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people and animals

16 Children’s Picture Books About People Helping Animals

by Marsha Rakestraw Modeling a message of compassion for others is a vital part of creating a better world for all. Children’s picture books are a valuable means of sharing with younger children examples of people helping those in need, and of inspiring them to think critically about what it means to be a good…

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pink

Looking Beyond “Pinkification” and Other Gender Stereotypes

by Marsha Rakestraw In March 2014, a couple of essays appeared in Slate and New York Magazine, castigating mothers of girls for complaining about the “pinkification” of girl stuff, citing it as an example of girl blaming. Author Yael Kohen wrote, “No symbol of girl culture is more powerful than pink.” There was a significant counter-response…

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dictionary

The Art of Circumlocution and Verbal Evasion: Exploring Euphemisms

by Marsha Rakestraw “You can’t be afraid of words that speak the truth, even if it’s an unpleasant truth….I don’t like words that hide the truth.” ~ George Carlin We use euphemisms every day, words and phrases that are a less direct or “nicer” way of talking about uncomfortable, harsh or sensitive topics. Sometimes they…

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kids

8 Videos Exploring Empathy

by Marsha Rakestraw Empathy is a key component of humane education, and something our society is increasingly recognizing as essential to our well-being and that of the world. Studies show that we’re innately wired to be empathetic. When we’re able to put ourselves in the place of another, and to imagine the kind of world…

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13 Children’s Picture Books Whose Characters Have Special Needs

Occasionally the media focuses on those with particular challenges, such as animals with special needs and people whose likenesses – in the form of unique mannequins – shed light on the meaning of “perfect.” But the truth is, positive depictions in the public sphere of people and nonhuman animals who have special needs are not…

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women from africa

Changing the “Single Story” About Africa(ns) … and Others

by Marsha Rakestraw Recently I read two books, each featuring a female protagonist. One was by a black woman from Barbados, the book filled with characters of color living “normal” lives. The other by a white man who wrote about the tragic (and eventually redeemed) life of a young impoverished girl in Mozambique. Two different…

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books

The Joy of Generosity: 19 Children’s Picture Books

by Marsha Rakestraw Every holiday season there’s a bizarre conflicting focus on acquiring and sharing, getting and giving. Help bring the joy of generosity into clearer focus for younger kids with the help of these 19 children’s picture books. 1. Shoebox Sam by Mary Brigid Barrett 2011. Grades PreK-2. Delia and Jessie spend Saturdays with…

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homelessness

14 Children’s Picture Books About Homelessness

by Marsha Rakestraw People and animals without homes surround us year-round, but their presence seems more palpable in the winter months. As rates of poverty and homelessness grow, so do children’s questions about those who don’t have a home. Teacher Mary Cowhey, author of Black Ants and Buddhists, said, “One might argue that the realities…

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an androgynous model posing with a tree

5 Short Videos for Teaching Students About What It Means to Be Transgender

by Marsha Rakestraw In a recent memo, the Trump administration has argued for US government agencies to adopt an “explicit and uniform definition” of gender that would “define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals a person is born with.” As the New York Times reports, this proposed definition would…

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bags

Humane Education and Math: Reusable vs. Plastic Bags

by Institute for Humane Education As part of our educator professional development, we encourage teachers to start infusing humane education into their classrooms by finding small ways to tweak their lessons. After learning more about the impact of plastic bags, high school math teacher Tristan Bates decided to whip up a fun little activity for his…

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