but few examples demonstrate that as well as this good-natured pitbull. Amanda Granados is the mother of a young boy with Asberger’s Syndrome, and until recently she and her son Joey couldn’t share simple physical connections of a hug and kiss, or even holding her hand.

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Photo courtesy Best Friends Animal Society

That changed when they adopted Roxy, a beautiful Pit Bull Terrier with a goofy attitude and a fondness for giving big wet kisses. Joey now holds his mother’s hand, and feels comfortable offering her a kiss and a hug. The unconditional affection Roxy showed Joey made a huge impact on his behavior, and shaped his life for the better.

“I didn’t have too many friends growing up, but then we got Roxy and I’ve been able to make friends ever since,”

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Photos courtesy Amanda Granados

There’s limited research on the effects of animals on children with Autism, but a 2014 study revealed that dogs can give children with autism a special kind of companionship that allows them to learn responsibility and suggests the connection helps encourage positive social behaviors.

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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

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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.